happy graduate with Rece Davis

Trine celebrates commencement
and softball tournament victory

ANGOLA, Ind. – Plenty of positive energy generated a celebratory mood this weekend at Trine University when more than 400 graduates marched during commencement and the softball team won its fifth conference title.

For the first time since 1967, commencement took place outside. On Saturday morning, friends and family members packed Fred Zollner Athletic Stadium to see their loved ones take part in the ceremony.

The day before, Trine's softball team grabbed its fifth MIAA conference title. The No. 2-ranked team in the nation heads into the NCAA regional tournament as the No. 1 seed and as the league winner, too. The team's victory came Friday afternoon as Trine prepped for commencement.

Commencement is "a wonderful day for all of you and a great day for your families," Rece Davis, an ESPN commentator, told the graduates.  Earning a degree is not going to separate you from others, because more than a million others will earn bachelor degrees, he said. However, "your experience, your training, your education at Trine University is certainly going to separate you," he said.

Davis started his career as an unpaid intern working in sports broadcasting and is now primary studio host for ESPN's coverage of college football and as the play-by-play announcer on ESPN's "Thursday Primetime" series. During basketball season, he hosts ESPN's "College GameDay" and is the play-by-play voice on a weekly game during conference season.

College is core curriculum while the rest of life is an elective, Davis said. "Choose an elective that keeps you vibrant and healthy ... I get to do that," he said. "I've never gone to work a day in my life ... I hope that you elect to not just go to work." Davis was quick to clarify he did not say to not get a job or to not work hard.

Highlights from Davis' speech:

Don't listen to the wrong person; show respect and fit in with fellow employees, but graduates should remember that they are responsible for their careers.

"Step out, find a way to sing your song." There's always "someone waiting to knock you off key" so be ready, stick to convictions and show boldness – it's needed to change the world.

It's "fun to do the impossible" so focus on the minute details and find success.

"Elect to love your family like no one else can imagine." Love is a decision and a commitment so make that commitment to spouses, children and family.

Be the ultimate of a "giving generation," but remember to have a balance of career and family. "Your family will remember what you made important to them."

"Each moment has a life and history of its own," Davis said. If you "focus on the process of your life you are much more likely to get the results you want."

"Pick a good pitch, put a good swing on it and live with the consequences," he said. "A lifetime of happy beginnings is starting right now."

Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., Trine president, presided over the ceremony and opened by saying members of the class of 2013 have persevered and should celebrate the freshness of a new beginning.

"Remember this day and this university as you travel this new path," he told graduates.

One at a time, graduates walked across the stage as their names were announced. Some paused to use their smartphones to snap photos of themselves with the president or with Davis, while others reached out to shake Davis' hand.

Julia Nell, Robert B. Stewart Award winner, gave the response for the class of 2013. She compared Trine University to a whetstone that was used to sharpen the minds of the graduates. "Amid the fires of change, we've been tried," she said. "We have minds of steel that are too resilient to crack."

"It is time to show the world we are the sharpened swords, we are ready," she said. Nell also thanked professors, families and friends for supporting and encouraging the graduates.

Nell of Ada, Okla., has accepted a full scholarship for doctoral studies at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. She plans to study radiochemistry with a focus on nuclear forensics.

Three honorary doctorate degrees were also conferred. Davis received the Doctor of Public Service. Trine alumnus and Board of Trustees chairman Rick L. James received the Doctor of Business Administration. James's wife, Vick L. James, received the Doctor of Humane Letters. The Jameses are faithful and generous supporters of Trine University.

The Trine University Brass Ensemble performed before commencement and for the prelude. It also accompanied the Trine University Vocal Quartet for the national anthem.

After the ceremony, there was a reception with refreshments outside the Rick L. and Vicki L. James University Center. Families used the festive atmosphere for group photos and to relax and have fun celebrating their graduates.

A few fun facts:

In the wind -- A north breeze kept aloft a few mortarboards tossed in the air by new graduates.

A cap with character – David Nichols, a criminal justice and psychology major from Tipton, Ind., topped his mortarboard with a model black and white patrol car with working headlights and emergency flashers.

An apple a day – Some of the graduates in the Franks School of Education let their creativity show with mortarboards decorated with red apples, an apple and ruler, an equation and a verse.

Storm put on a cap and gown to greet young and young-at-heart visitors. Storm and a buddy used the Ryan Skywalk to get to the stadium where Storm posed for photographs and gave children miniature diplomas.

Commencement speaker Rece Davis thanked the Kappa Sigma brothers for making sure he burned the midnight oil, and the after-midnight oil to prepare for his speech.

Cutline: A graduate takes a moment to photograph himself with Rece Davis, Trine University's commencement speaker.