Rachel Hastings, Contributing Writer
On May 18, another talented group of young men and women will cross the stage in front of the University of Dallas Tower, briefly glance over the beaming faces assembled on the Mall and bid farewell to their years as undergraduate students at UD.
The change feels bittersweet as the class of 2014 prepares for its last week of classes before the turning of the tassels.
The close-knit graduating seniors face a difficult transition in the upcoming separation from their fellow UD students. Senior English major Charmi Vince believes the class of 2014 to be a special class.
“The class of 2014 is fun, really bright, and community-oriented. I think, though, the main characteristic of my class is joy — we really have an amazing group of people that are always there for you with a smile on their faces whether it comes to studying for a test, planning a birthday party, or playing soccer,” she said.
Vallery Bergez, a senior English and French double major, also noted her class’s strong sense of unity.
“Our class is very committed to cultivating friendships,” said Bergez. “That manifests itself in our desire to simply be present with one another, regardless of who we’re with, what we’re doing, or where we are.”
In addition to their strong bonds of friendship, the class of 2014 will also be remembered for its exceptionally fun-loving and intelligent Rome classes: the “Kinetic Class” and the “Class of All Seasons.”
“Dr. Hatlie called the Fall Rome class of 2011 the ‘Kinetic Class’ because we were always moving, even if what we were doing didn’t make any sense to him,” said Vince.
Senior Ivanna Bond recalled the name Dr. Hatlie bestowed on the spring class. “Dr. Hatlie called us the ‘Class of All Seasons’ in reference to the passage from Ecclesiastes, suggesting that our class made the most out of every up and down and unpredictable event that we encountered.”
Dr. Andrew Osborn, professor of English on the UD Rome Campus, shared several fond memories of the class of 2014 Romers.
“The spring ’12 Romers were on average better paper writers, thespians, Ultimate players, and snowball fighters,” said Osborn. “ [But] none of my other five Rome classes has taken to the soccer field with the same joyous ardor as the students of fall ’11. They’d defy the sun to halt their play after dinner.”
He recalled several other special experiences, including the pre-dawn hike in Olympia with a group of young men, the memorable performance of Caeli Austin as Agave in Euripides’ “Bacchae” and going to the disco at Delphi.
Yet, while he freely praised both classes’ fun-loving spirit, Osborn was especially impressed with their care for others and the very personal connections they formed with each other and with the faculty.
“What I appreciate most about the Romers of the class of 2014 was how generous they were in affectionately engaging my daughters, Riley and Zoe, who are now fluently Italian-speaking, independent spirits, but who then, at ages 11 and eight respectively, were emotionally vulnerable. The students to whom I am most deeply grateful should know who they are without my naming them. My daughters and I hope that they will keep in touch.”
Senior English major Evan Hierholzer has been elected by his classmates to give the valedictory address at the commencement ceremony. He reminisced on his undergraduate experiences:
“In my conversations with others, many of whom do not share my opinions or beliefs, I have learned to think more critically, to practice more self-criticism and to enjoy the surprising diversity of perspective which inheres in even the relatively homogeneous UD student populace.”
The valedictorian and his classmates look forward to making use of their education, both in graduate school and in the workforce. Hierholzer will be attending Princeton Theological Seminary in the fall and participating in its three-year Master of Divinity program.
“After that,” he said, “I intend to pursue doctoral work in theology or religious studies.”
The graduation ceremonies will officially begin at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, with Senior Convocation in Lynch Auditorium.
The Baccalaureate Mass will take place at 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 17, in the Maher Athletic Center and will be followed by the President’s Reception honoring seniors at 7:30 p.m. in Haggar University Center, an event held to honor both faculty and graduating student for their outstanding academic work. Tickets are available for purchase on the University of Dallas website for $30 and can also be purchased at the door for $40.
Commencement will begin at 9 a.m. Sunday, May 18, on the Mall in front of the UD Tower. George Weigel, distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and well-known author of “Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II,” will deliver the commencement address.
Father Thomas Esposito, O. Cist., will give the ceremony’s invocation, Father Robert Maguire, O. Cist., has been chosen as the faculty speaker, and Dr. Susan Hanssen will be the benediction speaker.