Provost Elisabeth Mermann-Jozwiak

Class of 2020 Commencement remarks, delivered by Provost Elisabeth Mermann-Jozwiak, May 21, 2022.

Provost Elisabeth Mermann-Jozwiak delivers remarks at the Class of 2020 Commencement, May 21, 2022

Commencement Remarks

Thank you, President Bravman. 

And good morning, everyone! I am thrilled to be able to spend this time with you today. 

On behalf of the college deans and our faculty, congratulations! We have been so anticipating the moment when we could all gather to celebrate with you and your loved ones in person. And all of us at Bucknell are filled with joy and gratitude to share in this special moment with you.

I want to offer a special welcome to the families and friends who have traveled to be with you today. Graduates, for four years, you worked hard to earn your degrees. But your graduation from Bucknell was the culmination of many years of nurturing and guidance from your parents and loved ones. 

They taught you letters, and numbers and colors. They helped you with homework at the kitchen table, encouraged you when you needed support, and beamed with pride at your report cards. (I know your grades were good, because you were accepted to Bucknell.) 

And now, today, they are proud at your achievements at Bucknell, and beyond. 

Members of the Class of 2020, please join me in thanking your guests for their support and encouragement.

As your families know well, your education began when you were born, not when you arrived at Bucknell. And in turn, while earning your Bucknell degree was a huge milestone in your intellectual journey, it is not the conclusion. 

Education is a lifelong endeavor, one that greatly impacts your happiness, and your personal and professional success. 

This is one of the best legacies of your Bucknell experience. So my message to you today is simple: Always keep learning.

As young alumni, you might already be in graduate school, or planning to enroll. Or you might work for an employer that offers professional development opportunities. 

But learning takes place in less formal ways. Maybe you've always wanted to start music lessons, or attend cooking school, or become fluent in Spanish. Believe it or not, I learned how to ski not that long ago — and I'm not that good. But maybe you've deepened your understanding of others through community service. Maybe you’ve been rediscovering the joy of choosing books to read for pleasure. 

Maybe you've met new people, of different ages and backgrounds, and had great conversations about their life experiences, which may be very different from yours.

Bucknellians have a long tradition of seeking out ways to improve themselves, and the lives of others. They've actively engaged with the world around them. I hope you've had the chance to realize that as alumni, you are part of this continuum. 

Your curiosity and your thirst for education first caught the attention of our admissions team. I urge you to keep investing in yourself by continuing to nurture these qualities, no matter where life takes you. Keep asking questions. Keep looking things up. 

I also urge you to seek out opportunities to claim your place in the broader community of learners by seeking opportunities to help others learn. For example, as successful recent graduates, you carry great influence with our current students. Don't underestimate what you have to offer them! You offer real life experience and examples of what they, too, might accomplish with a Bucknell degree — and your age makes you extra relatable.

Finally, you may know me as the provost, but I am also a professor of English, and poetry is one of my lifelong passions. So today I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes, from the poet William Butler Yeats, and he says, "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." And I hope that we lit that fire. 

Here at Bucknell, your spark became a flame. Carry that torch with you, always, and never let it go. 

It is now my pleasure to introduce the president of the Class of 2020, Arianne Evans. 

Class of 2020 Speaker Response

Thanks, Arianne, so much for the work you've done over the past two years and for your inspiring message! 

Now I'm fully aware that we actually conferred your degrees two years ago, but for about 90 seconds I want you to pretend we didn't. And so I'm going to give you, students, your last assignment. The rest of your life depends on getting an A on this assignment. There are representatives in front of you of our faculty, and around you, of our staff, who collectively number some 1,300 individuals who have dedicated their lives mostly to people they will never meet, including you. Would you please rise and show them your appreciation for the work they’ve done on your behalf?

Thank you.

It's now my pleasure to introduce my good friend, Professor Gary Steiner, secretary of the faculty, for the presentation of the graduates.