AU graduates look back, forward at commencement

Mon, 2012-05-07 09:12 -- univcomm
May 7, 2012

Identical twins Elizabeth and Katherine Barwick anxiously lined up outside Anderson University’s Reardon Auditorium, adjusting their black caps and gowns.

It had been a lot of hard work, but the Mishawaka women said there was much fun mixed in with that dedication and they would miss their experiences from college.

They were just two of 645 who graduated from AU on Saturday afternoon at the Kardatzke Wellness Center.

erskine“It’s scary but awesome,” Elizabeth Barwick said of her feelings about graduation. “I don’t want to leave everyone, but I’m excited about all the opportunities ahead of me.”

Both graduated with bachelor’s degrees while majoring in mathematics education. Elizabeth wants to move back closer to the Mishawaka area, while Katherine plans to look for a teaching job in the Anderson area.

[Photo: Carl Erskine addresses graduates during commencement on Saturday, May 5.]

“We got a really, really good education,” Katherine Barwick said. “I’m grateful for that. I know people are looking for AU graduates for education jobs.”

Bracken Henry of Mount Gilead, Ohio, and David Herron of St. Louis were both graduating with master’s degrees in business administration. Henry had graduated with his undergraduate degree from AU, while Herron, 38, came through the program as a nontraditional student.

“I took my time to get this, and I’m very satisfied to be here today,” Herron said. “I was impressed with the program and staff. Everything was outstanding.”

Henry said he “loved” the program. His advice to future students would be to be ready to work hard.

“It is not easy, and it’s a lot of hard work,” he said.

Herron’s advice, he said, may seem silly but is sincere.

“Take advantage of as many experiences as you can so you can get the most out of the program as you possibly can,” he said.

The graduates weren’t the only ones who were having a hard time hiding their glee. Friends and family of the students packed the Wellness Center, many lining up outside, camera in hand, waiting for the graduates to march past.

Michael and Dawn Anderson — AU grads themselves — came from Akron, Ohio, to see a former co-worker and friend graduate with her doctorate.

“She has worked so hard to get here,” Michael Anderson said. “We wanted to show our support for all of that hard work.”

Dawn Anderson said she did a lot of pushing and supporting of her friend, especially in the beginning.

“I strongly believe in education, and I knew it was something that was important for her to do,” she said. “I really just helped her know she could do it. And she did, yea!”

Terry and Ruth Canfield, of Akron, came to see their son Nate Canfield graduate with a bachelor’s. He majored in business management with a concentration on nonprofits.

“We love the school and are so glad they chose Anderson,” Ruth Canfield said.

Terry Canfield, a Church of God pastor, said having both sons graduate from AU was an “answered” prayer.

“I’m so proud and excited,” he said. “We are just thrilled.”

Commencement speaker Carl Erskine — former Major League Baseball player and sports legend of Anderson — focused on taking leaps. In this Leap Year, the graduating class is about to take the biggest leap of their lives, he said.

Erskine talked at length about the leaps taken by his team, the Brooklyn Dodgers, in recruiting Jackie Robinson — the MLB’s first black player. Erskine related many of the benefits of that risk. Later, Erskine recalled how friends and family took a leap of faith when it came to the birth of Betty and his son Jimmy, born with Down Syndrome.

“The world was no more ready for Jimmy than it was for Jackie (Robinson),” Erskine said. But quickly he noticed a change and said he continues to see the change today.

At the end of his address, Erskine showed his World Series ring and a gold medal Jimmy had won swimming in the Special Olympics, an organization he continues to champion.

Erskine asked the graduates which one meant more. Are you getting the most out of what you’ve been given, he asked.

“As you leap into your next life class,” Erskine said, “you will find something — others may not remember what you said, others may not remember what you did, but everybody will remember how you made them feel.”

AU President James Edwards reminded students that graduation was a time to count your blessings but also a time to count your debts. And while his statement was followed with laughter, Edwards was quick to say he wasn’t just talking about student loans.

He asked the graduates to make a list of the people they owed their success to — someone who helped them get through a class, paid a bill, or encouraged them.

Those who are owed deserve a thank you, Edwards said, and then pay it forward.

— Abbey Doyle is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Reposted with permission. Photo credit: Don Knight.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.