This time of year is always special for me as our students come face to face with the fruits of their labor at graduation. On Saturday May 23, we will hold our 71st commencement, and I will have the honor as president of handing out diplomas to 44 students who will graduate from Trinity Lutheran College. That number may be small, but I know the impact of these graduates will not be small.
At Trinity, we have amazing students. During the last year, we’ve come to realize our student body is being shaped in a very special unique way. You see, over half our students self-identify as students of color. Also over half our students receive Pell Grants, which help pay for their education. A significant number of our students are first generation college students.
Many of these students, who traditionally have not had numerous opportunities to attend college, join our community with a great sense of vision, enthusiasm and excitement. They realize the opportunity they have been given in attending a private, four-year, faith-based institution. These students are engaged and involved in their education. They take advantage of each moment.
We, too, are realizing as an institution that we are skilled in nurturing, mentoring and challenging these students to achieve their goals and find success. A recent poll examined colleges around the country, evaluating how well each college performed in educating this very population, the first generation Pell Grant-eligible students. With over 1,700 colleges evaluated, Trinity ranked eighth! Our performance with these students is off the charts. I could not be more pleased that we are carrying out our mission with these students in such significant ways.
I hope you will tell others about our success and pass the word around. I also hope that if you want to know more about what we are doing, you will pay us a visit. Our doors are always open to you!
I will be smiling this Saturday as I hand each of our graduates a piece of paper that signifies a milestone accomplishment: a Bachelor’s degree. I will be silently thanking God for each student as they shake my hand.
But most of all, when all the diplomas are gone, I will sit back in my chair anticipating the amazing things these Trinity graduates will accomplish in the years ahead.