By Darryl E. Owens
An old English proverb promises that “all things come to those who wait.”
For collegians, that proverb was put to the test thanks to the global COVID-19 pandemic putting the kibosh on large gatherings.
In the months since, COVID-19 robbed American college students — and their families — of a proud moment for which many long labored. A moment for which many scrimped and saved. A moment that for many would conclude with proud capped and gowned collegians ambling across the stage while hearing their names announced as the first college graduates in their families.
For many, a moment forever lost.
For Beacon College students in the classes of 2020 and 2021, however, a moment that finally arrived on October 3 as the College celebrated their accomplishments during its extended 2021 Commencement exercise at the Brownwood Hotel & Spa in Wildwood, Fla.
During the long-awaited ceremony, Beacon saluted one of its pioneers, Dr. Marsha Glines, the College’s founding president, with an honorary doctorate.
In her acceptance address, Glines touched on an apropos theme of resilience, recalling how Beacon rose like the mythical phoenix from the embers of a failed dream.
“Some of my most proud personal and professional achievements, creations, experiences and epiphanies have been a result of great failures,” she said. “Beacon College emerged from the ashes of one of my biggest project failures — an idea and project with merit, but the time and place wasn’t right. Having courage along with resilience and the support of other likeminded individuals who shared this vision … Beacon College emerged grounded in the educational pedagogy of its failed forerunner.”
Similarly, Glines underscored how resilience paved the long and winding road this dual batch of graduates rode to the finish line.
“It has been a tough, trying, challenging time. But you, our graduates have persevered and have shown courage in your commitment to complete the degrees you are being awarded today,” she said. “Courage does not mean there have not been moments of fear, of anxiety, of self-doubt. Courage means you have not let fear stop you from achieving this goal today.”
That goal had been a long time coming for the class of 2020 — some 17 months.
Yet, graduates (mostly) showed up and showed out. The college also virtually acknowledged graduates who weren’t present in a class that boasted 88 degree recipients — seven A.A., 12 A.S., 28 B.A., and 41 B.S. degrees — led by valedictorian Glenn Michael Popovics and salutatorian Mandy Lin Katz.
The more recently minted Class of 2021 stands as the College’s largest graduating class — 112 students. Valedictorian Isabela Gabrielle Lim Chavez and salutatorian Lily R. Bohn paced a class with students earning 14 A.A., 13, A.S., 28 B.A., and 57 B.S. degrees.
With words of wisdom and encouragement, Beacon President George J. Hagerty at once channeled Henry David Thoreau and Bob Dylan to close out the ceremony, urging students to “go confidently in the direction of your dreams” and during that pursuit, “may you stay forever young.”