Professors and staff give advice to graduating seniors

Graduation is less than a month away. Leaving William Jewell College, home for the last three or four years of students’ lives, can be a time of mixed emotions. “The Hilltop Monitor” asked William Jewell faculty and staff members to share advice for the graduating seniors.

Dr. Mark Walters, English department chair:

“Don’t waste much time brooding about the past or fretting about the future; be attentively, patiently, where you are. Cultivate habits of kindness, curiosity, reflection and gratitude.”

Dr. Kenneth Alpern, senior tutor of the Oxbridge Honors Program, provided a cartoon piece in place of written advice:


Dr. Elizabeth Sperry, philosophy department chair:

“Many graduating seniors think they need to plan out their entire post-college lives. This doesn’t work! And trying to make it work will leave you feeling stressed and anxious. What does work is to plan your next step while trusting that each step after that will become clear at the appropriate time.”

Dr. Lori Wetmore, professor of chemisty, shared this quote:

“‘I knew before that God gave life to men and desires that they should live; now I understood more than that. I understood that God does not wish men to live apart, and therefore he does not reveal to them what each one needs for himself, but he wishes them to live united, and therefore reveals to each of them what is necessary for all. I have now understood that though it seems to men that they live by care for themselves, in truth it is love alone by which they live. He who has love, is in God, and God is in him, for God is love.’  —from “What Men Live By,” Leo Tolstoy”

Dr. Paul Klawinski, biology department chair:

“Don’t think you know so much that you can stop learning. Always associate yourself with people smarter/better than you AND always associate yourself with people who are struggling with what you are involved with. You will be better for it because you will learn from them things you would not learn on your own.”

Dr. Michael Foster, French professor:

“Always be open to new experiences and never be afraid of trying anything new.”

Dr. Bradley Chance, religion department chair: 

“Congratulations to all graduating seniors. It’s quite a milestone. When you get old, like me, you get to offer words of wisdom, based on years of experience—so the common wisdom goes, anyway. Stay open. That’s my counsel. Stay open to what life in the moment offers. Plans, goals, objectives and such are all important. If you’ve ever seen one of my Moodle sites, I do plan. But don’t miss out on the present, the only moment that really exists because you are bogged down by the frustrations of a past that lives only in memory or a future that lives only in anticipation. Ecclesiastes may be the most honest book in the Bible. The short version: all the effort we expend is ‘vanity of vanities,’ or as the group Kansas, from my college days, put it: Dust in the Wind. So, ‘Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has long ago approved what you do . . . Whatever your hand finds to do, do with your might; for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.’”

Dr. Pat Schoenrade, professor of psychology:

“In the words of Soren Kierkegaard, ‘Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.’ Keep living, then, and glancing back, and the pattern will form. Keep your heart open to the possibility that the God who created you is pursuing you with an adventure beyond what you imagine possible.”

Dr. Jennifer Colón, Spanish professor, offered advice for Commencement:

“Practice in the shoes you will wear for commencement beforehand. Falling down the Hill to the Mabee Center isn’t cute. Caps on your head should look like the flat part of a nail, no slant. You won’t know how to wear your hood properly. Faculty marshals will help you. Then you will help each other. That’s how it is in life. This whole day, commencement, is the celebration of your success on this Hill. Enjoy the day. We love to see our alumni. Come back. Talk to us. Talk to our current students. Visit us.”

Mr. Nathan Wyman, director of Jewell Theatre Company:

“A wise man once told me ‘Trust your journey.’ When you think the path is hard and difficult to get through, trust it. You’ll make it, and be stronger/wiser when you get there! Also, ‘Always choose adventure!’”

Dr. Gary Armstrong, associate dean of the Core Curriculum and political science professor: 

“Always remember: A ship is safest in harbor, but that’s not the purpose of a ship.”

Dr. Jane Woodruff, classics professor: 

“Follow your heart!”

Dr. Christopher Wilkins, history professor: 

“Write concisely.”


And lastly, Brad and Samantha Anderson, resident director of Ely Hall:

“Stay out of/get out of debt as quick as you can. . .even if you have to live in a college dorm for 8 years.”

Brianna Steiert

Brianna Steiert is a senior Oxbridge Molecular Biology major and mathematics minor. She serves as Features and Managing editors for the Hilltop Monitor.

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