More than 160 students graduated from Methodist University on Saturday in a celebration held at the Crown Coliseum in front of family, friends, MU faculty, and staff. It was the 49th-annual December graduation for MU.
MU’s president, provost, board chair, and special Commencement speaker Gen. Michael X. Garrett (pictured) – commanding general of the U.S. Army Forces Command – joined others in celebrating these seniors who persevered and succeeded despite the hurdles of an international pandemic put before them.
“You’ve shown you have what it takes to endure, to prevail, to succeed, because you’ve done so in the face of one of the greatest challenges in modern history,” said Dr. Stanley T. Wearden, president at Methodist University. “Tough times bring our character to the surface. And what I’ve seen in you has been resilience and commitment to one another and to Methodist University.”
While many universities across the country had to turn to remote learning at various times over the past year, these seniors and the rest of the MU community have held strong to the theme of moving “Forward Together,” have earnestly followed University safety measures, and the school has never had to suspend its residential living or in-person learning opportunities.
“We’ve had plenty of challenges, and sometimes they seemed to change by the hour, but you’ve done what needed to be done,” Wearden said to the graduates. “Instead of letting the pandemic break you, you have risen to the challenges every day; you have cared for one another every day; and you have found what it took to finish your degrees in dignity and style.”
The ceremony was one that honored the many accomplishments of the students, including Macrae Conrad ’21, who was chosen for the Distinguished Graduate Award by his classmates.
“The fact that we’ve made it to this point is pretty incredible,” Conrad said. “We’ve been hearing over and over how different things have been since this pandemic has started, but it is a significant accomplishment.”
Garrett’s Commencement address touched on goals, values, and the hard work that leads to accomplishment.
“I know a couple of things about the power of teams who commit to share common goals and values and commit to working hard beside one another,” said Garrett, who commands 215,000 active-duty soldiers and 190,000 members of the U.S. Army Reserve. “It takes a whole lot of work to reach a day like today. That effort includes not only long hours, critical thinking and academic rigor that goes into your studies, but the resilience that goes along with balancing your academics with family. As you know too well, simply wanting something is not enough. You, graduates, wanted to do this hard work because you wanted the knowledge, personal growth, and credibility that comes with a Methodist University education… It is my honor to be here celebrating what all of you know is a very meaningful and substantial milestone for today’s graduates.”
Following his speech, Wearden presented Garrett with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University.
While getting a degree from Methodist University isn’t easy, the students know how valuable it is when trying to enter the workforce and Wearden offered advice to remember those who walked alongside the graduates as they reached for this prestigious milestone in their lives.
“Remember this time. Remember each other and the faculty and staff of MU who have worked so hard to care for you,” the president said. “Remember your families and friends who have made many sacrifices so you may have a better life. Remember your alma mater with pride and love, because that is how your alma mater will remember you. Remember, too, the Methodist University commitment to truth, virtue, justice, and love. Because our ability to thrive during a global pandemic has been rooted in these values.”