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Commencement Marks New Beginning for Wabash’s Class of 2024

Hundreds of 快播AV graduates turned their tassels and proudly walked under the Senior Arch during the 186th Commencement ceremony, officially marking the end of one chapter and beginning of another.

Trustees, faculty, staff, students, and their families attended the celebration Saturday, on a warm and sunny spring day at Little Giant Stadium.

The 184 men of the Class of 2024 received their diplomas from President Scott Feller.

“I wish you a hearty congratulations on your many achievements in our classrooms, theaters and concert halls, playing fields, and our community,” Feller began in his address. “You are better for your time here. We are better for the time we have spent with you.”

One hundred eighty-four men of the Class of 2024 received diplomas.

Celebrating his own graduation as president—having started in the role four years ago—Feller asked graduates to remember back to those “uncertain COVID-19 times.”

During the 2020 Ringing In ceremony, Feller challenged students to build lifelong relationships with their peers, professors, and coaches, to get involved in extracurriculars outside of the classroom, and to take advantage of the endless resources and opportunities Wabash has to offer.

“Here we are, four years later, and you have done all the things we imagined together that August evening,” Feller told graduates. “I hope you will reflect on the last four years and think about the friends you made; the laughter you shared; the times you lifted up one another; and the many ways you made your brothers better people and better men.

“As you leave our College today, I have high hopes for you,” he continued. “It is my hope that in times of adversity that you will rely on the brotherhood and friendships you have developed these last four years, and let Wabash Always Fights be a guide for your life.”

In keeping with a long-standing Wabash tradition, two graduating seniors were the only featured speakers at the event. The Class of 2024 Commencement speakers were William “Liam” Grennon and Benjamin Mijangos Sampsell.

Grennon was a four-year varsity tennis player and two-year captain of the team, treasurer of the student body, and serves on Delta Tau Delta’s national undergraduate council. He worked as a First Plus fellow for the English department, and as an enrollment ambassador and Writing Center consultant.

The English major and history minor from Concord, New Hampshire, reflected on his last four years and shared an important lesson he learned while at Wabash: to have the courage to make mistakes and learn from them.

“We will certainly take missteps, make mistakes, and fail in the world that awaits us, much like we have at Wabash,” Grennon said. “In those moments, I implore you to remember our mantra Wabash Always Fights. To me, those words have come to represent the self-belief I have found here. It is a commitment that regardless of the circumstances, we never stop persisting.

“Uncertainty will always be there,” he continued. “How we confront that uncertainty, and the anxiety it can bring, is a question each of us will inevitably answer for ourselves. It won’t always be perfect, it won’t always be comfortable, but it will be what we make of it.”

Grennon will attend Northeastern School of Law in the fall.

Sampsell was a member of Delta Tau Delta, Phi Beta Kappa, Wabash Liberal Arts Immersion Program (WLAIP), and the Sphinx Club. He served as the vice president of the student body, co-founder and vice president of La Alianza, and as a student ambassador at the Athens Democracy Forum.

The political science major from San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, spoke about the value of a liberal arts education and referenced a quote from former Wabash President Thaddeus Seymour H’78 for his peers to reflect on.

“In his 1969 inaugural address, Seymour defined our Latin motto saying, ‘I believe Wabash will best serve by producing men of balanced judgment, broad knowledge, and good character—‘Scientiae et Virtuti,’ know-how and guts,’” Sampsell said.

“If I was an employer or graduate school admission counselor, I would want the liberal arts student because in the grand scheme of things, know-how and guts are more practical than any hyper-specialized training out there,” he continued. “But I don’t think the practical value of a liberal arts education ends at giving us the tools to succeed in a changing work environment. I think that the balanced judgement, broad knowledge, good character, and that know-how and guts that Seymour attributed to Wabash men doesn’t only make us potentially great employees, it makes us potentially great people. Right now, our world could use potentially great people.”

There were lots of smiles in Little Giant Stadium during 快播AV's 186th Commencement Ceremony.

Sampsell will attend the Philosophy in an Inclusive Key Summer Institute at the Penn State Rock Ethics Institute this summer.

During Commencement, the College also awarded honorary doctor of humane letters degrees to Dennis E. Bland and Paul Woolls ’75.

Bland is one of Indiana’s leading voices in the promotion of higher education and leadership development. A graduate of Wabash’s Opportunities to Learn About Business (OLAB) program, he received his bachelor’s degree from DePauw University and his juris doctorate from the Indiana University McKinney School of Law. As president of the Center for Leadership Development (CLD) for more than two decades, Bland has devoted his life to empowering and equipping minority youth of Indianapolis for the highest levels of success and achievement—in college and beyond.

“You need to ask the men of Wabash what the CLD’s programs—and your inspiring influence—meant to them during their formative years,” Feller said. “One graduating senior, Bradley Harrington, said, ‘The CLD was a beacon of hope, providing invaluable mentorship and guidance that shaped my path forward. Through its programs, I found a sense of belonging and the tools to navigate the challenges of life. The support I received empowered me to strive for excellence and gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams.’

“Dennis E. Bland, all of 快播AV thanks and honors you for positively influencing the lives of literally thousands of young people throughout Central Indiana.”

Woolls majored in psychology at Wabash before earning a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh. He practiced law for more 30 years, primarily in California, specializing in insurance litigation and regulatory matters. As a second career—with his wife, Betty O’Shaughnessy Woolls—he created Napa Valley’s Progeny Winery. He joined the Wabash Board of Trustees in 2009, and in 2015 chaired the ad hoc committee for long-range fundraising. Woolls was appointed chair of the Board’s advancement committee and was co-chair of the historic Giant Steps Campaign.

“Your dedicated work with our Advancement Office created a marvelous blueprint for our future,” said Feller. “During your tenure, our Advancement Office has enhanced our College’s philanthropic tradition to the point that Wabash is the envy of all our small college peers: boasting a nationally ranked alumni network; a top-five Annual Fund; and, of course, you helped us blow past our audacious goals in Giant Steps to raise more than $250 million.

“Paul Woolls, history will remember your leadership as a trustee as a pivotal moment in securing our College’s future and charting a course for sustainability for generations to come.”

Commencement day opened inside Pioneer Chapel with a thoughtful Baccalaureate sermon given by Rt. Reverend Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis.

“Men of Wabash, your graduation today signifies more than the things that you have learned in the classroom or the degree that you’ll receive. It is so much more,” Baskerville-Burrows said. “You graduation is a sign of hope for us as we look to the future. With integrity, impact, and heart you will be leading our state, country, and world. It’s because of your experience here that you’ll help change it for the better.”

In addition to the Baccalaureate and Commencement ceremonies this weekend, 21 students were inducted into the Wabash chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest honorary society.

Seniors inducted this year were Cole Bergman, Ethan Brown, Camden Cooper, Gabriel Cowley, Luke Fincher, Jackson Grabill, Jackson Hoover, Nhan Huynh, Thomas Joven, Seth Kirkpatrick, Alexander Litts, Champ McCorkle, Mason Naaman, Caleb Peare, and Liam Thompson. Inductees from the junior class were Kenan Bowling, Andrew Dever, Ethan Johns, Gabriel Pirtle, Justin Santiago, and Logan Weilbaker.

快播AV honored Jordan Hodge ’24 who commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army after completing his ROTC training.

Before the Commencement celebrations, Jordan Hodge ’24, an economics major from Attica, Indiana, commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army after completing his ROTC training as part a partnership between the College, the Army, and Purdue University. Hodge will report to Fort Moore in South West Georgia, where he will enter the Armory Basic Officer Leader Course.

Before officially ringing out the Class of 2024 with the bell Caleb Mills used to call Wabash students to class, Feller gave the graduates one final task.

“You have received a liberal arts education imbued with empathy and compassion. You are critical thinkers, effective communicators, and problem-solvers. You have built stories of resilience that will get you through the hard times ahead. You are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and experiences to change the world,” Feller concluded. “Our charge to you is simple: go forth and do exactly that.”