The lieutenant governor of the state of Washington, Bradley Owen, on Sunday, June 9, delivered a message to Walla Walla College’s Class of 2002.
It included hope, poetry, and even a bit of song. “You are setting off,” he said, “on the single greatest adventure—life. How will you take what you have learned and apply it to make the world a better place?”
As keynote Commencement speaker, Owen challenged the graduates to think big and dare to achieve the impossible. He said that when President John F. Kennedy predicted that America would put a man on the moon, people thought he was crazy. “But he dreamed it, we all imagined it, and America did it.”
In one of his illustrations, Owen sang a portion of “The Lamplighter’s Song,” describing the progress of a lamplighter and the trail of light he left behind. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “life’s highest purpose would be to live in such a way to deserve the words, ‘I could tell which way he went by the glow he left behind.’”
The graduating Class was left with four pieces of advice: “Risk more than others think is safe, care more than others think is wise, dream more than others think is practical, and expect more than others think is possible.”
Due to rain, Commencement exercises were relocated from the Centennial Green to the Walla Walla College Church, with standing room only. During the ceremony, WWC President N. Clifford Sorensen presented Owen with the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.
Before becoming involved in state government, Owen established himself as a prominent small business owner in Shelton, Wash. He served as Shelton’s finance commissioner from 1976 to 1982, and in the Washington state senate from 1983 to 1996.
He was elected lieutenant governor in 1996 and re-elected in 2000 and has dedicated his term of service to leadership in public health and safety, emphasizing substance abuse prevention and child welfare.
A second honorary degree was presented to Alcyon (Logan) Fleck, who began her college education by pursuing a degree in English at WWC, but was unable to finish due to financial constraints.
She and her husband, Kenneth, spent much of the next 35 years abroad, dedicating their talents to mission work. Twenty-four years ago, after a devastating earthquake hit Guatemala City, Fleck was asked to help set up an orphanage there. She created loving homes where orphans were treated as members of a family, rather than being placed in dormitories.
Today, her vision has become International Children’s Care, a nonprofit organization that currently has more than 1,200 children living in homes around the globe.
Other recognition came in the form of annual awards given to WWC faculty and staff and two President’s Citation Awards.
The WWC Class of 2002 is composed of 403 members, 261 undergraduates and 142 graduates, from nine different countries and approximately 25 of the U.S. states. More than 35 Class members served as Christian Service Volunteers.
In the audience were members of the WWC Board of Trustees, emeriti faculty, parents and other family members, faculty and staff, Senator Mike Hewitt, and family of the lieutenant governor.
Graduation services began Friday evening with Consecration, presented by members of the Senior Class, and a reception for graduates and their families.
On Sabbath morning, José Rojas, director of Adventist Volunteer Ministries Network for the North American Division, presented the Baccalaureate address, “Success or Prosperity?”
A nurses’ pinning ceremony was held in the afternoon, and a master’s degree hooding ceremony and a traditional Evensong service were held Sabbath evening. •