• Collegian staff

Willamette professors offer words of wisdom to graduating students

Karen Wood

University Chaplain and Professor of Religious Studies 

Courtesy of Willamette

“Be open and curious about what life is bringing you—don’t close off to possibility. My colleague Omid Safi asks the question:  What if you knew that you would be blessed, but not through whom or how?  Look for the invitations, the blessings, the openings, the wondrous, the mysterious.”


Gaetano DeLeonibus

Professor of French and Comparative Literature and the History of Ideas

Courtesy of Willamette

“Chers Amis,

If anything, the COVID-19 crisis has shown us that globalization, or the ‘Englishfication’ of the world, has failed to create solidarity among peoples. How quickly Western countries have retrieved unto themselves within their walls leaving the rest of the world to fend for themselves! To oppose the arrogance, vanity and greed that have informed at the helm of this world, will you help us inject new life into our motto, Non nobis solum nati sumus, in order …?

A bientôt sur le champ de bataille!”



Jeanne Clark 

Professor of Rhetoric

Courtesy of Willamette

“In the last section of ‘Little Gidding,’ T.S. Eliot writes, ‘What we call the beginning is often the end/And to make an end is to make a beginning./The end is where we start from.’ You seniors have come to a long-anticipated end in a difficult time that forecasts awkward beginnings. You aren’t the first to graduate in uncertain, even somewhat frightening days, and you probably won’t be the last, but this graduation should still be a time of hope and anticipation. You have been educated for problem solving, for creative thought, for service, for considered and considerate action. We are in a time that needs all of these gifts. As the world changes, your direction in life may change, so stay alert for the work that brings you fulfillment and joy. Continually prepare yourself for that. I found a love of poetry only in grad school. I broadened my political horizons in those same years while living in the Middle East in an international community. Let this be a chance for you to begin to learn the things you didn’t have time to learn while at Willamette. Keep trying something new. Eliot continues, ‘We shall not cease from exploration/And the end of all our exploring/ Will be to arrive where we started/ And know the place for the first time.’ So graduate, explore and come to know yourself better in this newly strange and challenging world. Be confident. Live in hope.”

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