More than one speaker had a similar message for 59 students completing their programs at Hartford Seminary: Graduation represents not an ending but a beginning of the hard work ahead to help heal a struggling world.
President Joel N. Lohr, presiding over his first graduation, told the graduates, “You’ve been prepared for a meaningful life through Hartford Seminary.”
He urged graduates to continue the Seminary’s legacy of peace and reconciliation: “What will you do with your degree, your certificate, your huge achievement? Will you be content with leading an average life, or will you strive, with God’s help, to give your all to the causes of peacebuilding, education, dialogue, and deepening faith in the world? Our world needs you. Go out and make a difference!
The graduation address was delivered by Dr. Sarah Sayeed, Chair and Executive Director of the New York City Civic Engagement Commission.
She spoke to graduates about embracing the complexity of life and its challenges, as well as embracing differences of opinion.
“Can we listen with our whole beings, not just our minds?” she asked.
She asked the graduates to keep two things in mind as they go forward. First, to be mindful of their own need for spiritual nourishment.
“Take time to strengthen and renew yourselves,” she said. “Often the people working the hardest to charge the world take care of themselves the least.”
Second, she challenged the graduates to think of themselves as “civic engagement specialists” who can “serve as a voice of moral clarity.”
“We need your leadership to discover and revive the common good.”
Following the conferring of degrees, Hartford Seminary writing prizes were presented to three students:
- Jayleigh Lewis received the Hartranft Scholarship Fund prize.
- Kyra Jenney received the William Thompson Fund prize.
- Kelly David received the Bennett Tyler Scholarship Fund prize.
The winner of the 14th Annual Celie J. Terry Prize, awarded to a student who demonstrates a commitment to academic achievement and excellence in interfaith community work, was Danang Kurniawan.
And the first annual Preaching Award, determined at a preaching competition in April, went to Safwan Shaikh and David Figliuzzi.
A link to the gallery of professional photos will be posted on the website and sent to all graduates next week. A video of the entire ceremony can be viewed below. Click on the CC symbol for closed captioning.