Tag: commencement

For this Throw Back Thursday, we’re not turning the clock back very far. It was only about six weeks ago when words of wisdom rang across Brookings Quad at Commencement 2017. A recent article with excerpts from several campus speeches inspired me to go back to the transcript of Anna Quindlen’s impassioned oratory at WashU on May 19. She urged – dared is more accurate – graduates to throw out their best laid plans.

“Jane Austen threw out the plan for a well‑read regency‑era woman. Frank Lloyd Wright threw out the plan for a young architect of his time. Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Enrico Fermi, Lin‑Manuel Miranda, Martin Luther King, Marie Curie, Pablo Picasso, Toni Morrison, they all threw out the plan. The right answer was safe; the wrong answer, the one no one else came up with or followed or believed in, was transformational.”

Quindlen, best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist has taken many daring leaps in her career and life and advised her audience to avoid the road well-traveled, “Caution is nothing but fear dressed up as common sense. Coloring books have come back into vogue for adults because there’s nothing quite so soothing as coloring inside the lines.” Dare to color outside the lines, she urged:

“…you can’t let fear rule you. For your own sake and for the sake of this great nation, fear is what has poisoned our culture, our community and our character. The very worst things in this country are done out of fear. Homophobia, sexism, racism, religious bigotry, xenophobia, the embrace of demagogues, they all arise out of fear of that which is unknown or different.

“Our political leaders don’t actually lead when they are afraid of being thrown out of office. Our corporations resist real innovation because they’re afraid of taking a chance.”

Resist fear, be daring, and be kind while you are pursuing a plan of your choosing. Read the whole speech and other Commencement speeches from the past with the links below.

Link to related news release on Quindlen’s speech.

Link to related article on past graduation speeches at WashU.

Reid Petty has been President of the Class of 2017 since sophomore year and before he graduates, he will address his classmates, and thousands of guests and graduate students in Brookings Quad at Commencement. The Source talked to Reid who is an Olin marketing major about what he plans to say and his post-graduation plans in the advertising industry.

Why did you decide on a career in advertising?

Growing up, I was always plopped in front of the TV with my family. That’s how we bonded — watching “The Office,” “Lost” and probably some questionable stuff like “The Sopranos.” I loved the shows, but I also loved the ads. I would challenge myself to come up with a better ad than the one I saw on TV.  It clicked that this is what I should do with my life. Last summer, I worked at Team One, an advertising firm in Los Angeles, where I wrote copy that will appear in an upcoming Lexus ad. And after graduation, I will be working in the Chicago office of DigitasLBI in a dual project management and account management role. I also studied film at WashU and I am hoping, at some point, to merge these two loves by going into advertising for film.

You spent a summer in Copenhagen and a semester in Singapore. How did your study-abroad experiences impact your education?

Those experiences are some of the best things that ever happened to me. In Copenhagen, I took a class on the Roskilde Festival, the world’s largest nonprofit music festival. We learned about festival management and festival culture. It concluded with us spending a week at the festival where we were just immersed in Danish culture. The week shaped my understanding of what it means to travel, to get outside of your comfort zone and discover new people and places. I then chose to go to Singapore because I wanted a totally different experience, and I loved it. Being abroad is challenging, fun, sometimes lonely and always exciting.

So what words of wisdom will you be sharing with graduates?

I’m 22 years old. I don’t have that much wisdom to offer to my peers. But I have thought a lot about why this place is so special. And it comes down to the people. And sure, you could say that about a lot of universities. But I found this school very different than the other ones I visited. As a tour guide, I would talk about the campus culture here — that Washington University is super-collaborative and very friendly. And I think that imparting those words on visiting students gives them the idea that this is a very welcoming place. And they make it so. Their expectations shape reality. And so this sense of community is passed down from class to class. For us seniors, it may feel like it’s all ending, but it’s not. This community will stay with us wherever we go in life.

Another graduation season has come and gone, and 232 BSBA students and 418 graduate students have joined Olin’s alumni ranks. Check out the pictures from the May 20th ceremonies (courtesy of the talented Jerry Naunheim), below. Congrats, graduates!

Miss the ceremony? Footage of the entire undergraduate ceremony and graduate ceremony is now live!

Olin’s Undergraduate Diploma & Awards Ceremony:

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Olin’s Graduate Diploma & Awards Ceremony:

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Commencement is a time of long-held traditions: academic gowns, speeches, diplomas, processions, banners…in short, all the expected pomp and circumstance. University Archives however, is happy to recognize some of the less discussed rituals  of commencement at Washington University.

Photo above: undated, from the late 1910s-early 1920s when tents were erected on the Quad.

Thanks to Miranda Rectenwald at WashU Archives for sharing these photos with the Olin Blog!


Comfortable shoes are a must….sandals in 1966


If your shoes are uncomfortable, you may end up barefoot like these women in 1964

Creative cap decorations are nothing new....this photo is from 1983

Creative cap decorations are nothing new….this photo is from 1983

....and in 1987

….and in 1987

Mom snapping the perfect photo, 1955

Mom snapping the perfect photo, 1955



Washington University’s 155th Commencement Ceremony will take place Friday, May 20, 2016, at 8:30 a.m. in Brookings Quadrangle. Celebrations of the Class of 2016 begin early with this all-university ceremony where U.S. Congressman John R. Lewis, considered one of the most courageous and influential leaders in the civil rights movement, will give the 2016 Commencement address.

Congressman John Lewis

Congressman John Lewis

Lewis will be receiving an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

Olin hosts separate diploma and awards ceremonies for undergraduate and graduate students at 11:30 and 3:00 p.m. respectively in the Athletic Complex.


Undergraduate Diploma and Awards Ceremony
11:30 a.m. Field House, Athletics Complex

Scott Helm

Scott Helm

Scott Helm, BSBA’87, is a private investor who lives in Baltimore, Maryland and will deliver the keynote speech at the undergraduate ceremony. He was a founding Partner of Energy Capital Partners, a private equity firm focused on investing in North American energy infrastructure.

Prior to Energy Capital Partners, Helm was Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Orion Power Holdings, Inc., a publicly listed company which owned and operated power plants.

After graduating from Washington University, he joined Goldman, Sachs & Co., first in the Fixed Income Division and later in the Investment Banking Division.


Graduate Diploma and Awards Ceremony
3 p.m. Field House, Athletics Complex


Alaina Macia

Alaina Maciá, President and CEO, MTM, will be the keynote speaker. Maciá has grown MTM to a national leader in medical transportation management since assuming leadership of the St. Louis-based company in 2005. In the past decade, the medical transportation company has grown from 200 employees to over 2,000, and has increased revenue from $50 million to over $450 million

Macia has helped MTM achieve its mission of providing accessible, low-cost transportation for low income, intellectually and developmentally delayed, and elderly populations in order to ensure they can access preventative health care services, employment opportunities, and social activities. Today, she is helping MTM build new healthcare solutions, including ambulance, home healthcare management services and transit call center services.

Macia earned her MBA at Olin in 2002 with an emphasis in corporate strategy and finance. Her undergraduate degree, also from Washington University, is in biological engineering sciences.

University photos and video of Commencement will be posted on Flickr and YouTube. In addition, customizable keepsake books featuring professional photos of the ceremony will be available for order. To order a DVD of the ceremony, please contact the Commencement Office at commencement@wustl.edu.

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