David Brooks Inspires at Commencement

The class of 2015 includes 310 graduates

Westmont Sends 310 New Alumni into the World and Honors the Golden Warriors from the Class of 1965

Commencement speaker David Brooks demonstrated his talent as a humorist while offering the class of 2015 advice about commitment, love and taking chances in their career s May 9 on campus. Brooks’ opening, witty monologue shone a ray of sunshine on an otherwise overcast day that celebrated the graduation of 310 students.

Brooks said graduates faced two paths: a soul-crushing job as a cog in a corporate machine or a lifetime in the basement of their parents’ home. He noted that colleges generally ask people with some career success to advise graduates of the folly of career success.

Commencement May 2015

David Brooks

When he got serious, he encouraged the class of 2015 to widen their horizon of risk and consider taking an unconventional first job such as teaching English in a small village in Korea.

Mostly, he emphasized the importance of commitment. “A person of character makes commitments,” he said. He noted that society tells people to be open-minded and free and provides incentives against committing. “But the purpose of an open mind is to close on something,” he said. “Don’t fear commitment.”

Brooks said the best way to find happiness and fulfillment is to commit to five things in life: a vocation, a marriage, a philosophy of life, a community, and a faith. “Commitment sounds like a hard and unpleasant word,” he said. “A better word is ‘love’; commitment is falling in love with something.” Love accomplishes five things in our lives, he said. It humbles us and opens hard ground in our lives, bringing both greater suffer ing and greater joy. It decenters us and fuses us to another. To illustrate the importance of love and commitment, Brooks told the story of Dorothy Day, who began her adult life with wayward living. Then she was wrongfully arrested, and she took a good look at herself and didn’t like what she saw. When she gave birth to a daughter, she felt such love she began to look for someone to thank, and she found God. As she sought to live for God, she started serving the poor in her community, living among them and sharing their suffering and privations. Brooks writes about Day and other inspiring people in his latest book, “The Road to Character,” urging readers to develop “eulogy” virtues as well as “resume” virtues.

(Left to right:) Board of Trustees chairman Peter Thorrington, President Gayle D. Beebe, David Brooks, and Westmont Medal recipient Rolf Geyling

(Left to right:) Board of Trustees chairman Peter Thorrington, President Gayle D. Beebe, David Brooks, and Westmont Medal recipient Rolf Geyling

The ceremony honored 51 Golden Warriors, members of the Class of 1965 celebrating 50 years since they graduated from Westmont. Rolf Geyling, director of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, accepted the Westmont Medal. The Dean’s Award went to track star Elysia Hodges Mitchell and tennis standout Joshua Barnard. Rob Limkeman won the Dave Dolan Award for his leadership and contributions to the community’s social and spiritual needs. Elizabeth Simoneit and Matt Browne won the Kenneth Monroe Award for superior academic achievement and leadership. The Faculty Scholarship Award went to Nicole Blois, Sophia Meulenberg, Heidi Walberg and Benjamin West, who each earned perfect 4.0 GPAs.

Three professor s received the Outstanding Teacher of the Year award: Paul Delaney, professor of English for 43 years (humanities); Heather Keaney, associate professor of history (natural and behavioral sciences); and Andrea Gurney, professor of psychology (social sciences). Edd Noell, professor of economics and business, won Faculty Researcher of the Year.

The class of 2015 includes 310 graduates (top photo). David Brooks (middle photo). Board of Trustees chairman Peter Thorrington, President Gayle D. Beebe, David Brooks, and Westmont Medal recipient Rolf Geyling (bottom photo, left to right).

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