Class of 2024 demonstrates ‘grit’ on the way to degrees

Grove City College conferred 504 bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the arts and sciences at Saturday’s 144th Commencement.

Among those crossing the stage on the campus’ main Quad were the College’s first class of Bachelor of Science in Nursing students and the first cohort of MBA candidates. Nearly half – 47 percent of the Class of 2024 graduated with cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude academic honors.

“The Lord is so good. He has blessed us greatly today,” College President Paul J. McNulty ’80 told graduates and others assembled on a beautiful morning in western Pennsylvania.

“Much of your time here at Grove City has been far from easy, but your perseverance has been wonderful. You have succeeded beautifully. Your graduation from this institution is one of the most significant achievements of your life,” McNulty said. “You understand the one true foundation of your success and happiness: Knowing the Lord. So, guard the good deposit that has been entrusted to you.”

For many in this year’s graduating class, this was the first commencement they experienced. The Class of 2024 left high school and endured a freshman year under the cloud of the Covid 19 pandemic.

“It was a difficult way to start college but, by God’s divine providence, we are here today,” Edward D. Breen ’78, chair of the College’s Board of Trustees, said. That experience enhanced the graduates’ determination. “Grovers have grit. We march to a different beat … We pursue excellence for the good of others.”

Alumnus J. Nicholas Ranjan ’00, federal district court judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania, delivered the Commencement address. He began by saying he had three questions for members of the Class of 2024 to ask themselves: What just happened?; What am I going to do next?; and What’s going to happen to me?

“I can’t speak for other colleges, but I can speak for this one. You may forget much of what you learned in Philosophy 101, or Intro to Accounting. I know I did! But that’s not the point,” he said. “I hope when you think back and ask, ‘what just happened?’ or ‘what did I get out of this?’ you will realize that you learned how to grow spiritually – to know God and make him known; you learned how to work hard in the face of adversity and develop grit and tenacity, characteristics that many other young people today lack; you learned how to succeed, with grace, and, how to fail but survive; you learned how to engage with your professors and each other on deep substantive issues that mattered; and you developed friendships and bonds that are irreplaceable and that you will actively maintain for the rest of your lives.”

As to what the graduates are going to do next, Ranjan suggested they pursue justice, but not in the sense of his profession. “That means treat people fairly and equally, no matter who they are, how high or low their status, and how similar or different they are to you. But justice also means righteousness— to do the right thing. To pursue truth. The world needs all of you to stand up for the truth. Not ‘your truth,’ not ‘my truth,’ but ‘the truth.’”

He concluded: “You all have a calling and a destiny, and it is waiting for you. But you are not there yet. You are not your true selves yet. As you take that journey to become yourself, remember that your calling is not tied to your accomplishments or your mistakes. It is tied to your faith. … With God’s help, go, now, and start the journey to become yourselves; become the persons that God specifically created you all to be.”

Megan Gagnier ’24, a secondary Spanish education major with a musical theatre minor of Pompey, N.Y., spoke to her fellow graduates about the familiar routines, deep community, and the transformational power of “a curious” place called Grove City College. “A place with not only an education, but a higher purpose,” she said.

“Through our classes, our professors pushed us to grow in knowledge of our content. But, aware that knowledge without wisdom is dangerous, they framed that knowledge with Christ-like wisdom,” Gagnier said. “Grove City grounded all our activities in Christ. This is the ‘why’ behind it all.”

“As we look towards the future, we have confidence that Grove City prepared us not just with what to do, but also how to do it. We are not just to be engineers; we are to be godly engineers. We are not just to be teachers; we are to be faithful teachers. We are not just to be nurses; we are to be servant-hearted nurses. We are not just to be film makers; we are to be humble film makers. We are not just to be lawyers; we are to be wise lawyers. We are not just called to be servants; we are to be Christ-like servants,” Gagnier said.

The College awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree to Ranjan and an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree to Baccalaureate speaker Dr. Kurt Bjorklund, senior pastor of Orchard Hill Church in Wexford, Pa., in recognition of their outstanding achievements in their respective fields.

Class of 2024 demonstrates ‘grit’ on the way to degrees

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