Washington, Pa. (May 20, 2013)—Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch addressed the graduates at Washington & Jefferson College’s 214th Commencement Saturday, May 18. The two-time Super Bowl champion and Pittsburgh native displayed his Super Bowl rings and acknowledged his own career success as he encouraged the graduating class to create meaning as they develop their own careers.
“I can’t sit up here and tell you what it’s going to take for you to become a 15-year NFL veteran. I can’t tell you what it’s going to take for you to get to three super bowls, and win two, and have two super bowl rings,” Batch said. “All I’m going to tell you is this: There’s a right way and there’s a wrong way. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what you want to do. I challenge you to go out there and make a difference.”
Amirah Polite of Potomac, Md., an international business major, addressed her fellow graduates as the senior class speaker.
“Pretty soon, one by one, we are going to walk across this stage to receive not only our diploma, but the right to call ourselves Presidents,” Polite said. “Our time here has been phenomenal. It has been an absolute honor taking classes and participating in events with all of you. We have been equipped with the skills to go far. And with the support of the friends we have made here, we will go even further than that.”
Polite also referenced the tragic loss of classmate Tim McNerney, a senior business administration major and football player who was killed off campus in October, by adding, “Today, all of our hearts beat a little louder for Tim.” McNerney’s brother accepted an honorary undergraduate degree on Tim’s behalf during the ceremony.
In her valedictory address, W&J President Tori Haring-Smith, Ph.D., told graduates, “At W&J, you learn strength and you learn perseverance. When you think the problems are too tough, call upon your inner strength. That is what you have developed here. Take that hard work and determination into the world with you.”
Honorary degrees were awarded to Batch, Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr., retired NASA astronaut and the first African-American to walk in space; James E. Rohr, executive chairman of PNC Financial Services Group, the nation’s seventh-largest bank with more than 5 million customers and 56,000 employees; and Rabbi Serena Fujita, Jewish chaplain at Bucknell University.
Washington & Jefferson College has a 91 percent placement rate in employment or graduate school within six months of graduation, and the class of 2013 would seem to be keeping up. Among their accomplishments:
• Three students have been accepted to the Teach for America program
• Two students received Fulbright awards
• Two students will work as visiting English tutors at Lingnan University in Hong Kong
• Students accepted positions at KPMG, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers and multiple other accounting firms
• One student will be working with the Peace Corps in Peru
• Other students have gone on to Fortune 500 companies like BNY Mellon and PNC Bank
Graduates have been accepted to the following post-graduate programs, among others:
• Boston College
• Hofstra University
• Loyola University
• University of Pittsburgh
• Carnegie Mellon University
• George Washington University
• The Ohio State University
• University of California, Irvine
• Sotheby's Institute of Art