Grove City College conferred 435 bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the arts and sciences at Saturday’s 143rd Commencement.
Addressing the Class of 2023 in the College Arena, President Paul J. McNulty ’80 said they had all achieved something significant.
“You have earned a bachelor’s degree from one of the most academically challenging colleges in the country,” he said. “More importantly, your education has been grounded in a vision for you as a person made in the image of God and called to love him with your heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.”
“There is no limit to the good you can do, the good you can accomplish, when you know who you are,” he said.
The graduates heard from alumna Karen (Semler ’92) Hanlon, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Highmark Health, who shared lessons about the power of gratitude and positivity. She said those qualities, fostered at Grove City College, had guided her successful career and family life. “I can personally assure you that Grove City has prepared you well,” she said. “The community you created here is special. Take it with you.”
Hanlon received an honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree in recognition of her accomplishments and contributions to her field. Rev. Dr. D. Dean Weaver ’86, stated clerk of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. Weaver, who served as interim chaplain from 2018 to 2020, spoke at this year’s Baccalaureate service.
Meredith Johnson ’23, of Reno, Nev., spoke to her fellow graduates about the concept of home, noting their freshmen year combined an initial homesickness most students feel and a premature end due to the pandemic. “The instability and unpredictability we experienced during that time may make us especially likely to seek constancy in wherever we call home,” she said.
“But, now, as each of us collects our diplomas, we may be anticipating a new stage of homesickness: a stage in which we miss our campus home,” Johnson said. “The fact that I have so many things to miss indicates the quality of the home that I am leaving behind here at Grove City … We will miss these things. But, may our last four years at Grove City College have prepared us for a better home. A heavenly home that we will never have to leave.”
Commencement is a milestone for all graduates, but for one member of the Class of 2023, the day carried special meaning. Grace Sabella ’23 is the daughter of alums John ’01 and Melissa (Snowden) Sabella ’02. Grace was born a few hours after her mom graduated, but she was well on her way 21 years ago when Melissa made her way across the commencement stage to accept a degree in Elementary Education.
Melissa had begun experiencing what she thought were false labor pains a few hours before her commencement and decided to power through it. “I had worked so hard (for my degree) in the past four years and I just wanted to be there,” she said in an alumni magazine story from the time.
Melissa put her degree to good use, her daughter said, homeschooling Grace and her nine siblings. When it came to selecting a college, Grace said Grove City was “obviously” her first choice. “I think my first Grove City merch was a ‘Future Grover’ onesie that I wore as a baby. My parents came back to campus for homecoming and took us to the parade often, so I have some really fun memories of being on campus as a kid. The community here is honestly what made me ultimately choose Grove City – with a little encouragement from my parents, of course,” she said.
More than half of the Class of 2023 graduated with cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude honors. More than half of the graduates – 242 – earned Bachelor of Science degrees. The rest of the degrees were Bachelor of Arts (124), Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (40), Bachelor of Electrical Engineering (14), and Bachelor of Music (8). The College also awarded seven Master of Science in Business Analytics degrees.