Humanitarian physician Jill Seaman presented the commencement address, followed by departmental receptions in the Oak Grove. The baccalaureate ceremony took place Saturday, May 29, on the McMinnville Campus.
Graduates came from 21 states and eight countries, including Nepal, Turkey and Mongolia. Sixty-six percent are female and 34 percent are male. The most popular majors were business, education, exercise science and nursing.
Commencement speaker Dr. Jill Seaman was featured as one of Time Magazine’s 1997 Heroes of Medicine for her single-minded efforts to prevent an epidemic of kala-azar in Sudan, Africa. The deadly disease, which often results in a painful death, was decimating villages prior to her arrival, with one village experiencing a drop from 1,000 inhabitants to four. Seaman became the driving force behind a Doctors Without Borders intervention and prevented the epidemic from turning into a modern-day version of the Black Death. Along the way, Seaman developed new procedures for treating the disease and emerged as one of the world’s leading experts.
Working conditions in Sudan, one of the most remote, impoverished and war-torn areas of the globe, are harsh. It was there that Seaman treated thousands of kala-azar patients, perhaps more than any other single doctor in history. Her clinic was well known, with people traveling many miles in hopes of obtaining help. She refused to charge for medical care or medicines, and even donated her own blood in an effort to keep dying children alive.
Seaman established her own medical organization and continues to work in Sudan for part of each year, spending the remainder in Alaska providing health services to Yup’ik Eskimo communities. In 2009, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, with a $500,000 stipend to continue her work for the benefit of human society.
The Reverend Stephan Ross offered the baccalaureate speech, titled “Life Interrupted.” He has served as pastor of the McMinnville United Methodist Church since 1998 and is currently co-pastor of the McMinnville Cooperative Ministries. He previously served congregations in Silverton, Marquam, Alsea and Philomath, Ore., and in Burley, Idaho. Ross has been active in the McMinnville Downtown Association, Lions Club, Area Habitat for Humanity and the Citizens Committee. He completed his master of divinity degree at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif.
Linfield students will take many memories with them.
Andrew Webber will miss the rambling midnight walks with friends, talking about spiritual traditions, grad school, girls and the general perplexities of life. “We never came up with any awesome answers,” he said, “but we asked some good questions.”
Marci Klimek remembers flying across the finish line as the first Linfield woman to win the Northwest Conference Cross Country Championship. It was the moving realization of a long sought goal, she said, and an emotional moment for her and track Coach Garry Killgore.
Duncan Reid, who is planning on journeying through India and Africa before graduate school, said he will miss living in a community of peers who are all studying different subjects.
Hannah Michelotti, who hopes to go to graduate school, will miss the library. “I feel welcome when I walk in, and it’s one of the most beautiful buildings on campus because of the soft colors and natural light. It houses all the books on campus — and I love books.”
Katrina Peavey will also miss the library, because of “the comfort associated with being surrounded by hundreds of books whose pages carry thoughts that shaped the world.”
Tal Edman, headed for a Big 4 accounting firm in Portland, will miss the rooftops of his fraternity house and the local McMenamins restaurant. “I love being able to sit up there and see the whole valley lit up,” he said. “There isn’t much light pollution so on clear nights the stars and moon are phenomenal.”
Katie Cowgill will take away memories of her study abroad experience in Ireland. Her international friendships gave her a wider view and she “found a home in a different country.”
Nadia Abraibesh, who is heading to Libya to study Arabic — her father’s language — will miss her professors, walks to the coffee shops in the Third Street historic district, and the ease of dropping by friends’ apartments. “When I come back to campus after I’ve been away for several years, it will all be different,” she said.