For Peace University graduates, a mix of joy and sadness

anlee@newsobserver.comMay 3, 2014 

— The Main Green at William Peace University filled with families Saturday morning eager to see this year’s graduates cross the stage in their distinctive green robes. Many decorated their caps with four-leaf clovers, to symbolize good luck.

The procession began at Dinwiddie Chapel and wound around a block behind the Main Building, past the historic fountain and to the tent where the audience waited.

Some of the graduates wore huge grins, but others fought to hold back tears. Some quickly left the line for an over-the-top photo and then ran to get back in place.

The day’s mild temperatures and clear skies were a perfect setting for the downtown Raleigh school’s 142nd commencement ceremony.

By the numbers: The commencement consisted of three honorary doctorate recipients, 35 graduates from the School of Professional Studies and 118 recipients of undergraduate degrees.

Commencement address: Mayor Nancy McFarlane was the commencement speaker as well as one of three recipients of an honorary doctorate in humanities. She reminded the graduates to be appreciative and accepting of others while always remaining true to oneself. She offered a personal example. People saw in her the potential to be a leader, she said, but her one true passion was helping others. She realized she could be a leader and remain true to her desire to help. “What is your constant thread?” she said. “Find this thread and remain true to it.”

Setting an exceptional example: Jaye Wurtzel watched her daughter, Elizabeth Claire Wurtzel, proceed from the chapel as the graduates walked along the pathway leading up to the stage. In Jaye’s company was her 4-month-old granddaughter, Sejal. Elizabeth Wurtzel earned a bachelor of arts in business administration. Jaye Wurtzel proudly called her daughter an amazing student and noted that she completed much of her studies while she was pregnant and later caring for Sejal. Elizabeth Wurtzel, who has always been an honors student, is setting a example for her daughter, Jaye Wurtzel said. She looks forward to the day when she can see her granddaughter walk across the stage as well.

Traditions: At the start of the ceremony, the graduates proceeded from Dinwiddie Chapel, the same place they went for academic convocation as a freshman. A bagpiper led the group until everyone was gathered on the stage. After the ceremony, the graduates gathered around the historic fountain to sing the alma mater in unison. They threw roses into the fountain to symbolize the end of the ceremony and the beginning of a new journey.

A Peaceful end: Hannah Murphy, who received the Outstanding Graduate Award, urged her fellow graduates to always believe in themselves and to follow their traditions. The school followed its own tradition of giving a Bible to each graduate.

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