Jim Amidon — The Class of 2009 was graduated from Wabash Sunday afternoon.
The men in the Class of 2009 had much to reflect upon as they sat in the sunshine on the College Mall. Who knows what they thought about? Maybe the friendships they have made with their classmates, professors, coaches, and people on the staff.
Prehaps they remembered specific moments from their classes that were turning points in their academic careers. Maybe they remembered big hits — on the football and baseball fields — and in performances on stage by their fellow students.
I was reviewing the list of graduates the other day and just kept smiling as I thought about the many accomplishments of these talented, curious, and bright young men. I know a good many of them personally, and those I don’t know, I have followed from my perch in Kane House.
I wish I knew Kyle Prifogle better. He’s one of our top students in mathematics and — in good liberal arts fashion — chose to minor in music. As a musician, he’s one of the most talented pianists to come through Wabash in decades, and he was also a pivotal leader of our world music ensemble, Wamidan. Now he’s headed to graduate school in mathematics, but I have a hunch that music will always be part of his life.
Andy Leshovsky, who came to us from St. Paul, Minnesota, really struggled his first couple of years at Wabash. After taking a year off, he turned things around to become an amazingly talented student and accomplished leader. His work ethic drove him through the second part of his Wabash career, and is one reason why Dean Gary Phillips selected him to give one of the two commencement addresses this Sunday.
The other address will be given by “Duncan” Dam, who is an international student from Hanoi, Vietnam. Not only did he graduate with Phi Beta Kappa honors as a chemistry major, he sang in the Glee Club and was a tour guide for our Admissions Office.
There are some pretty amazing student-athletes who graduated this weekend, too. Baseball players Matt Dodaro and Jake Thomas annihilated the record book as hitters and willed their teammates to the conference playoffs, a feat never before accomplished since Wabash joined the NCAC. Thomas not only set the single-season hits record, he earned a spot on the Academic All-District team with a sterling grade point average.
If you talk about athletes and grade point averages, Brock Graham quickly comes to mind. Technically, he graduated this weekend, but he finished up all of his course work in December — in just five semesters and with a grade point average just shy of perfect. On the football field, there was nobody any tougher when it came to picking up short yards or catching the ball in traffic.
Jay Horrey and Sean Clerget are among my favorite tennis doubles partners ever. See, these two guys were recruited as tennis players and both joined Beta Theta Pi fraternity. They chose to major in political science as pre-law students, and they traveled Europe together as juniors.
What makes them such good friends, though, are their differences — perhaps. Jay was president of the College Democrats; Sean edited the campus conservative journal, The Phoenix, and had an internship with Republican Senator Richard Lugar. Only at Wabash.
Matt Goodrich is another amazing senior. Over the last four years, he’s starred in about every role imaginable on the Wabash stage — from villain to hero to lover.
Most people know Rich Lehmann as a linebacker on the football team. Most don’t realize that he’s pursuing a career as a professional singer.
Speaking of singers, seniors Royce Gregerson, Justin Bilby, Jay Brouwer, and Tom Pizarek made up the backbone of the stunningly impressive Wabash College Glee Club these last four years. And if they didn’t have other options, I suspect all could join Lehmann in pursuit of professional singing careers.
Asher Weaver won the community service award during the end-of-year academic convocation. As two-year president of Alpha Phi Omega, Asher volunteered literally hundreds of hours of service to this community, and under his leadership, APO donated upwards of $25,000 to local agencies in the last two years.
Nathan Rutz didn’t receive honors for his service — to the state of West Virginia, where he has been an activist in the fight against the coal mining technique known as “mountain top removal.”
I could go on and on about the men in the Class of 2009. Each young man made his own way through Wabash, created his own memories, and etched an indelible mark in the College’s history. I wish all of them the best of luck as their lives unfold.
Godspeed, Wabash Class of 2009.