As friends and family members sat patiently under the moss-draped oak trees in Cistern Yard, nearly 850 graduates from the School of Business and the School of Sciences and Mathematics crossed the sun-dappled stage to officially become the newest College of Charleston alumni.
The Saturday morning program was the second of three commencements ceremonies held by the College of Charleston this weekend.
United States District Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks ‘83 was the commencement speaker at this ceremony. Hendricks urged the graduates to use what they have learned from the College to better society.
“This world desperately needs you,” she said. “Have you been on Twitter in the last, I don’t know, five years? It’s mayhem out there. I think the kids call it a dumpster fire.”
Hendricks serves as a federal judge for the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina. She earned bachelor’s degrees in history and political science from the College of Charleston and later received her J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law. She was awarded the College of Charleston Distinguished Alumni award in 2015 and was instrumental in the establishment of the College’s Collegiate Recovery Program, which is an institutionally sanctioned and supported program for students in recovery from addiction seeking a degree in higher education.
Hendricks was presented an honorary degree by the College at the ceremony. The College also presented an honorary degree to businesswoman, community leader and philanthropist Linda Ketner.
Chemistry and French major Catherine Dadmun and physics major Dave Austin posed for photos in Cougar Mall prior to the ceremony.
Austin, a resident of Spartanburg, South Carolina, said gradation is a time of reflection for him.
“I am seeing a lot of friends that I have not seen since freshman year,” said Austin. “It brings back old memories and all the good times that we had at the College. It’s a great feeling.”
Dadmun’s family travelled from Knoxville, Tennessee, for her graduation. She said her family will not only be celebrating her graduation and her brother’s birthday, but they will also commemorate Mother’s Day. She said the family reunion is special for her mother.
“I think that she is happy that the whole family is together around Mother’s Day,” she said. “I think that is the biggest thing for her.”
Both Dadmun and Austin have plans for after graduation. Dadmun will be going to graduate school at Cornell University for an advanced degree in food sciences, studying wine chemistry. Austin is heading to the University of Central Florida. He hopes to eventually earn a doctoral degree in computational physics.
Students were not the only ones saying goodbye to the College following the ceremony. Saturday morning’s commencement was also the final ceremony for School of Sciences and Mathematics Dean Michael Auerbach, who is retiring from the College this summer after serving as dean since 2010.