Former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey told graduates of LaGrange College on Saturday they are “uniquely prepared” to change the world and are more global and idealistic in their thinking than his own generation.
“We’re counting on you to be more capable than we were,” Kerrey said.
Kerrey, who spent 10 years as president of The New School University in New York City, said he had five items of “surpremely forgettable” advice for the class of 2012.
• “If you don’t have a hero, acquire one,” he said, suggesting the graduates look no further than those who had gone before them at LaGrange College.
• “Write good rules for yourself, and keep to those rules,” he said.
• “Be a hero to someone else,” he said. “Always be there for someone when they need you.”
• “Write and practice reading good sentences.”
• “Make certain you thank people,” he said.
Kerrey, a former Navy Seal who served in Vietnam, was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree by the college. LaGrange College President Dan McAlexander called him “the best of his generation.”
“He is always willing to seek common ground for the common good,” he said. “He is a true national hero and a quintessential statesman.”
McAlexander said it’s been a transformative few years for the class of 2012, who arrived on campus just before the collapse of the economy and election of President Barack Obama. The new Frank and Laura Lewis Library opened during their time on campus, and former college President Stuart Gulley left.
To cheers, McAlexander also noted the LaGrange College Panther football team, who ended their losing streak with a run to the conference championship.
“It’s a turnaround record that still stands today,” he said, “and some of you were on that team.”
Senior Christa Von Borstel was awarded the Waights G. Henry Award, given in honor of the college’s 20th president to a student whose academic career combines academic achievement and service.
“LaGrange College does not produce ordinary people,” Von Borstel told her fellow graduates. “We are potential world changers.”
The college also presented an honorary doctor of humanities degree to Paula Lawton Bevington, an Atlanta-area businesswoman, fund raiser and community leader. Bevington was the first female president of the Rotary Club of Atlanta and is a longtime supporter of the Georgia Independent Colleges Association.
Nancy Kight Stevens, class of 1971, received the college’s distinguished alumni award. She also received a master’s degree from the college in 1974. Stevens retired as principal of West Side Magnet School and also was a former executive director of the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra.
Editor's note: story amended to correct a name.