December 2013 Commencement
Misericordia University’s 3rd annual Winter Commencement keynote speaker urged the 319 graduates and first graduates from the entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy program on Saturday, Dec. 14 to be “attentive’’ to the world around them as they embark on their careers or enter graduate school.
With an advanced degree comes an enormous responsibility to society, according to Timothy Seibles, M.F.A., an American poet, and English and creative writing professor at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Va. The attentiveness college graduates gain with their well-rounded educations enables them to process information and certain scenarios to determine what warrants their attention.
He also stressed the importance of language as a primary vehicle in developing awareness and what it can mean in terms of human potential and the re-shaping of consciousness in preparation for the future.
During the commencement ceremony, Misericordia University presented Seibles with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and remained in Dallas to teach high school English for 10 years. In 1990, he received his Master of Fine Arts degree from Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier, Vt.
Victoria Mihal of Wyoming, Pa., represented her classmates on stage for the winter commencement program. As the student speaker, she talked about how the characteristics of a Misericordia education – the challenging academics, personal attention, and providing service to others in need – separated it from other colleges and universities.
“This small community has opened its arms and accepted every unique individual sitting before me now,’’ said Mihal, who received her undergraduate degree in health care management and will begin the graduate phase of her education in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program in the spring semester. “Mercy, Service, Justice and Hospitality – the four principles set by this University’s founders – have been embodied by the welcoming faces we saw on our first day here as freshmen. These same principles have helped us find our purposes in life and opened up doors for newfound interests.
“My passion in life is what really brought me here today,’’ adds Mihal, who is scheduled to receive her doctorate degree in December 2016. “As a physical therapy major, I have always had an interest in how the body works and how individuals can overcome physical limitations if they are just given a chance to believe that they can. I like to be that supporting arm and I find satisfaction in helping others to be the best they can be. Going off to graduate school is both exciting and nerve-racking. Going off into real life and starting anew is a whole new challenge that I have yet to face and that now many of you have to take on. I have heard that the trouble with life is that there is no danger music.’’
Seibles is the author of several collections of poetry, including “Hurdy-Gurdy,’’ “Hammerlock,” and “Buffalo Head Solos.’’ His most recent book, “Fast Animal” (Etruscan Press, 2012) was listed among the five poetry finalists for the 2012 National Book Award. He has been an associate professor of English and creative writing at Old Dominion for the past 17 years. Mr. Seibles is also a visiting faculty member for the Stonecoast Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program sponsored by the University of Southern Maine.
“Professor Seibles has spent the majority of his professional life sharing the talent he has refined through many years of writing and reflection,’’ said President Thomas J. Botzman, Ph.D. “Through the years, his students have been enlightened by the experiences they have shared with him and the world has been enriched by him imparting his knowledge and considerable talents.’’
He returned to campus after being the keynote speaker at the 22nd Annual Diversity Institute Dinner in February 2013 in which he shared excerpts of his most recent collection of poems, “Fast Animal,’’ during a reading.
A National Endowment for the Arts fellow, he has also been a writing fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. His poetry is featured in several anthologies, among them are: “Rainbow Darkness,’’ “The Manthology,’’ “Autumn House Contemporary American Poetry,’’ “Black Nature,’’ “Evensong,’’ “Villanelles,” and “Sunken Garden Poetry.’’ His poem, “Allison Wolff,’’ was included in Best American Poetry 2010.
“Misericordia has taught us to be leaders by revealing to us our true potential and what we can actually do for the world around us,’’ Mihal added. “I’m sure many of you have come across faculty and staff that have impacted your lives here at Misericordia. Their superior knowledge and experience in life have helped guide us in our career choices and to succeed in the world beyond the classroom.