President Carl Balsam presided over North Park University’s Winter Commencement Convocation Friday, Dec. 15, in which nearly 300 students received undergraduate and graduate degrees.
In his remarks, Balsam challenged graduates to do justice and show mercy in their lives after college. He also kicked off his address with a well-received joke about tuition.
“When I was told I was responsible for something called the ‘charge to graduates,’ my initial thought was, haven’t we charged them enough?” Balsam said to wide-spread laughter and applause.
Then, Balsam offered the graduates a message of “encouragement and challenge,” noting that the current job market is strong, especially for those with college degrees. He then urged graduates to show mercy by “making things right not just for yourselves, but others.”
He noted that many students had stood with fellow DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) students whose status as citizens was being challenged. Students should continue to fight for such social justice issues upon graduation, he said.
The Ahnfeldt Medallion for academic excellence was presented to Thomas H. Cellilli IV, who majored in Biblical and Theological Studies and earned a 3.969 grade point average. Board President Christine Strand awarded Cellilli the Medallion, noting his “gift of leadership” as well as his many extracurricular activities while at North Park, including coaching a middle school baseball team.
Following Christmas hymns, scripture readings and a charge to students by Balsam and Provost Michael O. Emerson, diplomas were handed out by Emerson, followed by cheers from family and friends in the audience.
A reception for graduates was held in Hamming Hall following commencement.