CONWAY, Ark. (May 15, 2010) – Hendrix College conferred degrees upon more than 300 of its students during the college's 126th commencement ceremony Saturday. U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder, who represents the second congressional district of Arkansas, was the commencement speaker.
The 301 students recognized with undergraduate degrees combined with the seven who received graduate degrees comprised the largest graduating class in the college's history. The exercises took place inside the college's Wellness and Athletics Center. More than 2,000 people were in attendance.
Snyder, who is not seeking reelection this year following seven terms in office, told graduates that education had a historical significance in the U.S. during the past century.
"Most good things happened because of education," Snyder said. "Most of the bad things were due to lack of education."
He recounted a story told by his father, a World War II veteran, about being placed below deck on a military transport boat headed from New York to Europe. Because space was limited and soldiers were so tightly packed onto the ship, the soldiers were only given one hour above deck each day to enjoy fresh air and sunshine. After suffering through a horrible night below deck with violent rocking and seasickness, Snyder's father finally was able to go above deck for his hour in the sun – and discovered the ship was still docked in New York City. It was then he knew they were in deep trouble, Snyder said.
"You've experienced the rocking, but this is your hour in the sun," Snyder said. "But very soon you're about to go back under the deck," he added, encouraging the graduates to utilize their education and relationships to get them through life's struggles.
The Class of 2010 is the second Hendrix College class required to complete projects in the college's Odyssey Program, an experiential learning program that encourages outside-the-classroom educational experiences that in many cases are designed by the students themselves. The Hendrix Odyssey Program, established in 2004, gives students transcript credit for the projects and requires Hendrix students to complete three Odyssey experiences during their undergraduate career in areas selected from six categories: Artistic creativity, global awareness, professional and leadership development, service to the world, undergraduate research and special projects.
Matthew Thomas Youngblood of Rogers, Ark., carried the college's banner during the ceremony as the 2010 recipient of the Hendrix President's Medal. First awarded in 1980, the President's Medal is the top honor given to a graduating senior at Hendrix and is presented annually to the student who best exemplifies the highest ideals of the college.
Honors graduates Saturday included:
- Summa cum laude – Annie Ahn, Elizabeth Fasterling, Rachel Hamaker, Emily Harris, Laura Owen, Rachel Pollitzer, Katie Rice, Sheila Rupert, Caitlin Stevens, Courtney Taylor, Drew Tillis, Daniel Totten, Eleanor Wheeler, and Mallory Young.
- Magna cum laude – Lara Assaf, Kathleen Brannon, Blake Burkert, Ashley Gish, Brigid Goggin, Holly Hargrove, Laura Harpool, Dietlinde Heilmayr, Laura Johnson, Veronica Laizure, Emily Lenard, Caelan O'Sullivan, Nikolaus Ragula, Thomas Robins, Danielle Smull, and Paul Yin.
- Cum laude – Meagan Alban, Mitchell Allee, Kendra Anderson, Angela Bennett, Abigail Blaney, Ashley Cappiello, Katherine Cook, Allyson Curry, James Ewing, Rebecca Flynn, Nora Gibbons, Alberto Gomez, Kathleen Grant, Rebecca Harrison, Crista Hartenstein, Joseph Hayden, Nathan Hill, Hannah Hooker, Adam Iddings, Matthew Malecha, Caitlin Murphy, Dzung Nguyen, Alexandra Reilman, Beatrice Roger, Sarah Rosenkranz, Ben Samuelson, Russell Schultz, Blake Smith, Lauren Van Zandt, Molly Waldron, Allison Watts, Haining Wang, Minxi Weng, William Woody, and Youngblood.
Congressman Snyder has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1997 and was elected chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in 2007. He currently serves on three Congressional committees: the House Veterans Affairs Committee, the House Armed Services Committee and the Joint Economic Committee.
Before his career in public service, Congressman Snyder has distinguished careers of military service and as a medical doctor. Snyder attended college at Willamette University in Salem, Ore, before leaving between his sophomore and junior years for volunteer service in the U. S. Marine Corps, where he served from 1967-1969, ultimately earning the rank of corporal. He served for one year in Vietnam with Headquarters Company, First Marine Division. In 1973, Snyder returned to college at Willamette University. He earned his bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1975 and then attended medical school at the University of Oregon Health Sciences Center in Portland where he earned his medical doctorate in 1979.
Hendrix, founded in 1876, is a selective, residential, undergraduate liberal arts college emphasizing experiential learning in a demanding yet supportive environment. The college is featured in the 2010 edition of the Princeton Review as one of the country's best 371 colleges, was identified as the nation's top "Up and Coming" liberal arts college for 2010 by U.S. News and World Report, and is ranked among 44 "Best Buy" colleges by the 2010 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.