C. Wess Daniels, the William R. Rogers Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies, offered the invocation, in which he encouraged the graduates, faculty, staff and guests in attendance to feel the presence of the native people who inhabited this area long before it was called New Garden and those who founded Guilford College. In an opening blessing, Wess quoted Celtic mystic John Donahue, reminding the audience to “free the joy inside the Self. Awaken to the wonder of your life.”
In her welcome, President Jane K. Fernandes compared this transitional stage of life for the graduates to a trapeze artist, free flying between catches. “You are preparing to release your hold
on the College that has been your home for these past four years,” Jane explained. “Now, like a circus performer, you have to let go of what has become familiar and comfortable in order to grasp the next stage in your life.”
Jane presented the annual Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for Student and Community to H’lois MLo ’18, B.S. Accounting, and Maurice “Mo” Green, Executive Director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and former superintendent of Guilford County Schools.
The student speaker for this year’s ceremony was Judia “JuJu” Holton ’18. In their address, JuJu encouraged their classmates and the Guilford College family to be committed to the College’s Seven Core Values, particularly to community.
“I believe in the power of community,” they emphasized. “I believe in the power of community to grow real knowledge of the issues people face. I believe in its power to challenge structures of oppression, its power to grow value systems of worth and dignity for all people. I challenge you graduates to steep your practices in what you want to embody, what you are committed to.”
Dennis Quaintance, CEO and Chief Design Officer of Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants & Hotels, was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters and delivered the commencement address. He encouraged graduates to spend a lifetime examining where their core values meet their daily lives.
“You only know if you hold a value if you are willing to voluntarily inconvenience yourself in service of it,” he said. “If you never do that, you don’t have a value.” He sent the graduates forward into their journeys with a wish. “My hope and prayer for each of you is that you find a path authentic for you, that you are not only alive but awake.”
Nearly 300 graduates stood for the conferring of their bachelor’s degrees and were welcomed each in turn on stage by Frank A. Boyd Jr., Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean, to receive their diploma from Jane.
In closing, David J. Hopkins ’91, Trustee and Founding President of the Black Alumni Advisory Board, offered congratulations to the Class of 2018. He bestowed upon them the responsibility they now own as alumni of an institution they hold dear, saying, “You will extend the positive influence of the College by the ways you live, work and serve in your own communities. And your active participation with Guilford, as alumni, will help the College thrive and enable it to offer the same great education you received to the next generation of students.”
Congratulations, Class of 2018 and thank you to all the friends, family, staff and faculty that made this day possible. Meet the Seniors of 2018 and celebrate our newest Guilford alums!