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Struggle to find peace

My calendar has commencement weekend beginning tomorrow. Yet, the Davis & Elkins College campus is empty. Like each of our graduating students, I have struggled to find peace with this dissonance.

Recently we invited our graduates to vote on two options for a rescheduled commencement ceremony, and overwhelming they chose to move their graduation ceremony to the weekend of our fall 2020 Homecoming. The combination of these events is fitting, and we fully intend to celebrate heartily with the Class of 2020. Yet, there is still a deafening silence on the campus this week that is more than just the lack of noise.

Like many of you, I have found myself searching for engaging programming on Netflix during this time of quarantine. The time at home in the evening that would normally be non-existent at this time of the year has changed, and the opportunity to escape via the television to another era is suddenly appealing. Last night I was engaged in a medieval drama that has recently had my full attention, and two lines from the script leapt out at me. These lines brought me right back to our graduates and a weekend celebration put on hold.

The king, in this drama, said the following of the chronicling of his life: “The act of committing ink to parchment gives a deed permanence.” I affix my signature to each diploma awarded by D&E. As I sign that parchment, I read the name and think of the opportunities ahead for that young man or young woman because of their hard work and dedication to pursuing their education at D&E.

With the stroke of a pen, the transformation from an adolescent in search of his or her vocation to a young adult who is confident and equipped to take on the world is formally acknowledged.

Later in that scene, the king picked up a piece of blank parchment and said, “It is up to us, and how we live our lives, as to what will be written from this day on.” So it is for the graduates of the D&E Class of 2020. Their lives have been influenced and molded by their years learning and growing at Davis & Elkins College. Their horizons have expanded, their assumptions have been challenged, their leadership abilities have been nurtured, and now the blank parchment awaits. What will be written is ultimately up to each of them, and yet, I am extremely optimistic that the pages will be filled with accomplishments, compassion, adventures and love. I believe their parchment will tell a story of lives well lived and full of meaning and purpose.

Do I wish that our graduates and their families were on campus this weekend to celebrate their accomplishments? You bet! Does their absence and delay of commencement activities to fall diminish those accomplishments, our pride in them, or the promise their lives give to us all? The answer is a resounding “no.”

Congratulations D&E Class of 2020! The ink is on your parchment, and many more empty pages await to record the fulfilling lives we know are ahead for you.

The journey continues…

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