Krista Shaw, Contributing Writer
After the senior class has lived the past months according to the informally adopted motto, “YOHOS” (you only have one semester), physics department chair and faculty member elected to give the invocation prayer, Dr. Richard Olenick, thinks it fitting to remind them that as graduation draws closer, “YOHOW” (you only have one week) is becoming more appropriate.
With convocation taking place on Thursday and commencement on the Sunday of the following week, the graduating seniors of 2013 have little more than a week before they shift their tassels and join the ranks of the University of Dallas alumni.
In characterizing the class of 2013 as “thoroughgoing degenerates who only because they have been forced to study Homer, Virgil, Dante, Milton, Aeschylus, Shakespeare, Austen and Dostoyevsky have any chance of avoiding prison,” Dr. Andrew Moran, English professor and the professor elected to deliver the 2013 convocation address, showed his humor.
“I probably should also add that it’s a class with some of the best and wittiest writers I’ve seen at UD, and many whose enthusiasm for literature and the life of the mind made teaching an absolute delight,” Moran said. “This class’s hospitality is also something I’ll remember; it’s been a privilege to have been treated so graciously by so many good souls.”
“I’m honored that a class full of people whom I think so well of, whose company I have enjoyed in and out of class, has asked me to speak. Convocation is the highlight of the academic year. Graduation is for the families; it’s at convocation that students and faculty truly have the opportunity to celebrate the four years. I’m pleased to be given a role in that.”
Fr. Robert Maguire, O. Cist., an English professor who will give the benediction at the convocation ceremony, remembered fondly his time teaching the class of 2013.
“They are not the Wild Bunch; they are the Joyful Bunch. They responded well to my questions and wrote good essays. What they had to say taught me a great deal, and that has been a quiet but deeply felt joy for me as a teacher—even when they were writing about Dracula!” Maguire remarked.
Senior Deandra Lieberman, the class-elected valedictorian speaker, reminisced on her specific UD experiences.
“My UD journey has been honey-sweet. I entered the Catholic Church during my freshman year, from which flowed the greatest joy in my life,” Lieberman said. “Beyond that, things have been pleasantly blurred. The Roman spring I shared with my classmates is golden in my memories. Junior Poet was a stressful blast. All I really desired from college was to immerse myself in literature and become a better human; in a hard-to-quantify way, I feel like I’ve had chances to do both, and that I didn’t entirely squander them, thanks be to God.”
After she graduates with a major in English and a concentration in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Lieberman plans to participate in Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education Service through Teaching program. She will be teaching English in California during the school years and taking courses towards her Master of Education during the summers.
Moran expects other members of the class of 2013 to follow many and varied paths to success.
“I look forward to seeing in a few years Danny Fitzpatrick as George in the revival of ‘Beatlemania!’” Moran said. “Aside from that I’m guessing that this class will make its way just as previous classes have. Some will immediately jump into their work in the world. Many others, including a number of the more thoughtful ones, will need a few years to explore and discern what work it is that they should do in the world. All of them will grumble at first about being paid less than people who cannot explain the Allegory of the Cave. While some will thrive right away, the vast majority of them will thrive starting in their late 20s. UD graduates end up doing very well for themselves.”
Maguire, likewise, is eager to remind the class of 2013 to properly appreciate and utilize the education that they have received as they enter the world.
“Some things can be taught. Other things must be learned. The graduates shall have to recall both the principles of truth and the images of greatness that their books have taught them; then their imaginations shall have to discover those truths and images hidden in the world’s ever changing and radically new circumstances,” Maguire said. “Initially, graduates are at a loss because they have been living in the Socratic conversation. But if they maintain simplicity and honesty, renounce fear and think before they speak, trusting God to care for the outcome, they will grow in goodness and not allow the world to destroy what the Great Books have taught them, nor cease to live in the university’s heart and participate in its conversation.
“Therefore, whoever gives the benediction calls upon God to make the wisdom of their studies continually effective in their daily lives, that what has been planted may bear fruit at the proper time.”
Olenick noted the diversity of the class, specifically referring to the physics majors, of whom one is going to graduate school for geophysics, another is going to medical school and others will be starting jobs.
“This class is cohesive, but it is not homogenous; they have a variety of goals; they are independent,” Olenick said. “I would expect to see several entrepreneurs. There’s some creativity there, and they work hard too.”
Again recognizing the individuality of the class of 2013, Lieberman said, “It’s hard to characterize my class in a simple way. This will sound pretentious, but it’s just because I wrote a paper on Dostoevsky yesterday—my class is a polyphony of disparate personalities. There are opinionated debaters, shoeless fall Romers and several really excellent cooks, with a number of people who refuse to fit cleanly into any of those categories.”
As valedictorian, Lieberman is excited to be speaking at commencement.
“I love and admire my classmates, so I’m honored that any of them thought I’d be a decent representative,” Lieberman said.
Louis Hannegan contributed reporting to this article.