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Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley tells the class of 2012 to be extraordinary

May 21, 2012

Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley told the Class of 2012 to dream big at Delaware Valley College’s 113th Commencement on Saturday, May 19.

Cawley is the 32nd lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania and a former Bucks County commissioner.

He said that students should remember one piece of advice, to dream big dreams and have the courage to act on them.

Cawley said that the members of the graduating class were extremely fortunate to be sitting where they were.

“You are among the lucky few,” said Cawley.

He said that much of the world lives in poverty and struggles for basic necessities like food and water, never knowing the freedoms that people in the U.S. enjoy.

“In many ways they don’t live in the same world you inhabited in your youth,” said Cawley.

He told students that because they are educated at some point in their lives they will be called upon to lead and that if education does its job right, it give students something more than knowledge of one subject.

“What college does for us, if it does its job, is to make us more complete people,” said Cawley. “College is a place where tomorrow’s chemists know just a little about the Ottoman Empire.”

He said college is also a place to reevaluate beliefs.

“College is about learning how to be yourself,” said Cawley. “Some came as nonbelievers who now, after a few exams, have left here trusting in God.”

He told students to do what is right, even when it’s unpopular.

Cawley said the biggest lesson he wanted the graduates to come away with was to aim high.

“I couldn’t remember what my Commencement speaker said to me and he was Bill Cosby,” said Cawley as he reflected on his own graduation. “Remember this, make your lives extraordinary. If you are going to be in business, be the next Bill Gates. You have a leg up on him. You have a college degree, he doesn’t.”

He said if students are going to be in agriculture, they should try to feed the world and come up with solutions to current and future challenges.

“Dream big and have the courage to act,” said Cawley. “Make your lives extraordinary.”

The college awarded honorary degrees to Janet Manion, Rita Miller Marini and Cawley.

Manion was a woman who thought of other people before herself. When her son, 1st Lt. Travis Manion was killed while serving as a Marine in Iraq, she started a foundation to honor him and to serve others.

She received her degree at the hospital before she passed away. Her husband Retired U.S. Marine Col. Thomas Manion attended the ceremony to speak on her behalf.

“This is a great honor for our family. We thank Delaware Valley College for that,” said Thomas Manion. “When she received the award she said it wasn’t about her. It was about the friends and family that made it happen.”

He said that Janet’s friends and family fully intend to keep going with the great work that she started.

The audience stood to applaud when he accepted on his wife’s behalf.

DelVal also awarded an honorary degree to Rita Marini, a woman who has spent decades supporting the college. Marini is an 1896 Society member and an honorary member of the alumni association.

She is the wife of Gerard Marini, an alumnus, trustee, and former board chair of DelVal.

The couple have supported the college generously and created an endowed scholarship fund to help students attend DelVal.

Jim Cawley was awarded an honorary doctorate at the ceremony.

“He left a significant mark on the county and his work in the Commonwealth has been outstanding,” said College President Dr. Joseph S. Brosnan of Cawley.

Each year, the college also names the recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Member Award at Commencement.

The award goes to a faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching, who always makes time for students, and who has contributed significantly to the college. The winner is awarded a stipend for professional development.

This year, two faculty members Associate Professor of Horticulture Dr. Jackie Ricotta and English and Liberal Arts Department Chair Dr. Jack Schmidt tied for the award. 

Dr. Ricotta is a strong example of a faculty member who lives the college’s science with practice philosophy incorporating engaging hands-on activities into her classes.

Dr. Schmidt was chosen because of his involvement in strategic planning, study abroad, and his leadership in developing proposed master’s programs.

Dr. Brosnan highlighted three students in his speech, but said that he could be talking about any of the members of the graduating class.

“Delaware Valley College is indebted to the class of 2012 for what each of you have brought us,” said Dr. Brosnan. “You have made DelVal a better place.”

The Class of 1962 celebrated its 50th anniversary at the event. Dr. John Mertz, a former vice president for academic affairs and a DelVal alumnus was there to celebrate with his class.