“Live in Gratitude and Thanksgiving; Live with Conviction and Passion; Live in Awe and Wonder.”

Adrian College celebrates spring commencement.

ADRIAN, Mich (May 4, 2014)—Adrian College is pleased to announce that on Sunday May 4, 2014, over 260 graduates received their diplomas. As has been the case in recent years, commencement was held on the mall at the center of campus before family, friends, faculty and staff.

As the sun sparkled across Commencement Plaza, Adrian College recognized Richard A. Gurdjian, local businessman, philanthropist, alumnus and College trustee, and Mrs. Betty Dancey Godard, advocate for first generation students, philanthropist and legacy friend. Each received their Doctor of Humane Letters.

Dr. John E. Harnish, retired senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Birmingham, gave this year’s commencement address. A highly respected minister and ambassador of the church, Harnish dedicated more than 40 years to the ministry visiting 26 countries. He is a current member of the Adrian College Board of Trustees. Harnish began his address by noting that his words of wisdom would be offered in three words and a word picture.

“I know enough about commencement speeches to know that the longer they are; the quicker they are forgotten,” he quipped.   He began by telling the graduates to live in gratitude.

“You were born, one way or another you came to this time and place,” Harnish reflected. “Here you are. Live in gratitude for those who made a way for you so you could be here today.”

“As you sit here in these silly looking hats, may they remind you of the turtle on a fence post. When you see a turtle sitting on a fence post, one thing you know for sure—he didn’t get there by himself, and neither did you. Live in gratitude for all that has contributed to making you who you are today.” He continued by offering advice for the future, “If you approach life as a given, something you somehow deserve, you will sadly disappointed. If you approach life as a gift, everything will be received with thanks.”

“That’s what it means to live in gratitude.”

His second piece of wisdom: live with conviction.

He offered the ideal that motivation can be received through steadfast convictions that anchor life with strong values and beliefs.

“That’s one of the values of education in a small church-related, liberal arts college like Adrian, where the goal is not just to impart information but to shape the person,” he said. “[A place] where you are encouraged to be all you were created to be and to do it with passion and conviction.”

“I hope in your time here, you have found something of that balance between academic knowledge and the shaping of your convictions, uniting learning of the mind and forming of the heart with values and convictions which will guide you.”

Finally, he offered the third piece of advice: live in awe and wonder.

“I hope along the way, you will lift your eyes long enough to see the wonder of the world and the mystery of creation. I hope you will actually touch the people around you and sense the joy of human friendship and love. I hope you will find space in your life for moments of awe and moments of wonder.”

He paused after some reflection and stated to the graduates spread out before him. “It is the sacred moments of awe that will make a life. And if you miss out on the wonder that is all around, you will have nothing to live for.”

“We live our lives facing the past—you can see the past, you know what has taken place there, but you can’t really see the future. What’s ahead is unknown, so we are literally backing into the future,” he reflected.

“We send you out, not boldly marching into the future, but rather backing into the unknown in confidence and in trust.”

He concluded by revisiting the advice he laid out throughout his speech, “Live in gratitude and thanksgiving. Live with conviction and passion. Live in awe and wonder.”

Adrian College congratulates all of its 2014 spring graduates, acknowledges their accomplishments, and wishes them success in their future endeavors.