Friends and family members of Shippensburg University’s Class of 2018 congregated in Seth Grove Stadium Saturday morning for the spring commencement ceremony, with some clutching handmade signs to cheer on their graduates.
The procession was led by mace bearer and music professor Blaine Shover, who was followed by faculty members and the graduates of each college.
Roger Serr, SU’s vice president of student affairs, was the ceremony’s keynote speaker and emphasized his appreciation for the relationship he established with the university’s students during his tenure. He retired at the end of the semester after 23 years at SU.
“I know that I am not perfect but I did care about others,” Serr said.
He went on to describe his years spent growing up on a South Dakota reservation with a population of around 500 people. Serr said witnessing the conflict between the white and Native American people that lived on the reservation made him more aware of similar issues that arose in other areas of his life.
“It was a gift that has benefited me on so many personal and professional levels,” he said.
While attending grade school, Serr said he was uninterested in academics and did not believe himself to be college material. His principal urged him to attend college after receiving Serr’s ACT scores, and Serr described this interaction as a pivotal moment for his professional future.
As he prepared to depart from SU, Serr encouraged students to get involved with the campus community and foster relationships with students, faculty and staff.
“Develop friendships and communication with others,” he said. “Thre is no clear or straight line to success. You have to be paying attention and willing to take calculated risks.”
He also stressed the importance of getting involved with student groups, and said involvement is a matter of civic duty.
“We should all share the responsibilities of civic duty,” Serr said.
Former Student Government Association President Madison Scarr said that although there may have been aspects of college that the graduates could have done differently, they should be grateful that their decisions brought them to this moment.
“There have been rough waters and peaceful seas [during college],” she said. “I encourage you to live in the moment and appreciate the small things.”
She also mentioned that the Class of 2018 donated money to SU’s ShipShare bike share program, as well as the First Year Experience, as a graduation gift to the university.
After diplomas were handed out, SU President Laurie Carter encouraged the new graduates to keep making an impact, no matter where life takes them.
“Your journey will continue — keep making waves and know they will make a difference,” she said. “Your place will always be with us as a member of the Ship family.”