On Saturday, May 11, 2019, the Rutersville Bell rang out five times to announce the opening of Southwestern University 2019 commencement ceremony. This year, Southwestern welcomed 327 new graduates to their alumni ranks. Sporting their mortar boards and their colorful array of cords and hoods, 300 students received their diplomas, with another 27 graduating in absentia. Among these graduates, 30 graduated Paideia with Distinction, and nine earned departmental honors.

Stan Kannegieter ’19Stan Kannegieter ’19

During the convocation, Stan Kannegieter ’19, an international student from the Netherlands who was selected by his peers in the Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society to speak at commencement, thanked the Southwestern faculty for “the thousands of pages you have assigned us to read, the hundreds of pages you have assigned us to write, for the hours in the library and at the computer, for blurred eyes and cramping fingers … but also for the knowledge—and perhaps the wisdom—you have helped us to attain.” Kannegieter’s speech recounted how he has overcome a variety of setbacks in his earlier educational and athletic careers only to find success as a mathematics and economics double major and a collegiate basketball player and at Southwestern.

The commencement address was delivered by Dr. Timothy Boone ’77, professor and chair of the Urology Department and codirector of the Institute for Academic Medicine at Houston Methodist Hospital. As a 30-year practitioner and scholar of the medical arts, Boone exhorted the new graduates to find a passion and purpose in their chosen careers rather than exhibiting mere competence; to practice self-care, finding a place of refuge within oneself to recharge and reflect; to build resilience through productive failure; and to pay it forward with gratitude and grace. Boone exemplified many of his suggestions by expressing appreciation for his supportive family as well as his mentors at Southwestern and by recounting growth opportunities he discovered during failures he learned from in organic chemistry. “Decisions are made by those who show up. So show up!” Boone concluded. “If you have seriousness of purpose, garner wisdom from your failures, and serve a calling bigger than yourself, you will succeed.”

Dr. Timothy Boone ’77Dr. Timothy Boone ’77

Boone received an honorary degree from the University for his professional accomplishments and support of Southwestern.

Members of the Student Philanthropy Council also proudly announced at the convocation that 80% of the Class of 2019 had made a gift to the University, with 63% joining the Tower Society by making a gift of $20.19. This year’s graduates also broke a record in endowing their individual class scholarship. Since 2015, each graduating class has aimed to build a scholarship of a minimum of $25,000 by their fifth-year reunion. The Class of 2019 and their families gave $143,783.90 to Southwestern this year alone, endowing their $30,000-plus class scholarship before graduation.

“With the help of our families and friends, the Class of 2019 Scholarship Fund surpassed its goal of $25,000 in the fall of 2017,” said Amari Bethel ’19. “This allowed us to be the first class to endow our class’s scholarship before graduation! Because of this, in the fall of 2019, a new Southwestern student will receive a scholarship in our class’s name.” The new graduates’ generosity will support future students’ Southwestern Experience, and Marissa Morin ’19 encouraged students to continue giving back to the University.

Class of 2019Class of 2019

Congratulations, graduates! We hope that these coming weeks and months will find you resting after so much hard work, reflecting on the many accomplishments you’ve achieved, cherishing the lifelong friendships you’ve built, and embarking on exhilarating new adventures.

Miss the event? Check out the entire Commencement Convocation on video. 

View photos from Commencement Convocation.

View photos from Celebrating 50 Years of Black Excellence.

View photos from the Phi Beta Kappa Induction Ceremony.