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Dr. Rodale encourages DelVal graduates to improve the world

May 13, 2017

Dr. Maria Rodale speaking at the ceremony

Credit: Delaware Valley University. Dr. Maria Rodale addresses the graduating class. 

"Leave things better,” Dr. Maria Rodale told graduates at Delaware Valley University’s 118th Commencement on Saturday, May 13. 

Dr. Rodale is chairman and CEO of Rodale, Inc., a global health and wellness content company. Some of the company's titles include Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Runner’s World, Bicycling, Prevention magazine, and books such as "An Inconvenient Truth," "South Beach Diet" and "Thug Kitchen." Over the years, Dr. Rodale has been recognized for her work by major organizations including the National Audubon Society and the United Nations Population Fund. She is co-chair of the board at the Rodale Institute, a completely independent nonprofit working farm that conducts agricultural research, and she sits on the board of the Economic and Community Advisory Council, and the Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH) Advisory Board. 

In her Commencement address, Dr. Rodale told the Class of 2017 that what is important in the end is whether a life has a positive impact on the world. 

“When the time comes for the final ending that we all will face, hopefully later rather than sooner, a lot of the things you thought were important won’t be, but whether, or not, you left the world and your relationships better will be important,” said Dr. Rodale. “Leave it better.”

She talked about the type of world the Class of 2017 would go on to work in and the impact technology would have on their lives. 

“You’re an interesting generation,” said Dr. Rodale. “Facing everything from climate chaos to machine learning and artificial intelligence.”

She said that technology can be positive, but that it wouldn’t solve the world’s problems alone. 

“Technology is a wonderful gift, with a lot to offer us in improving quality of life, but it won’t solve our problems and it’s no substitute when it comes to life, love or nature,” said Dr. Rodale. 

She asked the graduating seniors to savor moments and explore the world around them. 

“Immerse yourself in the world rather than driving right past it,” said Dr. Rodale. 

She said that solving future challenges will require people to “connect as humans and connect with nature” and to “respect and understand nature and each other.”

“Domination and control are lonely and ineffective tools for living successfully,” said Dr. Rodale. “There’s only one tool that always works and that is love, remember that.”

Dr. Rodale told the graduating seniors to shine. 

“Let your light shine,” said Dr. Rodale. “Let the other people in your life shine brightly too. And don’t be afraid to shine your light without shame, or fear, or worry about what others will think because even if people try to ridicule you, which they will or, try to stop you, which they might, it’s your life to live and create. It’s your story. So shine.”

She left the Class of 2017 with a piece of advice she gives interns.

“If you think your life and your career are going to be a straight line, think again,” said Dr. Rodale. “It will be curvy and it will be as wonderful and as adventurous as you make it. Be grateful every day for the opportunities you have to shine. I look forward to seeing you all write the amazing stories of your lives.”

DelVal awarded Dr. Rodale an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the ceremony and granted Larry Hepner ’74 the title of professor emeritus. Hepner was honored for his years of dedicated service to DelVal’s students. 

“Larry quickly became a trusted colleague and a mentor as well as my friend,” said Dr. Benjamin Rusiloski, interim vice president for academic affairs, as he recognized Hepner. “I know that there are countless other individuals here today who are inspired by Larry’s presence in both their personal and professional worlds.”

Student Government Board President Ryan Owens ’17 told her class, “today isn’t a goodbye, but maybe just a see you later.”

ryan owens speaking at the ceremony

Credit: Delaware Valley University.  Student Government Board President Ryan Owens '17. 

“DelVal has made us each into a better version of ourselves, but that doesn’t have to stop at graduation,” said Owens. “The door to home is always open.” 

Class President Fahbian Koscinski ’17 reflected on what it means to be part of DelVal.

“We are part of such a tight-knit family that it can be difficult walking from Mandell to the cafeteria without saying, ‘Hi,’ to an acquaintance or friend,” said Koscinski.

Fahbian Koscinski speaking at the ceremony

Credit: Delaware Valley University.  Class President Fahbian Koscinski '17 speaking at the ceremony.

He asked his classmates to show the world what makes DelVal’s alumni special.

“Go out there and show the world what it means to be an Aggie,” said Koscinski. “Fight for what you believe in and chase your dreams with a passion that no one has ever seen before. This is what makes us so different because this is what it means to be an Aggie. This is what it means to be family. I wish you all the best of luck and I look forward to seeing all the success my family has in the future.”