Carthage bids fond farewell to Class of 2018
At the formal sendoff for the Carthage Class of 2018, speakers advised the new graduates to savor the moment and then proceed with open-mindedness and integrity.
A total of 577 students participated in the Commencement ceremony Sunday, May 27, in the Field House of the N. E. Tarble Athletic and Recreation Center. In addition to the Bachelor of Arts and Master of Education, Carthage awarded Master of Science degrees to the first cohort in its business design and innovation graduate program.
Presidential historian Jon Meacham gave the Commencement address on the same day his new book, “The Soul of America: The Battle for our Better Angels,” became No. 1 on the New York Times nonfiction best-seller list. The subtitle is derived from a famous quote by Abraham Lincoln, who, as Mr. Meacham pointed out, served as an early trustee of the College.
“Keep an ear open to the notes of those better angels,” the author said. “Carthage has taught you to hear that music. Never shut it off.”
Mr. Meacham, who won a Pulitzer Prize for a biography of Andrew Jackson, peppered his talk with lessons gleaned from American history. Rather than dismissing people with opposing views as “beneath contempt and beyond redemption,” he implored the outgoing class to search for common ground.
“Don’t let any single cable network or Twitter feed tell you what to think,” Mr. Meacham said, drawing effusive cheers from the audience.
A day earlier, through the Johnson Distinguished Visitors Program, he conducted a live question-and-answer session on campus. Carthage president John R. Swallow and Mr. Meacham became well-acquainted as academic colleagues at The University of the South, which is also their shared alma mater.
Borrowing quotes from rapper Drake and “The Office,” Andrew Seymour ’18 delivered the senior class address. An accounting and finance major from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, he received that honor as winner of the Distinguished Senior Award.
Looking back on a college journey that began shortly after his father’s death, Andrew expressed gratitude to friends, family, and faculty for propelling him forward. He urged classmates to tackle whatever lies ahead as passionate, hard-working, well-rounded individuals — but not until sharing the celebratory day with one another.
“Let’s not let today escape,” he said. “Turn as many goodbyes into see-you-laters as possible.”
President Swallow greeted his first graduating class at Carthage since taking office in July. He empathized with parents in the audience, explaining that commencement for the older of his two children was approaching.
“They are no longer students,” he said. “They are young adults, ready to change the world.”
The ceremony also featured remarks by Board of Trustees chair David A. Straz Jr., who is concluding his service on the board, and a variety of musical performances. Preceding Commencement on the weekend schedule were the New Alumni Convocation and Promenade Dinner on Friday and the Baccalaureate service on Saturday.