May 16, 2015

363 Receive Degrees

Aaron Fetrow, who spent a decade as a student affairs and campus life administrator at Guilford, issued a challenge to the Class of 2015 at Commencement.

“Bring love and accountability to your relationships after Guilford, be they with a life partner, colleagues at work, or other, more brief and fleeting encounters,” Aaron told the graduates and their guests.

“Teach your children, your friends’ children, your nieces and nephews, your parents – anyone – about love and accountability. In the end, love does win, but not on its own.”

Aaron left Guilford last summer to become Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Roanoke College.

Read Aaron’s speech, “One Last Challenge.”

The College’s newest alumni turned their tassels Saturday on the Quad in front of King Hall.

Guilford awarded 361 diplomas to graduating seniors during the on-campus ceremony. The College also presented the first honorary degree in its 178-year history: Susan Briggs, renowned trauma surgeon and humanitarian, received the doctor of humane letters degree, honoris causa.

Visit Commencement Central to see social media highlights from the day.

The 363rd degree was conferred on Juliet Smith a few hours later at Women’s Hospital. Juliet, an English major, was unable to attend Commencement due to the birth of her son, Milo, at 11:57 p.m. Friday.

Read more about Juliet’s eventful 24 hours: Juliet Smith Receives ‘Best Graduation Present.’

Graduates Julia Draper and David Frazier spoke on behalf of the Class of 2015. Both urged their classmates to work for social justice.

Julia began her remarks with a quote from the African American Quaker and civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, “We need in every community a group of angelic troublemakers.” She encouraged attendees to listen to wisdom from unconventional sources, see themselves as part of an intricate ecosystem, and make trouble.

“On any given day, in any given place, the need is endless, the injustices countless, but the opportunities infinite,” Julia said. “Find a way for your deep joy to meet the world’s deep need, and become an angelic troublemaker.”

Read Julia Draper’s speech, “Angelic Troublemakers.”

David Frazier explained why he earned a degree at Guilford. “ I could not resist the temptation to explore, examine, question, analyze, and become a better informed and less polarized human being,” he said.

Guilford alumni have a responsibility to apply the values learned at the College, he said. “My challenge to this graduating class today is to go out into the world and ‘defy it’ by taking a stance on issues that are important to you and not being afraid to challenge the status quo because you can make a difference.”

Read David Frazier’s speech, “Make a Difference.”

President Jane Fernandes, leading her first Guilford Commencement, congratulated the Class of 2015.

“Graduates, this is your day,” Jane said. “We are proud of your accomplishments as students and are excited about what the future holds for you.

“The world needs Guilford graduates now more than ever. You are uniquely prepared to help make the world a better place. Go forth and make a difference!”

The Commencement Program contains a complete list of graduates.