November 24, 2014

Elyria
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750 Oberlin students soaked, but graduated

OBERLIN — The dreary weather didn’t dampen the spirits of the 750 graduating students from Oberlin College on Monday.

In front of a large crowd, many of whom were wearing coats, hats and sweaters, graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences and Conservatory of Music received their degrees during commencement exercises on Tappan Square.

Of the graduates, 67 are from Ohio, including 16 from Lorain County.

Diane C. Yu, a 1973 graduate of Oberlin College and vice chair of the board of trustees, stood at the podium and told the audience, “I have a secret thought … Congratulations! You made it!”

Yu spoke of how the class of 2013 made “notable history” in dealing with struggle, innovation and success.

“Class of 2013, come back and visit, and help the next generation like the alumni have helped you,” Yu said.

Carrying on her enthusiasm was 2013 class president A.D. Hogan.

Hogan told fellow classmates to celebrate their accomplishments at Oberlin College.

“Thank you to our faculty for making us think harder,” Hogan said.

Hogan said members of the class of 2013 have performed music heard around the world; published poems; lobbied for health care; and in essence, have “paid it forward.”

“Our work as ‘Obies’ has just begun. As we leave the cloistered life of Oberlin College, the class of 2013, together we can and we will change the world,” Hogan said.

Commencement speaker Tracy Chevalier, a 1984 graduate of Oberlin College and author of the bestselling book “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and the newly released “The Last Runaway,” shared with the audience a personal story of the day she graduated from college.

At the end of her commencement, after she said her goodbyes to her friends, she walked back to the house she called “home” for four years on South Park Street. She shared this home with four other girls, yet on graduation day, she walked alone on East Vine Street — the street leading to South Park Street. As it turned out, each of the girls walked “home” alone that day.

“One of the parents said it was the most pathetic thing she’d ever seen, us each walking down East Vine alone,” Chevalier said.

On Monday, Chevalier offered herself to be each of the graduates “walking companion” down their own “East Vine Street.”

“Oberlin is a remarkable place to get an education. It is now, it was when I went here and it was even from its founding in 1833. Oberlin has always been synonymous with radical thinking, with a concern for equality and with a tolerance for difference,” she said.

Chevalier implored the class of 2013 to not underestimate their time at Oberlin College.

“The experiences you’ve had and the interests you’ve developed may well turn up years from now in the oddest ways,” she said.

Chevalier ended by telling the “Obies” to take the walk the rest of the way down “East Vine Street.”

“Now it’s time for you to go on yourself. I have faith in you to walk well. So does the class of 1984. So do your families, and your teachers and your friends,” she said.

Contact Melissa Linebrink at 329-7155 or mlinebrink@chroniclet.com.