You are prepared to take on the unexpected.
That was the encouragement William S. Rukeyser gave to graduates of Maryville College's class of 2002 during Commencement exercises held Sunday on the College campus. Approximately 2,000 people - including 170 graduates - were in attendance to hear his address entitled "Expectations."
Drawing comparisons from the world he graduated into in 1961, Rukeyser assured graduates that, with their liberal arts education, they were prepared for a life of change.
"When I graduated, the world was dangerous and hard to change," he said. "The world is still dangerous, but now, conventional wisdom tells us that not only is change permanent but that it will accelerate endlessly."
Rukeyser, a print and broadcast journalist and member of Maryville College's National Advisory Board, was awarded an honorary doctorate from the College during the ceremony.
Against a blue-sky backdrop and into a microphone that amplified the cool breeze, Rukeyser told the graduates: "May you always hear distant thunder and sit under sunny skies Now the fun begins."
In his charge to the graduating class, Dr. Gerald W. Gibson, president of Maryville College, shared a memory from his boyhood days in Sunday School and of a verse in Romans, chapter 12.
Gibson read from the King James version: "And be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
"I charge you to claim that verse for yourself," the president said. "I charge you to leave the College and this ceremony with more than a diploma, more even than the excellent liberal arts education that marks a Maryville College graduate.
"Go with a resolve not to conform to the standards of the world," he continued. "The world will steal away your individuality and your idealism and your principles, if you let it. The world will absorb you, if you let it. Don't let it. Don't blend in - stand out."
Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state‘s third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for its academic rigor and its focus on the liberal arts, Maryville is where students come to stretch their minds, stretch themselves and learn how to make a difference in the world. Total enrollment for the fall 2013 semester was 1,168.