On May 12, the Southwestern University Alumni Association welcomed 332 new alumni as 287 students received their diplomas, with another 45 graduating in absentia. Among these graduates, 141 were Paideia Scholars and two graduated Paideia with Distinction. During the past four years, the Class of 2018 participated in collaborative research in record numbers. They watched the groundbreaking and dedication of both Phase I and Phase II of the Fondren-Jones Science Center. These students have left their mark on the Southwestern University campus both figuratively and literally as 225 participated in the time-honored tradition of signing the Cullen Tower.

During Commencement Convocation, members of the Student Philanthropy Council proudly announced that the Class of 2018 had given back to the University in record numbers. 84% made a gift to the University and a record breaking 65% joined the Tower Society by making a gift of $20.18. In total, the graduates and their families gave $31,434.90 to Southwestern this year alone, endowing a $25,000 class scholarship before graduation. As a result, future Southwestern students will receive a scholarship in this class’s name and—at their 5th reunion—the Class of 2018 will be able to meet four students whose Southwestern Experience was supported by their generosity.

Commencement 2018

Speakers at Commencement Convocation included two graduates, Angelica Grayson and Yash Gandhi. Grayson, who was elected to speak by the Class of 2018, gave a speech titled  “Signed, Sealed, Graduated: Our Southwestern Experience.” She touched on the Southwestern Experience, the value of her liberal arts education, and not letting moments pass you by.

Gandhi, who was elected by his peers in the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, put his physics and mathematics double major to work by giving the audience a lesson in math. The lesson focused on spending less of our lives considering the derivative, only looking at how fast we are changing, and instead spending more looking at the integral, the sum of everything up to now.

The Commencement Address was given by Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton, retired president of The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. She spoke of her high school years and of being the only African American student to graduate from Little Rock Central High School in 1962. She explained how she was shunned by her classmates.  For three years no one spoke to her or acknowledged her presence. She was not invited to Class of 1962 reunions until 1982 when a member of her class advocated that she be added to the 20th reunion invitation list. They sat together at the reunion as many of her former classmates stopped by to express regret that they never made an effort to acknowledge or to be kind to her. The classmate who stood up for her affirmed the great lesson of her life, Hampton said. “One person—one courageous person—can make a difference.” She urged graduates to remember the “power of one” as they move forward in their future endeavors.

Commencement 2018

Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton, Robert Graham, and Dr. Robert Karr ’71 all received honorary degrees from the University for their professional accomplishments and support of Southwestern.

Congratulations, Graduates! You did it!  After years of hard work and dedication, you’ve earned your degree and a lot more along the way. We applaud you for reaching this important milestone. We look forward to welcoming the Class of 2018 to the Alumni Association and to the many activities in cities across the nation, and back to campus for Homecoming 2018.

Watch the 2018 Commencement Convocation Ceremony.

View photos from Commencement.

View photos from the Multicultural Recognition Ceremony.

View photos from the Phi Beta Kappa Induction Ceremony.