Quite a show

The 125th commencement ceremony culminates with a parade of classes.

By Greg Jackson ’04

The University celebrated its 125th commencement ceremony at the Wolstein Center at Cleveland State University May 22, 2011. Part of the ceremony included the symbolic parade of classes.

“For the alumni, it represents the growing family of John Carroll University – a legacy,” says Deanna DePenti, commencement and continuing education coordinator. “For the class of 2011, it represents a look forward, becoming part of something bigger than just their class.”

The parade of classes forms on the top floor of the Wolstein Center.

The first class represented in the parade was Larry Kelley ’36, who has seen more correspondence with recent classes than his own, especially after he and his wife celebrated 65 years of marriage before her passing June 5, 2010.

Other graduates marching in the parade reflected on bridging the gap between academic entitlements and using their degree modestly. John Biggins, who received an M.B.A. from Ashland University in 2010, felt privileged to represent the class of 2002 and reflected on his Carroll graduation.

“I took my time at Carroll for granted, and I’ve grown up a lot since then,” Biggins says. “The class of 2011 must know and understand that just because you have a degree from JCU, doesn’t mean you deserve this and that. You still have to work hard to succeed.”

Mature verbiage and responsibility can confuse new graduates who expect to land a good job, be a better citizen, or become a better friend, as they transition into their new roles of young professionals or leading their families.

“I’ve seen way too many young people act like they’re entitled to certain salaries and jobs because of where they went to school,” Biggins says.

John Carroll chose the parade of classes to show the graduating class is part of something bigger.

Melissa Wenzler ’90, among others, takes part in the parade of classes during commencement this past May.

“That was classy of Carroll to culminate the event with the parade of classes and how the 2011 class looked upon us with a sign of respect,” Biggins says. “I was so honored to be walking with other classes that came before me.”

A Jesuit education is like wine – it gets better with time, says sociology major Shaniqua Caffee ’06.

“We’ve only gotten better with time and will continue to age with grace, wisdom, and candor,” she says.

The alumni, representing classes dating from 1936 on, met on the fifth floor of the Wolstein Center, meeting and greeting one another before the ceremony.

“Not only were we present to help celebrate the achievements of the class of 2011, but we were also representing the history that surrounds us,” Caffee says. “Being in a room with those who have come before me, made me see how times continue to change. Not only did we make history that day, but I realized we are history. The parade was a great way to display that without having to say a word.” JCU


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