With Pomp and Circumstance the faculty led graduates, attired in black gown and mortar board, into the auditorium.
Baker began his welcome with a brief statement, "Congratulations, go out and get a job, remember the alumni fund, remember York College in your will and thank you for going to school here." Chuckles could be heard from the audience as Baker informed graduates if they thought those were the sum total of his remarks, he was sorry, it wasn't so.
"You know you didn't get here by yourself," Baker admonished, reminding graduates of the prayers and sacrifices of parents as they waited for this moment.
"You did not get here by yourself, but they couldn't do it for you," Baker told the class of 2006. With many papers and tests in your past, "you did it, and you did it well, congratulations."
Starr is a native of Texas who has served the United States of America in varied capacities during his career in jurisprudence. He received his undergraduate degree from George Washington University, a master's from Brown University and his law degree from Duke University Law College.
"It is a privilege to be here today. I join in congratulating you," said Starr as he recalled comments made by host of NBC's "Meet the Press," Tim Russert who once told a group of graduates he too had sat through many a commencement address in his life, and couldn't remember a single word from any of them. At which time Starr promised to keep his portion of the program to a lean 15 minutes.
"I predict you will look back not so much on this day but on these years," Starr told the graduating class.
Traditionally, a commencement speaker is called upon to offer friendly advice, with the expectation graduates would reflect on it. The advice offered up by Starr would be drawn from three stories. First, from the life of a young man of Godly parents who grew up on a farm in Kansas. A young man of good work ethic who went into Kansas City, started a business and prospered. After a time, this young man moved across this land to California, where in 1937, George Pepperdine started a small Christian college in the state.
Pepperdine gave, and you can give too, through lives of purpose.
"It is more blessed to give. Everything you give away you have," quoted Starr, "and everything you hold on to will evaporate."
Starr charged his young audience to consider adopting a nation, offering as an example the story of a lawyer who found himself profoundly moved by the collapse of the Berlin Wall. This attorney felt a call to go help, and has since developed a relationship with the deeply impoverished nation of Albania, making trips there twice a year to help build and encourage the struggling country.
"That's his vacation, helping spread religious liberty," says Starr as he again asked his audience to "find a place you care for and pray about it." Become a peace maker and source of reconciliation in our suffering and hurting world. No travel would be required. "Be a binder of wounds," as Abraham Lincoln said shortly after his inaugural.
In his closing admonition, Starr asked that graduates, "Be bold regarding the greatness to which you are capable," as he recalled a story told by Bishop Desmond Tutu of an odd looking chicken -- who behaved like a chicken.
One day the owner of the chicken had a visitor who remarked, "Hey, that's no chicken, that's an eagle."
"No," said the farmer, "that's a chicken. It behaves like a chicken."
But the knowledgeable man took the strange looking chicken and climbed a hill. The bird shook itself, unveiled it's feathers, lifted off and flew away.
Laura Armbrust, senior English major from Waukesha, Wisconsin, was awarded the Dean's Award during the ceremony. The Dale R. Larsen Teacher of Achievement Award was presented to John I Baker III, Associate Professor of Communication and Chair of the Division of Humanities.
The following students were awarded Associate Degrees: Benji Asperheim, Logan Bahler, Meghan Boyle, Annalisa Briggs, Bevin Carroll, Holly Curtis, Richard Edwards III, Titus Ellis, Phoebe Elrod, Tabitha Elzey, James Foreman, Rebecca French, Crystal Heatwole, Micah Heatwole, Heather Jurgenson, Jacintta Kemp, Katrisha Lee, Kelli McDaniel, Ian Pierce, Lisa Purdy, Kristin Poppe, Linda Shortt, Shannon Sukraw, and Amanda Wharton.