2016 Commencement

Menlo College Commencement 2016

The bagpipes of the Prince Charles Pipe Band and a sensational rendition of the National Anthem sung by Monica Juan kicked off the 87th Menlo College Commencement, or as President Richard A. Moran termed it, “history being made.” The 2016 class was the largest class in history of Menlo College. It was also the wettest class. 190 graduates and their families endured a steady rainfall which lasted for much of the ceremony, prompting President Moran to declare the 2016 class his “favorite” for the cheerful endurance they demonstrated, getting thoroughly soaked in the two and a half-hour ceremony.

Moran applauded the diversity of the class of 2016, and praised the more than 75% of the class who have jobs or grad school organized after they graduate. He noted their happy and optimistic behavior which didn’t sway in the bad weather. He paid tribute to the late professor of management Ron Kovas with a personal story about a note from Kovas that said “don’t give up” with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt.

Moran concluded as master of ceremonies, urging students to sort through “what is good and what is best,” and to “do the absolute best that you can.”

After speeches by Board Chair T. Geir Ramleth, speaking on behalf of all the Trustees of the College, alumna Frances Mann- Craik on behalf of the Alumni Council, Provost Terri Givens, and Student Government President Ashley Schumann, the provost presented four faculty awards, to Professors Kathi Lovelace, Susan Low, Marianne Marrar Yacobian, and Leslie Sekerka.

H. Irving Grousbeck, Consulting Professor at Stanford Business School was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, in recognition of his outstanding support in education.

NoViolet Bulawayo, author of We Need New Names, gave the first of two keynote speeches. She told the story of her own decision to become a writer instead of a lawyer, and her difficulty in explaining it to her father. She said, “I tell my students that their job is to figure it out. Whether it is grad school or volunteering, be vigilant. If you don’t make a decision about your life, someone will decide for you. It is important that we have the right to be what we want to be. Making your own decision means being able to honor yourself. It means being curious, and having the courage to take risks. This gift called life is yours to live. Live fiercely, courageously, like it’s your only life. Because it is.”

Bulawayo also commented on the upcoming presidential election, “This election will shape your existence. Define the country you want to see. Be a participant. Be alive.”

The second keynote speech was by L. Gregory Ballard, the senior vice president of Social, Mobile and Emerging Platforms at Warner Brothers. He leads and oversees the business and strategy of the studio’s mobile games business worldwide. He recalled his mother’s humorous advice on his commencement day, “Always smell the roses and never buy cheap peanut butter or toilet paper.” Ballard said that he “feared boredom more than poverty, so he worked where he thought he could make a difference. He urged students to “think in terms of engagement,” and “be a player in the world around you.” Referencing the deluge of rain, he noted that “it is all about what you do with an idea after you step out of the shower.”

Heeding his advice, the Menlo College class of 2016 stepped from the shower to the stage, to exchange a wet handshake with the President and receive their diplomas, followed by a traditional toss of their caps. A glorious spray of confetti hit the sky just as the sun appeared, concluding commencement for the Menlo College graduating class of 2016.