NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- "Educate yourself," speaker Daniel Hege told the Bethel College graduating class during the college's 111th commencement May 23. A 1987 Bethel College graduate and current music director for the Syracuse (N.Y.) Symphony Orchestra, Hege spoke on "Podium Perspectives." Families and friends gathered in Memorial Hall to join the Bethel College community in honoring the 95 graduates, who received bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees in 24 majors.
Hege's reflections challenged the graduates to see beyond themselves. Speaking from his experiences as a professional conductor, he remembered being surprised to discover while he was a student at Bethel that it was possible to reach far beyond one's expectations.
"Ignite the flame that is already within you," said Hege. "Create your own opportunities." He found that Bethel College cultivated his own curiosity and discipline and allowed him many opportunities for learning and performance.
When he attended graduate school, he realized he had to narrow his scope of learning and chose orchestral conducting but continued to pursue other interests in music on the side. "You can allow a person or situation to limit you, or you can create a perspective larger than yourself," said Hege, admitting that on occasion he has had qualms about his ability to accomplish what he has said he could do.
To improve himself, Hege has discovered ways to eliminate barriers. One time, after great effort, he succeeded in contacting the famous North American conductor Robert Shaw to ask permission to watch a rehearsal. "If something's really important to you, you will find a way to do it; let your curiosity lead you," Hege said.
Know yourself first. Be responsible for finding out who you are. Hold onto your idealism "because it can slip away easily," said Hege. He recounted his father's quiet service to people in Aberdeen, Idaho, reminding the graduates of Bethel's commitment to both scholarship and service.
"Bethel College proved to be a window to the world for me; I hope you will find it will be that for yourself," Hege said in conclusion.
Ceremonies on Sunday also included the baccalaureate service on the theme "And here a Bethel make," based on Gen. 28:17. The graduates presented reflections, music, scripture, readings and prayers.
"Bethel College understood the language of hearing one's call," said graduate Mark Griffith, a Bible and religion major from Peabody, who was chosen as one of three graduates to offer reflections at baccalaureate. "I realize my journey was not just my searching for my call. ... I am now no longer intimidated by the vocabulary of following one's call." Blessings and candlelighting concluded the baccalaureate service.