Originally published April 27, 2013

Mid-semester major changes, tough college courses and busy extra-curricular schedules didn’t hold back about 3,000 Grand Valley State University seniors from taking hold of their college diplomas — and futures — at Saturday’s commencement ceremonies.

Family and friends packed the Van Andel Arena to witness the graduates cross the stage and hear Gov. Rick Snyder offer words of advice during the morning address. Snyder, who earned an honorary Doctorate of Public Administration from GVSU, shared seven lessons that he learned over the course of his life.

He advised the graduates in attendance to build a vision for their careers, follow their passions, find mentors to learn from, manage risks, treat everyone like a special customer, engage in his trademarked relentless positive action, and stay connected with family and friends.

Snyder said the aforementioned principles contributed to his accomplishments not only as a politician, but as a functioning member of the Michigan community.

While the governor looked with hope on the future, many at the ceremony were caught in a wave of nostalgia and reflected on the past.

Professor Sheldon Kopperl, who delivered the reflection at the morning ceremony, took time to remember the course of the university.

“We remember with gratitude as well celebrate the 50th year of the entry of the brave Grand Valley State College pioneering class of 226 students and 14 faculty members,” Kopperl said. “What must’ve been on their minds as they entered the college in the cornfield to begin their careers in Allendale as students and teachers?”

GVSU President Thomas Haas considered the more immediate past of the college—namely, the memory of the graduating class and its role in the university’s history.

“Our campus community was a better place because you were here, and we are confident in your abilities to make positive differences wherever your dreams may take you,” Haas said to the graduating class.

Also at the morning ceremony, Haas granted an honorary Doctorate of Public Service to Patricia Birkholz, who held a long career in the Michigan government. Laurie Beard, president and CEO of Founder’s Bank and Trust, received the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Douglas Rothwell, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan, and artist Hubert Massey received honorary doctorates at the afternoon ceremony, where music professor Arthur Campbell also received the Outstanding Educator Award.


Original publication: http://www.lanthorn.com/article/2013/04/snyder-addresses-gv-graduates