Denison University’s 178th Commencement took place on Saturday, May 18. Watch the ceremony in its entirety including commencement keynote speaker Jennifer Garner ’94.
I grew up in Ohio but spent many years away, including in France, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and the Washington, D.C. area. I’m happy to be back in a place where Cavs games will always be televised, and I have especially enjoyed being part of the Denison community. Denisonians are intellectually curious, thoughtfully express questions and ideas, and are attuned to movements from the campus to a global level. That’s me as an educator, too. Being a student in a residential liberal arts environment shaped my life trajectory. I had a professor who used to say, “Life is a cumulative exam,” an idea I think about often; each person’s seemingly unrelated experiences and choices uniquely equip us for our roles and relationships. In my case, that role is as an educator, which I deeply enjoy.
Our Residential Communities team focuses on building community. The size of our community also creates great opportunity – and necessity – around relationship building. Community means developing rapport and dialogue through difference, so we can connect to one another and to resources – and challenges – in the world, and work on making progress together. We believe that telling our stories is powerful and discomfort is an occasional and healthy experience through which we grow. Our work in the Office of Community Values and Conflict Resolution is related. We help students improve community by working through complex interpersonal and organizational challenges. There is a cultural aversion to healthy conflict, but with it, we can answer complex questions. How does one resolve dissonance with fairness and compassion? How can we understand, forgive, and restore? How might we build a community where all members feel recognized and valued?
I enjoy listening to students’ stories, and I’m always happy to connect about a wild idea, favorite read, dream destination, or future goal. You can find me at many Denison fine arts, athletic, and cultural events, or connect with me and our team members in the Curtis Community Center, Huffman Center, and Slayter Hall.