Commencement Remarks to the Graduating Class of 2013

As Alumni Association President I had the recent pleasure of speaking at the College’s 143rd Commencement Ceremony. Below are my remarks as presented to the graduating class of 2013.

Good morning, and welcome to the graduating class of 2013! My name is David Gilliss, I am a member of the Class of 1980, and I am President of the Alumni Association.

I majored in Political Science while I was here on campus —

and I am passionate about Wooster.

I had the pleasure of following my brother Ed to Wooster. Ed was in the Class of 1977. I met my wife of now 28 years, Karen Wilson, Class of 1981, here at the College. My nephew, Tim– Class of 2010, is also a graduate of Wooster, and as you all know, my daughter, Lauren, and my nephew, Tom, are in this stellar class of some 400 graduates.

I am also President of the Alumni Board, which is the representative body of 25 members which constitutes the governing body of the Alumni Association.

Our mission is to develop and strengthen the Wooster network, among other duties of the Association, to the benefit of the alumni and of the College.

I arrived on campus this weekend on Friday – my prepared remarks were all ready to go. But, as always happens to me when I return to campus, and it will to you as well, I was newly inspired—mostly by you all, the graduating seniors.

I was inspired by the awards ceremony on Saturday afternoon. I was inspired by spending time with students on Saturday night, and I was inspired by the Baccalaureate on Sunday morning. So I tossed my planned remarks and now have just five points I want to make.

My first point is about you, the Wooster students. In typical Wooster fashion, the talent level of this class is amazing. The breadth and depth of experience and knowledge is remarkable. You see that in the incredible I.S. projects, and you see that in the awards ceremony of Saturday afternoon. Being a Political Science major, I loved hearing about the student studying the effects of gravity on straight lines – you will recall that Newton studied the effects of gravity on spherical objects. Apparently, this student’s research was much harder than that conducted by Newton (my being a Political Science major – I will just have to take their word for that!), and it just goes to show you that the level of undergraduate research being conducted on this campus is unparalleled.

The second point is the Wooster education you have received. You now have the educational base of knowledge and a world-class education to prepare you for a global economy. You have learned how to be a critical thinker and a problem-solver. You know how to write and how to communicate an idea.

You are ready! Take on the next challenge.

Third, is the Wooster network. What is the Wooster network? It is a group of some 25,000 alumni from all around the world. Those alums have been where you are sitting now and those alums are people who can now help you to get where you want to be. On a smaller scale, the Wooster network is the eight recent grads whom I met in Washington, D.C. I recently had dinner with them and talked with them about how they want to get the many alums in Washington organized to help new grads and recent grads network both socially and professionally. It is also the Wooster grad and now entrepreneur who looks to hire Wooster grads. He prefers them because they are smart, disciplined, hard-working, and good writers and communicators.

It is also the seven people – all classmates of mine from Wooster  — with whom I am in daily contact. They are spread out over four states and in three different countries. They look out for Wooster graduates. They do what they can to connect them with others.

It is also the countless other groups of Wooster grads out there – wanting to help the newest members of the graduating class.

And lastly, and importantly, it is the College – through APEX and through the alumni office — who will be looking out for you. For you parents out there, APEX is the College’s commitment to Wooster students for advising, planning, and experiential learning.

Ryan Ozar of APEX said this about the Wooster network: “The Tartan is currency, and it goes far.” I want you to remember that, the Tartan is currency.

Fourth, the networking generation. You are the Networking Generation. You have used Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other networks. You network intuitively. You already have the experience in networking. Join with your College and the Alumni Association and use the Wooster network to your advantage.

And fifth and finally, your success. All of us want you to succeed, and we want you to find that job, or school, or position that is right for you. You will receive e-mails and letters from the association. Choose to engage! Participate every year in The Wooster Fund. Know that participation is more important than the amount contributed. Join with us to make our Wooster network even stronger than it is today – to the benefit of all of us, and most especially, to the benefit of all of you, the newest graduates of The College of Wooster.

And this idea from a student on Saturday night – there was so much to do in Wooster that she did not get a chance to do as a student. She is planning to return for homecoming and reunion weekends. Do it. You will be welcomed back. Come home, to Wooster!

The hard work is over – for now. Let’s get the network kick-started. Let’s put those 25,000 to work. Congratulations to the Class of 2013!

David Gilliss (’80)
College of Wooster Alumni Association

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