One hundred and fifty students graduated May 10 on the grounds of Emory's birthplace campus, Oxford College. Most will continue their undergraduate study at the Atlanta campus in the fall.
Their commencement speaker was alumna Cheryl Fisher Custer '81Ox-'83EC, who became Georgia's first female district attorney in 1991 in Rockdale County. Custer, who structured her remarks in the form of a case argument, said, "I submit to you that education alone is inadequate. I believe the evidence will show that without a firmly embedded sense of community, no institution and no society can prosper. I will make my case that these concepts, education and community, are the keys to success in both institutions and individuals and societies."
Emory College senior class orator Jonathan Sims of Potomac, Md., told his classmates, "Not all of us took the same path to arrive here today. . . . I am truly honored to speak to you today, not because I am a transfer student, but because you-my classmates-are the reason I transferred to Emory. For three years I have been honored to have been part of [your] spirit, energy and companionship. . . . You, the graduating class of 1997 have made me proud of my decision. . . .
"We need to remember the importance of a neighborhood barbecue, a handshake or the sound of a friend's voice in a world increasingly dominated by impersonal video games, fax machines and e-mail. We need to do a better job at maintaining human relationships in a world where they sometimes seem unnecessary."
At the law school's diploma ceremony for some 250 degree recipients, Dean Woody Hunter talked about the number of calls, letters and e-mails he has received from members of the legal community telling him how "impressed they have been by the work that our students have done outside the law school in the community-whether volunteering, working with legal aid, or a public defender's office, or in an externship, or in a moot court program-time and time again people call me to compliment them on the work that they've done. That reflects well on the quality of people we have had as students, who are today becoming alumni of this university."
Richard H. Clark Professor of Law Jeffrey N. Pennell, recognized as the Most Outstanding Professor told graduates that among their most difficult tasks will be setting priorities between their professional and personal lives. "Good lawyers find there is always something more they could do in the time they have available," he said.
Retiring Dean Ron Frank of the business school asked Roberto Goizueta, the school's "friend and namesake" to help hand out diplomas to new graduates. Frank told those assembled, "Building or enhancing a business enterprise in part involves the ability to see opportunities amidst the chaos. . . . Achievement is not something the world brings to you and hands you on a silver platter. True leaders develop an exceptional ability to live in a highly unstructured, uncertain environment and yet see common threads which define the path to progress for their firms, their communities, their society and mankind in general."
Michael Johns, executive vice president for health affairs, congratulated medical school graduates and their families. Graduates were setting out for new horizons with "a whole new world of opportunity," he told them. "Each of you has the opportunity to be a pioneer and a trailblazer," he said.
Herbert Pardes, vice president for Health Sciences and dean of the faculty at Columbia University medical school, spoke at the ceremony as well. He asked graduating students the rhetorical question: "Why a career in medicine and what will you do when you get there?" He went on to say that "American physicians are the finest in the world," but told the graduates to "remember the patient is a human being . . . it could be you."
Candler School Dean Kevin LaGree urged that school's 188 graduates to work toward three goals: "to think theologically in the context of their location"; to "lead responsibly, which begins by listening to all people"; and "most audaciously. . . to help transform the church in the world," which means participating "in the mission that is at the very core of God's being. . . . I hope as you leave this place and carry on your calling that you will remember that this is the mission we share, the mission that draws us out of ourselves into something far more glorious and wonderful."
William Foege, school of public health professor and a Carter Center fellow, gave the address at the Rollins School diploma ceremony. "Students come to Emory knowing that they want a life of purpose," he said. "Some in this faculty have left footprints on your heart. But you too have left footprints on theirs. You've been warmed by fires you did not build, drank from wells you did not dig. You now have to feel that need to build new fires, construct new wells. . . .
"Public health is about social justice," he told the graduates assembled. "It is about perspective. . . . There has never been a better time to practice this profession."
Patricia Szucs, vice president of Specialty Services for Visiting Nurse Health System, spoke to nursing school graduates. She invoked Leland Kaiser's process of lifework planning. "This process is never finished," she said. "It is constantly unfolding and becoming-moving you closer to your potential, doing those things that only you can do, providing service only you can provide. If you don't continue moving forward, continue becoming all you can be, the entire universe loses-there will never be another you, so no one else can accomplish what you have the potential of achieving. It would be lost forever."
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