The largest graduating class in North Park University’s history accepted their diplomas Saturday, May 12, in a joyous ceremony held in the packed Carlson Tower gymnasium.
“This indeed is a glorious moment,” President Carl Balsam said in his Commencement Litany. “Years of diligent work have led to this milestone; you have reason to be proud of your accomplishment.”
The ceremony began with a flag processional, which included the flags of the 22 nations represented in the class of 2018. After Balsam acknowledged members of the class of 1968, many of whom were in attendance in gold caps and gowns, the Ahnfeldt Medallion was awarded to Eunhye So, a communications studies and media studies major who earned the highest grade point average in her class.
Before handing out some 325 undergraduate diplomas, Balsam presented the Nyvall Medallion to Dr. Kristine Strand, chair of North Park’s Board of Trustees since 1992, for her dedication to North Park.
A speech-language pathologist and professor, Strand has taught at universities including Northwestern and Harvard, and is an author and consultant. But Balsam said Strand’s commitment to North Park, particularly in making the campus more diverse, was equally impressive.
“Kristine planted a vision for racial equity and intercultural learning,” Balsam said, noting that since her tenure, North Park’s population of students of color has nearly doubled. “Today we celebrate a campus that is increasingly diverse…realizing the continuing vision of reflecting the actual world in which we learn and serve, a manifestation of the diversity of God’s kingdom.”
As the Class of ’18 prepared to receive their diplomas, Provost Michael Emerson prayed that God would “sharpen their minds toward the service of your kingdom, and send them into the world in witness to your love, and bring them at last to the fullness of your peace and glory.”
Following the handing out of diplomas, receptions for the graduates were held in Hamming Hall and Anderson Chapel.