For the first time in two years, seniors will be able to enjoy a commencement ceremony similar to pre-pandemic years. On Sunday, May 1, the class of 2022 will gather in the Recreation-Fitness Center to bring their time as Goshen College students to a close. 

According to Brian Yoder Schlabach, a member of the Commencement Planning Committee, this year will bring “a return to a ‘normal’ commencement weekend.” One of the biggest changes, compared to last year’s event, is that seniors are allowed to bring guests to the graduation ceremony.

With this change, the committee sought to acknowledge Yoder Schlabach stated that the committee wanted to acknowledge that “family and friends are an important part of celebrating graduation,” and so they “did the math, based on CDC guidance, for how many people we could safely fit into the Rec-Fitness Center.”

Graduating seniors will receive four tickets for the ceremony, and they are able to invite guests of their choosing. Masks will be required for all students and guests attending the ceremony.

For those who are unable to attend, the ceremony will be available through the GC live stream. 

Additionally, there has been one major scheduling change to the commencement weekend: according to Yoder Schlabach, the planning committee will “combine the baccalaureate event that is usually on Sunday morning with the senior showcase and the president’s reception event on Saturday evening.” 

The committee hopes that this will allow students and families to spend time together on that Sunday morning. 

The main address for the ceremony will be given by John D. Roth, history professor and director of the Mennonite Historical Library. This address will mark the end of Roth’s 36-year teaching career at GC.  

Roth called the role of speaking at commencement a “rare privilege,” and while he is still nailing down the focus of the speech, it is clear that history, story and memory will be key themes. Many of his ideas stem from his time at GC, as both a student and professor. 

The study of history has imparted on him that while “every individual and moment of time is different … we are all asking the same basic questions.” For Roth, history’s unique power lies in story and memory. He believes that “the stories we tell have the power to liberate and inspire.” 

Following the end of this semester, Roth will transition to a new role as the project director for MennoMedia’s “Anabaptism at 500” program. In this role, he hopes to help the Anabaptist tradition “not just look back, but also look ahead.” 

Commencement will offer a space of reflection for both Roth and the graduating seniors as they transition away from their time at GC and into the wider world.