the class of 2013

Faculty members share reflections about our senior class each year, which were compiled by Wally Metts and presented at the senior dinner on May 2.


It is my honor this evening to express our thanks, as a faculty, for the privilege of joining you in the journey from anxious freshmen to, well maybe, anxious senior.

We don’t apologize about the anxious bit.  About the sophomore check, for example.

But you should know we are not as anxious about you as you are.  This is a remarkable class made up of remarkable people, and we are confident that you go forth as the credible, creative Christian professionals we intended you to become.

This is, we believe, the first class to make our mission your own.  Individuals, before, certainly.  But as a class, you got it and embraced it.  And we are proud of who you are and who you have become.

 So we start tonight with our advertising and public relations majors.

 Abbie Godmair, you are the kind of credible, creative professional who shows up  and does your part.  If you are giving a speech, for example,  you dress up. You are dependable, capable, and, did we say, professional. We’re not saying you like to give speeches.  We’re just saying you like to do what you expected to do, and to do it well.   You really get the professional part, and you will be a blessing to those you work with.

Laura Guikema you are also a quiet, capable woman who embodies our mission by consistently doing first class work.  You are more organized than some of your teachers, but you have an attentive, teachable spirit, which makes you a joy inside and out of the classroom.  If any of you ever become president you want Laura to be your chief of staff, unless of course she is the president.  You would be lucky to work for her.

Regardless of what job any of you have, make sure you hire creative self-starters like Bethany Jelen.  Bethany we respect so much your professionalism, as you have juggled a demanding schedule in an alternative universe called American Eagle.  You have grown as a professional under very demanding time constraints and we applaud your effervescence and persistence.

We applaud too your equally effervescent colleague Kristen Larson.  Kristen we hope you do get a job in admissions, but don’t tell everyone how you had to learn to smoke a cigarette for Crimes of the Heart.  We know you as a quality person who does quality work, and does so with intelligence and integrity.  You can own a character on stage, but in real life you own a character in your own right, and a very authentic and refreshing one.

So many of you share this same capacity for joy. Arielle Sheffield, you are easy to work with and be around, with an eye for the creative and a respect for others.  We commend you to the potential of a life lived thoughtfully and well, a life marked by service and stretched by sacrifice.

We just hope you will learn to ask as many questions as Alyse Stucker   Alyse we could always count on you when others were silent.  And what we could count on you for were practical, thoughtful questions: the how and the why as well as the what and the when. You wanted to get the facts right and the story straight.  And this will make you a productive member of any communication team.

Such as the award winning team of broadcast majors Haley Taylor will assemble at NPR some day.  Haley, you have pursued a dream of your own.  Here we call that an individualized major.   But this is fitting. You are a self- motivated artist and a gifted storyteller. We look forward to hearing you at commencement next weekend, but we look forward to hearing you on the radio for years to come.

You might want to recruit George Jackson for your team, by the way.  Because of, you know, the voice.  Deep, big, booming.  George, we have never met a bigger voice attached to a gentler soul.  You are the Morgan Freeman of our department and your persistence encourages us all.

So does the persistence of your colleague Cheyenne Martinez-Triveno. Cheyenne, you came to us with little knowledge of video production, but not only did you put in the time to be a stand-out soccer player you put in the time to become a very proficient videographer.  And you did this while earning a more important reputation as a friend to all, accepting and encouraging others in ways that are genuine and fun. We won’t forget you.

We won’t forget any of our drama majors either, leastwise the unforgettably affable Buddy in Diviners, played by the equally unforgettable Paul McKinley.  Paul, we want to say we’re glad you didn’t accept the job as a model while your were in India with Jen Letherer.  And we also want to say we commend your authentic sincerity and your dedication to Christ and His theater.  You have wanted to learn because you have wanted to serve.  We could ask nothing more.

And we got nothing less from your colleague Brian Weber, our favorite theatrical mayor.  Brian, we think you have one of the best interpretive voice talents we’ve seen.  It is a blessing to hear you perform, with linguistic capability in great measure and comic timing to spare.

We only wish you knew as much about sports as professional writing major Megan Filipowski, except no knows as much as about sports as Megan, or at least about that team from Detroit. Megan, we are so glad you didn’t turn out to be a one-trick pony.  The diversity of your commitment and service has brought joy, passion and intelligence to lots of non-sports endeavors.  At the sophomore check we told you to stop writing in the passive voice and by the next semester you were editing the Pulse.   We look forward to the day you are the communication director of the major league baseball team called the Tigers.

And then there is our not quite but almost professional writing major Sydney Williams, whose technical skills will take her further faster than the rest of us.  Sydney, you are a tough skinned city girl with a softening heart, a heart that gets the story about the key thief but melts with compassion for the stray dog in Argentina, and for the many unsung sorrows around us.  You will make a good Pulse editor next fall.  And someday you will help bridge the gap between technology and human need.  It is, my mate friend, a worthy quest.

Perhaps our sole visual communication graduate this year can help.  Nicole Ellis is ridiculously likable, another student whose outside job added a dimension to her learning.  Nicole, you were a server with a servant heart, and you have learned much about listening and loving than isn’t found in any textbook. And you were good at the textbooks too.

You are a woman of amazing hidden talent.  Oh wait, I’m talking about Nichole Clary, one of our video/film majors. Nichole, you are passionate about your ideas and work hard to see them develop.  As you discover those things that motivate you we believe you will fly higher than you ever imagined.  Because your heart is deeper than we know.

No one imagines much about Jordan Cuatt, however, who just recently cranked out a 145-page script.  Jordan, we think you have a great work ethic, a great sense of humor and a great heart.  We find you delightfully quirky and wonderfully talented—like so many of your film making peers in this class.  Michael Gearhart, Evan Jarvi, and Katelyn Wheeler.

Michael, you are the kind of guy we want on our team, especially if we are looking for a drum somewhere in Delhi.  Your encouraging spirit makes you a good team member and a good team leader.  Watching you mature as a film-maker has been a blessing. The race before you leads to significance far beyond trophies.

And Evan, you are a true superhero, at least in the video lab.  You answer so many of our technical questions with humility and grace, and we promise not to charge you rent for all the hours you spent camped out in the lab. You have expanded our mission by adding words like witty, skilled, organized, and meticulous to credible, creative and professional.  You have been all of those.

A list to which you, Katelyn, have added being poised and polished.  You are a talented leader on the right track to achieve professional goals that matter.  We will say we knew you before you won an Oscar but after you won a trip to the Rose Bowl.

We will celebrate all of your achievements.  And we say this to you all.  Let us know when you get that first job, that first promotion, that first child.  We want to see the grace of God poured out in your lives.

But know this.  The grace of God may not look like a trophy or a raise.  It sometimes comes through great loss or difficult lessons.  In fact, it always comes then.

So if you have found among us a mentor now, we will be mentors then, when things don’t make sense or come together.

Call us.  We will cry with you.  We will pray with you.  And we will encourage you.

We are so grateful to have done so already.  We will be grateful if you invite us to continue.

And about that anxiety.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything with prayer and thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God, who, James tells us, gives generously to all without reproach.

Thanks again for the privilege of serving you.

And thanks be to God for pouring his grace into our lives through the remarkably credible, creative, Christian professional class of 2013.










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