2017 Winter Commencement Challenges Graduates to Better the World

UMKC students at graduationApproximately 1,000 University of Missouri-Kansas City graduates, friends and families filled Swinney Auditorium to celebrate the culmination of years of late nights and hard work as graduates claimed their diplomas. The university held three ceremonies on Saturday, Dec. 16 and presented two honorary doctorate degrees.

After receiving her honorary degree, Candice Millard, journalist and best-selling author, addressed College of Arts and Sciences graduates Saturday morning, reminding them of the value of hard work as they journey into the next phase of their lives.

“It’s not enough to be smart,” said Millard. “It’s not enough to be brilliant – genius even. If you don’t work hard, all that candle power, all that blazing potential will go to waste, and that would be a shame because, speaking on behalf of the rest of the world, we need you.”

Millard also gave a tip for graduates looking to make the best of the first-class education they received at UMKC, noting that “if you want to do something real and valuable with your life, if you want to be happy, get to work.” By work, Millard was referring to “not just how you’ll make your mark on the world but how you’ll leave it a better place.”

David Von Drehle, author and editor at large for the Washington Post, received the second honorary degree and addressed graduates at the multi-school ceremony Saturday afternoon.

Von Drehle encouraged students to deliberately “seek diversity in your lives. Seek out people who think differently from you and spend time with them – not in confrontation, but in community.”

Interim Chancellor and Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer congratulated graduates in her opening remarks and gave recognition to the families, friends, faculty and staff who supported them along the way.

“Through today’s ceremonies, we commend our graduates. We also recognize that your accomplishment is not yours alone. Many people played a role in your success,” said Bichelmeyer as graduates cheered with gratitude for their personal support systems.

UM System Curator John Phillips spoke at one ceremony, stating “the top-notch education you’ve received as UMKC graduates, along with the support of our talented faculty and researchers has equipped you with the skills and knowledge to meet today’s global challenges and present the world with tomorrow’s solutions.”

After crossing the stage to collect their diplomas and move their tassels to the left, graduates were officially welcomed into the ranks of more than 122,000 UMKC Alumni – half of which live and work in the Kansas City metro area. Excitement ignited in the auditorium from the accomplishment of finally reaching the end of their journeys.

“You should feel proud of your accomplishment and confident in your future,” said Bichelmeyer.

Other commencement speakers included Frank Wewers, president of FLI-TEK Consulting, and student speaker Kathryn Bean (B.S.J., MBA, ’17) who both spoke at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management commencement Saturday evening.

This story was originally published on December 19, 2017, on UMKC  Today.