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GOSHEN -- Some students were feeling emotional, others relieved Sunday at Goshen College's 107th Commencement in the Roman Gingerich Recreation-Fitness Center on campus.
A total of 223 graduates received diplomas in the ceremony, some of them from different countries or nontraditional adult students, reflecting Goshen College's diverse student body.
"It's kind of a sentimental time, but exciting," said music education major Philip Kendall. He plans to be here for the summer but then will student teach at the Urban Life Center in Chicago.
April Brown, who is an adult student, has two young children at home and had a baby while in the program. "It feels great. It's a relief," said Brown. "I'm glad I stuck with it." She plans on continuing her career at Goshen Health System.
The ceremony started with the Irish congregational hymn, "Be Thou My Vision," and the commencement address was given by author and speaker Dorothy Nickel Friesen, who is conference minister for the Western District Conference of Mennonite Church USA. In her presentation, "An Undivided Life," she explained to the graduates the importance of combining their faith with their daily lives.
She spoke of her reaction to the death of the pope and how he combined humanity and spirituality. She instructed the students that it was how they lived their life that mattered, and made sure the graduates knew that they were not alone in their continuing journey because they were all Christ's followers, adding "It's the beginning of the rest of your lives."
Darla Zehr, an elementary education major, didn't have any concrete plans, except that she planned on getting a teaching job. She was happy to graduate, though. "It is a definite accomplishment, because it involves four years of hard work," said Zehr.
Aaron Zimmerman agreed that it felt good to graduate, but he won't be sticking around. He is going to Germany for the summer as part of Goshen College's SST program, and then he'll be traveling around Europe for a while. He said he'll start thinking about life plans after that.
Physics and chemistry major Peter Nice was a little undecided about how he felt. "I think I'm less excited because I'm feeling all the responsibilities," said Nice. "I'm without an explicit plan. All the responsibilities just caught up with me." Nonetheless, Nice said, he will try to enjoy the day.
The ceremony ended with everyone joining in on a congregational hymn, a rendition of the African-American spiritual song, "Guide My Feet."
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