JUNIATA COLLEGE HISTORY PROFESSOR URGES 2002 GRADUATES TO FOCUS ON MATTERS THAT THEY CAN CONTROL
(Posted May 12, 2002)
HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- David Hsiung, W. Newton and Hazel Long Professor of History at Juniata College, told Juniata students to focus on matters that they can control while living up to the standards that they have set for themselves as he delivered the commencement address at Juniata College's 124th commencement ceremony held today.
The graduating class of 284 students was awarded bachelor of arts (109) or bachelor of science degrees (175) at the ceremony presided over by Juniata College President Thomas R. Kepple.
"Like some of my students, I put off working on this assignment until last night,? joked Hsiung (pronounced "Shung"), who was named 2000 Professor of the Year in the state of Pennsylvania by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. "Since I left this until the last minute, my speech is a little short. It's haiku. Here are my words of wisdom:
"Boldly pursue dreams
and reach far, but don't forget
Give bucks to your school."
Quoting liberally from philosophers such as Homer, Michel Montaigne and Charles Barkley, Hsiung went beyond his haiku poem and prepared the assembled graduates for their first jobs or next experience by saying, ?Do you deserve the hardship and pain that happens to you over a lifetime? I don't think so. You can rage at the gods or you can simply do what you can. Take care of the things you have control over and don't worry about the things you don't have control over.?
After Hsiung's speech, Juniata presented two alumni and a former administrator at the Catholic University of Lille with honorary doctor of humane letters degrees in recognition of contributions to Juniata College. The college awarded honorary doctor of humane letters degrees to John Dale, a 1954 Juniata graduate and retired executive vice president of the telecommunications software consulting firm Dale, Gesek, McWilliams and Sheridan; Quayton Stottlemyer, a 1951 Juniata graduate and a retired senior research chemist for E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. Inc. and donor of the Worth B. Stottlemyer Art Collection; and Gerard Lepoutre, former dean of the Diocese of Lille, France, and a former professor and administrator at the Catholic University of Lille.
A 2002 Graduation Pledge of social and environmental responsibility was signed by more than 200 seniors, and the pledge states, "I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work." The 2002 Senior Class Gift is a contribution for a new entrance feature to Founders Hall, Juniata's administration building.
"All of you who have achieved so much -- you didn't get here alone," Hsiung continued in his commencement address. "According to that modern-day philosopher Charles Barkley, 'When you get to the top, send the elevator back down.'"
Hsiung earned a bachelor's degree from Yale University in 1983 and earned a master's and doctorate in History from the University of Michigan in 1991. He has been a Juniata faculty member since 1991. He was promoted to full professor in 2001. In 1997 the College awarded him the W. Newton and Hazel A. Long Chair in History. He also received Juniata College's 1995 Junior Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Hsiung, who was chosen by the graduating seniors to deliver the commencement address, teaches the introductory U.S. History courses as well as advanced courses that examine the American Revolution, North American environmental history, local history, and modern American wars.
Hsiung's 1997 book, "Two Worlds in the Tennessee Mountains: Exploring the Origins of Appalachian Stereotypes," received the 1996 Appalachian Studies Award from The Appalachian Studies Association and the University Press of Kentucky. His next book will look at Indian-white relations in colonial Pennsylvania as well as the methods historians use to understand the past.
Hsiung gently told the graduating seniors that not every person receives honors for their work. "Sometimes you don't get what you deserve, whether it's an award, or acceptance into that top graduate program, or that dream job," he pointed out. "Well, don't despair. If you can think out and manage your own life and if you live up to your standards then it really doesn't matter what the gods have thrown at you."
He concluded the address by telling Juniata's graduates that the values learned at Juniata College will be useful throughout their lives. "Sometimes you get what you don't deserve and sometimes you don't get what you do deserve," he said in closing. "I hope your time at Juniata has taught you to act as best you can, and to complete your great and glorious masterpiece by living appropriately."
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