Benedictine College Commencement 2013
Congressman Ryan Addresses Record-Setting Graduating Class
- Monday, May 13, 2013
Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., held its 42nd Annual Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 11, 2013, in the Ralph Nolan Gymnasium on the Atchison campus. This year, the largest graduating class in the history of the college, 405 candidates, was honored. Congressman Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and former vice presidential candidate, delivered the Commencement Address.
The program included an unusually humor-filled speech from the class valedictorian, Alexander Urban. He completed his entire college career with straight A’s and a perfect 4.0 grade point average, receiving degrees in both Economics and Finance. He will go on to law school in the fall.
During the ceremony, Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis recognized two student leaders with the Fran Jabara Leadership Award. Kristen Oswald, president of the Student Government Association and a chemistry and biochemistry major, and Brad Lorang, football player, Academic All American and all-around student leader, received the annual award given to specially-selected graduating seniors at all Kansas colleges. The president also acknowledged eight students who were entering religious life. Just before the graduates walked across the stage, the college remembered RJ Demps, a student who was killed in a car accident in December 2011. Dr. Kimberly Shankman, Dean of the College, presented the Demps family with a memorial certificate recognizing the day he would have graduated.
Ryan, a Wisconsin native currently serving his 8th term in Congress, rose to national prominence as the vice-presidential nominee for the Republican Party during the 2012 presidential elections. In addition to being chairman of the House Budget Committee, he is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy, Social Security, health care and trade laws. He is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio, where he earned degrees in economics and political science.
“And my advice—in a nutshell—is to keep up the search,” Ryan said in his address. “If you still have questions after four years of college—if you’re not quite satisfied with the answers you have—discover for yourself what you really believe. Boil things down to basics. See how they add up. And if they don’t add up, keep looking. That’s why we call this a commencement—because there’s no end to your spiritual journey.”
Ryan went on to talk about his faith and its relationship to being a public servant. He talked about family, community and free enterprise, which he described as “the power of free people working together.” He talked about Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis and how they had made a difference in the world, showing solidarity with the poor and oppressed. He told the graduates they should guard against greed.
“Wealth is a means to an end. And the end isn’t a full bank account,” he said. “The end is a good life—one lived in accordance with God. And to live a truly good life, we must go beyond ourselves. We must minister to the poor and the sick.”
“I wish you continued success as you find your path,” he said in conclusion. “And whether you walk on the left side of the street or the right, whether you walk the straight and narrow—or you take the scenic route—I hope you will always walk with God.”
Benedictine’s Commencement Weekend included several additional ceremonies indicating professional development. The Benedictine College Nursing Program honored 25 new nurses in a pinning ceremony that included the blessing of hands. Engineers graduating from the Engineering Department entered the Order of the Engineer in a ring ceremony. And cadets from the Army ROTC program and the Marine ROTC program were commissioned as officers.
Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is proud to have been consistently named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report. It has also been named a Leader in Educational Excellence by Colleges of Distinction as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College and First Things magazine. Benedictine prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.
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