After a weekend of clouds and heavy rain, bright sunshine greeted the Class of 2011 Sunday, May 15, allowing Randolph College to hold its Commencement ceremony outside in The Mabel K. Whiteside Greek Theatre, a treasured spot on campus also known as The Dell.
The Honorable Shannon Valentine offered the Commencement address to the 107 graduates of the class, their friends and family, and the Randolph’s faculty and staff.
The Class of 2011 is the first class to enter the College under the name Randolph College, and the first fully coeducational class. The seniors represent 21 states and 13 countries.
President John E. Klein applauded the class for its contributions to campus. “This class is filled with women and men who can honestly call themselves pioneers,” Klein said. “You had the courage to tackle the unknown and the heart to lead this college’s transition. You have learned from the experience, and more importantly, from one another. Today, as you celebrate your time here—the memories, the friendships, and the accomplishments—you can look forward to the future with confidence.
Klein said class members have brought talent, energy, and intelligence to the campus.
“You have carved your own path, while preserving the traditions and commitment to learning that have long been the hallmarks of this great institution,” he said.
Valentine told graduates that their lives and what they do with them matters.
“What makes this Commencement different from any I have known, and perhaps different from any others taking place is that I am standing before a group of students who four years ago began a journey, with remarkable determination, even in the face of not knowing exactly what the future would hold,” she said. “And yet, you, later accompanied by graduate students, remain committed to this institution, to the noble traditions of Randolph-Macon, and the brilliance of Randolph College. You have forged a path where no one yet has ever traveled and have done so with great dignity.”
To the cheers of her classmates, Senior Class President Amanda Kaye Roberts ’11 said it will be difficult to leave what has become her home behind the Red Brick Wall. Roberts, who is in her second year as president of the Class of 2011, is a history major. She was the secretary for the Macon Activities Council, served in Bridges, and has been active in numerous other activities on campus.
“Our college is unlike most other places,” she said. “It is more than just bricks and mortar; it is our home. Inside its walls we have laughed and cried, fought amongst one another, and rejoiced. We sing silly songs, parade with pumpkins, and hunt for misspelled bricks. But most importantly, we create friendships and bonds that will last for many years. As someone pointed out to me, we are quite different from other places, and this should be a source of pride for us all.
“This campus has taught us to be involved, sometimes to the point of wishing we could clone ourselves,” Roberts added. “We manage to attend numerous meetings a day, while finishing homework, and still find time to have fake weddings on the lawn of Webb. Though it often seemed as though we were running backwards on the treadmill, we were able to push forward through the friction and are now prepared for the marathon of life.”
During the Commencement ceremony, Guan Wang ’11 received the highly prestigious Maude Fife Award, which is given each year to the student whose grades computed on a quality point ratio (QPR) are the highest in the senior class. In 2008, his score on the Virginia Tech Regional Mathematics Competition ranked first at Randolph College and also ranked in the top 15 percent of all students who competed. Since then, every year that he has competed, Wang has placed first at Randolph College. This year, in Randolph College’s first ever participation in the Putnam Mathematics Competition (the most highly regarded undergraduate mathematics competition in North America), Wang placed first at Randolph College. He is also only the second student in more than a decade to complete Honors in Mathematics. His honors paper was on the subject of “Non-Repetitive Sequences and the Tower of Hanoi.”
No matter where they go, Klein told graduates they were prepared to succeed and had the support of the entire Randolph College community. He reminded graduates that they had experienced in their own way the traditions, relationships, and events that countless alumnae before them still remember and hold dear.
“As you join the ranks of our alumnae and alumni, we hope you will continue to treasure these moments and carry them with you throughout your lives,” he said. “You leave these Red Brick Walls today, but remember that you do not leave alone. ..Go out and make a difference. Fulfill your dreams and never stop being pioneers.”