Campus Notes

Drury ukulele players take tiny instruments on big trip to Japan

Anyone who has been to Big Momma’s Coffee and Espresso Bar on Tuesdays between 4:30 and 6 p.m. has heard the cheerful sounds of Drury students strumming their ukuleles and singing. These students are part of a club at called DUkes, and this summer they took a break from their normal coffee house venue and played three shows in Isesaki, Japan.

The opportunity was thanks to the Springfield Sister Cities Association. Each year, SSCA chooses a group from Springfield to play at the Isesaki Music Festival in August, and this year the DUkes were the guests of honor.

Members of the DUkes during an Isesaki street parade.

Members of the DUkes take part in an Isesaki street parade.

“It was such an amazing opportunity to represent Drury and Springfield,” says senior Kelsey Pressnall. “Everyone was so welcoming and hospitable during our time in Isesaki.”

The DUkes performed at a local hospital, a welcome dinner, and on the main stage at the festival.

“We found that people loved to clap along to the songs, even if they weren’t ones you’d normally clap to,” Pressnall says. “We’d be singing the folk song ‘500 Miles’ and they would be dutifully clapping. Our audiences were very engaged.”

Mitch Barrett, a senior theatre and education major, says the trip was “the perfect way to begin my senior year.”

Members of the DUkes performing on stage in Isesaki, Japan.

Members of the DUkes performing on stage in Isesaki.

While in Japan, students stayed with a host family to fully immerse themselves in the culture. For many, this was their favorite part.

“My host mom, brother and sister came to see me off when we left Isesaki,” Pressnall says. “I have to admit, I cried a little knowing I might never see them again. And I wasn’t the only DUkes member to do so!”

Led by professor of communication Dr. Rick Maxson, the DUkes have come a long way in their short life as a club – from a small group playing a few local gigs into international travelers representing all of Springfield.

“This was the trip of a lifetime,” Pressnall says. “I couldn’t have imagined a better experience.”

For more photos from the trip, check out the group’s Facebook page. DUkes plays the Japanese Fall Festival in Springfield on Sept. 12 & 13. The festival takes place at the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden in Nathaniel Greene/Close Memorial Park.

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 Story by Trevor Cobb, sophomore writing major at Drury. 

Internship at Whole Foods a natural fit for high-flying PR student

The first time Kathryn Wilson ever shopped at a Whole Foods Market was when she arrived at the company’s headquarters in Austin, Texas, this summer as an intern with the company’s public relations department.

But familiarity with the supermarket chain specializing in organic food wasn’t a job requirement. It was the talents and skills Wilson honed as an advertising major in Drury’s Department of Communication that took her to Austin.

She was one of just 19 college students across the nation selected for the American Advertising Federation’s highly selective Stickell internship program this year. Drury has a remarkable track record with the program. Wilson is the third Drury student in three years to be selected and seventh since 2005.

Kathryn Wilson

Kathryn Wilson

Wilson, who is from Nixa, says she soaked up an incredible amount of knowledge in her 10 weeks on the job.

“You can really tell they are leading the charge in a lot of areas,” she says of Whole Foods’ approach to PR and branding. “It’s just a great group of people who are incredibly talented.”

Wilson immediately jumped into working with industry-specific software, analyzing the company’s Twitter account and working with outside PR firms on a variety of projects. She recommended changes to the company’s PR Twitter account that are now taking shape, and she handled story requests from national media outlets such as Men’s Journal.

Throughout, she felt like a truly valued member of the team at market-leading company. She relished the opportunity to simply drop into the PR director’s office to talk, and felt gratified that Whole Foods was putting her work to good use.

“That was just a great philosophy for me because I felt appreciated and needed,” she says. “I felt like I was an asset.”

Wilson says Drury has been a major asset to her, especially her time on the AD Team with Dr. Regina Waters.

“The Drury communication department has been incredibly helpful in boosting me in my career and what I want to do later in life after college,” she says. “Dr. Waters in particular has been such a great mentor and cheerleader who’s always in my corner.”

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Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations.

Music professor’s work takes the stage at Edinburgh Festival

Three original works by a Drury music professor are headed to one of the top international music festivals on the planet later this month.

Dr. Carlyle Sharpe’s “Christ Church Mass” and two other pieces have been selected for a live performance at the Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland on Aug. 30.

The event focuses on classical music and opera, and was founded in 1947 as of way of showcasing “the flowering of the human spirit” in the wake of World War II. It grew rapidly and helped spawn dozens of other arts events at the same time, most notably the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, now the world’s largest arts festival.

These events are collectively known as the Edinburgh Festival, and artists whose works are selected for inclusion find themselves in a sought-after spotlight.

Dr. Carlyle Sharpe

Dr. Carlyle Sharpe

“I’ve been very fortunate to have had my works performed in numerous exciting venues, from the Kennedy Center to the International Sacred Music Festival in Riga, Latvia, and the Edinburg Festival is certainly included in those,” says Sharpe, who is professor of music composition and theory.

“Christ Church Mass” was written for Christ Episcopal Church in Springfield and performed there at the 2013 Easter service. It has since become a regular part of the church’s repertoire. Sharpe is a longtime member of the church’s choir.

“The work consists of the typical movements – Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei – performed in the context of a service,” Sharpe says. “Although it can be performed at any time, I added brass quintet and timpani to the standard organ part so that it could be performed for larger, more celebratory occasions such as Easter.”

The other pieces are “Flourishes,” a work for brass quintet and organ and “Laudate Nomen,” a festive work for chorus and organ.

They will be performed at the Church of St. John the Evangelist, an Episcopal Church in Edinburgh.

“Sacred music, in particular, has been a big part of my experience, because as a life-long Episcopalian, music of high quality historically plays a large role in the Episcopal Church,” he says.

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Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations.

Drury professor revels in discoveries, connections to Pluto mission

You can call it a planet, a dwarf planet, or even a ball of ice. But to Dr. Greg Ojakangas, there’s no doubt about what to call Pluto: “Amazingly beautiful.”

Ojakangas, an associate professor of physics at Drury, was one of millions around the world fascinated by the prospect of seeing Pluto up close as NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft recently flew by the icy outpost at a distance of just 7,800 miles.

Color-corrected image of Pluto from New Horizons. (NASA)

Color-corrected image of Pluto from New Horizons. (NASA)

“This is a part of the universe no human has ever seen before,” he says. “It’s not often that you’re able to see, for first time, something no human eyes have ever seen.”

Ojakangas has a deep professional interest in New Horizons. His doctoral work examined the large moons of Jupiter, and the remarkable manner in which such worlds can have orbits that are synchronized with each other, providing power for volcanic eruptions and other fascinating dynamical phenomena.  In a similar manner, it was recently discovered that three of Pluto’s 5 moons are also synchronized.  “The staggering beauty of these phenomena is beyond words,”  Ojakangas says.  New Horizons is yielding incredible new information about Pluto’s five moons.

Greg Ojakangas

Greg Ojakangas

But Ojakangas also has a personal connection. The former finalist in NASA’s astronaut selection program knows many of the researchers working on the New Horizons team. He’s thrilled to see the work of colleagues pay off after the probe launched from Earth more than nine years ago. The results have been spectacular, he says.

“As is usually the case when we see a new planetary body, it’s surpassing our expectations in terms of discoveries,” he says.

Glaciers of nitrogen, mountains as high as those in the Sierra Nevada, a mysterious source of geologic heat and even a faint comet-like tail were some of the revelations beamed back to NASA from the spacecraft. For scientists like Ojakangas, the discoveries are not unlike going down the proverbial rabbit hole from “Alice in Wonderland.”

“The laws of physics are the same but the substances are all different, and it’s surprising everybody,” he says. “We love that kind of thing because we learn from it.”

And the lessons aren’t confined to the edge of the solar system.

“To understand our Earth better, we should do everything we can to understand other planets,” he says. “They’re ready-made laboratories for testing our understanding of how the materials of the universe behave.”

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Story by Mike Brothers, Drury director of media relations. A version of this story originally appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

Drury MBA students study business, culture in Greece

A recent study abroad trip to Greece drove home an emphasis on international business and cultural awareness for Drury MBA students.

Candida Deckard was one of about two dozen on the trip, which included interviewing business leaders face-to-face, meeting with locals and taking in cultural sights.

“Travel in general and seeing different cultures and ideas helps a person expand their views and become more well-rounded,” she says. “Having this as a part of the Drury MBA program added value for my career and my personal life.”

Deckard, human resources director at CNH Industrial Reman in Springfield, says she and her classmates couldn’t have asked for a more interesting setting as far as international business headlines go – they were in Greece as the country’s debt crisis continued to unfold. The crisis didn’t affect the trip, but it brought differences in business practices into sharp relief.

“It was definitely not the capitalist way of running a business,” Deckard says.

Dickered near the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion.

Deckard near the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, one of many sights seen on the trip.

For example, they heard from the country’s largest power company that dozens of secretaries remained on the payroll despite not having defined jobs or a retraining program. In another example, a textile plant was denied permission by the government to reduce its workforce and cut costs – and the entire plant closed soon after.

They also heard about tax reform efforts from leaders of the American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and spoke to a number of small business owners. Historic and cultural sights were on the itinerary as well. Part of the trip was spent at the Drury Center in Aegina.

Studying abroad is a requirement of the program and it offers an experience one can’t get from a book or lecture, says program director Angie Adamick, who also went on this trip along with management professor Dr. Janis Prewitt.

“We believe the only way to really accomplish that is for students to experience another culture and have that interaction with people on the ground,” Adamick says. “It just changes the way they look at international business.”

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Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story originally appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

Education professor studies George Washington Carver on sabbatical

As a someone who teaches future teachers, Dr. Ed Williamson has always been fascinated with one of America’s most storied educators: George Washington Carver.

“(Carver) was born into slavery in the 1860s,” Williamson explains. “Then he contended with all the racism and prejudice of the day, eventually becoming arguably the most well-educated African-American of his time and a world-renowned scientist, inventor and humanitarian.”

Williamson has taught in Drury’s School of Education and Child Development since 1999. His work teaching courses on science instruction led him to build a connection with the staff at the George Washington Carver National Monument outside Diamond, where he would often take students on field trips.

When it came time to take a sabbatical this year, Williamson knew he wanted to spend it at the pastoral Carver Monument – in the archive and in the field as volunteer park ranger.

Williamson at the Carver National Monument site.

Williamson at the Carver National Monument site.

His research focused on the early years of Carver’s life and education. He used primary sources from the Monument’s archive, as well as secondary sources derived from oral histories and a swath of existing scholarship.

Williamson came to know the resiliency of the young Carver, who he says had an “I can” outlook on life from early on. Carver’s thirst for knowledge led him to leave his adoptive home at age 12 and go to school in nearby Neosho, never to return.

The research also led Williamson to a man named Stephen Frost. Frost was Carver’s first formal teacher at the Neosho Colored School. Carver left not long after arriving there, however.

“The story was that Carver was there about six months before he realized his new more than his teacher and then left,” William says. “But as I got more in depth, Frost became more interesting to me.”

Frost had only learned to read and write a few years before teaching in Neosho. He may not have had much formal education himself, but he was doing what he could.

“He was giving back what little he had,” Williams said.

Frost has a connection to present-day Drury, too. He came to Springfield in the late 1870s and became a pastor at the historically black Washington Avenue Baptist Church. That church is now the Diversity Center on campus. He returned to the Neosho Colored School a few years later and finished out his career there, teaching an entire generation of black students in that area.

As for Carver, his “I can” attitude in many ways matches the current push to teach perseverance and “grit” to youth. Researching that arc of achievement led Williamson to admire his subject even more.

“We ought to use George Washington Carver as the prime example of overcoming adversity and being resilient,” he says.

Carver eventually earned two degrees from what is now Iowa State University and was recruited to teach at the Tuskegee Institute in 1896 – the same year the Supreme Court made “separate but equal” the law of the land. He died in 1943, a decade before that precedent was overturned.

“So his entire career was under that shadow,” Williamson said. “It’s really remarkable what he was able to do, even with all the handicapping social conditions he faced.”

Williamson has lectured about his research once already at the Carver Monument and will do so again this November on the Drury campus.

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Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

Drury gifted camps a family tradition for mother and daughter

As a kid, Mandy Long eagerly anticipated the annual summer camps for academically gifted kids at Drury. From the time she was in fourth grade through the end of high school, she spent two weeks living on campus and diving into cool topics like zoology, caves and video editing.

“I was excited for the fun of it all and to be around people who were like-minded,” Long says, “but I was also excited because I got to do things that most students didn’t get to do.”

Mandy Long and her daughter, Callie.

Mandy Long and her daughter, Callie.

Now, as a mother, she’s getting a kick out of seeing the same sense of excitement in her daughter Callie – a second-generation gifted camper. You might call it a family tradition.

Callie, who enters first grade this fall, just wrapped up her second year at Summer Pals, for kids ages Pre-K through first grade. Both Summer Pals and Summer Quest (second through fifth grades) take place at the Springfield Public Schools’ Phelps Center for Gifted Education. Summerscape and Drury Leadership Academy, both for older students, take place on the Drury campus later this month.

Her favorite class last year was “Country Kitchen,” in which the kids learned how to cook foods from countries around the world. This year, it’s “Grossology,” where she’s learned about how eyeballs work, how scabs are formed and toured the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

Callie says she likes spending extended time on one topic.

“(The classes) are fun because they teach me about only a few things for a few days, and in school they teach me about a lot of things for a lot of days,” she says.

Long, who eventually ended up attending Drury in part because it “felt like home” after all those summers, hopes Callie will make memories and friendships similar to her own. She and about 130 other early 1990s Summerscape kids keep in touch through a Facebook group.

“I remember the classes, but it was also the friendships that stuck with me,” Long says.

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Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations.

Drury researcher helps family discover details of service and sacrifice

As Drury’s university archivist, Bill Garvin seeks out the details that make the past come to life. It’s more than a job; it’s a passion – one that can result in information and discoveries that impact real people’s lives in a meaningful way.

About two years ago, Garvin’s research took him to field full of retired aircraft in Vichy, Missouri. He discovered that a particular Douglas C-47 had been flown on D-Day and connected the plane with a pilot from Oklahoma named Lt. Philip Sarrett.

Garvin, who has a deep interest in World War II research, eventually found Sarrett’s family and helped fill in details they’d never known. They revered Philip for his sacrifice but there were unanswered questions.

Lt. Philip Sarrett piloted a Douglas C-47 during WWII.

Lt. Philip Sarrett piloted a Douglas C-47 during World War II.

“An 18×24 (inch) picture had always hung in my bedroom. So I grew up with the photographs, but I never had any detail on much of his life – or how it ended,” says Philip’s niece, Marsha Funk.

Garvin’s research of military records helped Sarrett’s family truly understand his service, and his place in the war. They never even knew that he had piloted an aircraft on D-Day, for example. Sarrett’s assignments often involved flying paratroopers over the battlefields of Europe, behind enemy lines and amid enemy fire.

“We’re now just incredibly blessed to know he had so many successful missions, and so many important ones, too,” Funk says.

Marsha Funk

Marsha Funk

In early 2014, a ceremony was held at the WWII Airborne Demonstration Team Museum in Frederick, Oklahoma, to present Sarrett’s family with the restored control wheel of the C-47, which had been nicknamed “Ada Red.” His sister, Margaret Ray, now in her 90s, accepted it on behalf of the family.

Margaret Ray, Philip Sarrett's sister, accepts a the restored "Ada Red" control wheel. Bill Garvin is at right.

Margaret Ray, Philip Sarrett’s sister, accepts a the restored “Ada Red” control wheel. Bill Garvin is at right.

But that was not the end of the story. Sarrett made the ultimate sacrifice months after D-Day, in spring 1945. Garvin wanted to know more, so he continued digging.

With the help of German researcher Ortwin Nissing, Garvin eventually found the spot where Sarrett had died after the unarmed plane he was piloting was shot down by the Germans.

On March 24, 1945, during Operation Varsity, Sarrett flew the unarmed, unarmored C-47 into an area that was defended by a concentration of 350 Nazi flak positions. Despite the fact that his plane had been hit and was burning, he made sure that his stick of paratroopers exited the aircraft (though one was badly wounded and went down with the plane) and that his entire crew got out.

“The care Philip took to make sure that these men got out of the plane alive meant that he lost his life,” Garvin says. “ ‘Heroic’ is a word that gets tossed around a lot these days, but Philip’s actions were nothing short of that.”

After learning these details, Funk and her husband planned a trip to visit this location on the 70th anniversary of the crash.

The Clostermann diary.

The Clostermann diary.

Once in Germany, they found much more than a point on a map. They found people willing to help fill in the decades-old blanks. Nissing acted as a guide and translated for them. They met Erich Winter, 83, who witnessed the wreckage as a 12-year-old boy, and shared vividly remembered details of what he saw. And they met Ralph Clostermann, whose family has owned the land since the 19th century. He showed them his mother’s diary with descriptions of the day of the crash. She had been living in the basement because British troops were occupying the main floors of the family’s home at the time. She had seen the wreckage, too – and the two crosses erected there by the Brits.

Bullet holes on side of the Clostermann's barn  from the anti-aircraft fire that hit Sarrett's plane. It was never repaired because the owners felt it should remain as a reminder about the war.

Bullet holes on side of the Clostermann’s barn from the anti-aircraft fire that hit Sarrett’s plane were never repaired because the owners felt it should be a reminder of the war.

Though her mother, Philip’s sister, wasn’t able to make the trip, Funk relayed all of these details – and lots of photographs – to her. She wanted to know as much as possible.

“I think maybe it just brought some closure for her – just answering unanswered questions,” Funk says.

It’s been a gratifying process for Garvin.

“I’ve been truly struck by the willingness of complete strangers to help people they don’t know discover what happened to their lost loved ones in the war,” Garvin says.

Without Garvin’s work the family would never have “completed the puzzle,” Funk says.

“We felt a great sense of connectedness,” Funk says. “It’s hugely important to me. It’s helped me keep the story alive and share it with the rest of the family. It’s an important story.”

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Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

Three artists studying at Drury form business partnership

Rebekah Polly, Justin Gault and Adrienne Klotz-Floyd know it can be tough to go it alone as an artist. That’s why the trio has teamed up and housed their three business ventures in a combined space on Commercial Street.

They met as students in Drury’s Summer Institute for Visual Arts (SIVA), a three-summer program offering a master’s degree in studio art and theory. The program is distinct in the Midwest thanks to its rotating slate of visiting artist fellows.

(From left) Polly, Gault and Klotz-Floyd

(From left) Polly, Gault and Klotz-Floyd

The three all had art careers before entering SIVA. While their partnership wasn’t borne directly out of their classwork, they credit the synergistic spirit of the program with helping them not just cross paths but combine efforts.

“It’s because of the program and meeting these two that I can do this,” says Klotz-Floyd, who specializes in streetscape and portrait photography. “I couldn’t have done it on my own. The risk is too great.”

Gault is a painter who specializes in richly textured abstract work. Polly is a former teacher who is now offering a variety of classes. Her business is called Artivities, and that’s the name on the marquee of the building at 209 W. Commercial St.

While all three entities have a distinct identity and purpose, they all benefit creatively and financially from being in a single space. They gain exposure among customers and during events such as art walks. They share overhead costs and worked together to rehab the building before moving in. These are for-profit businesses, not a nonprofit or an art collective.

The SIVA program helped them connect to each other, to other artists in the region and to the visiting artist fellows who are known nationally and internationally. That sense of community – whether in the classroom or on C-Street – has an almost “therapeutic” effect, Polly says. As R.B. Kita famously said, “Art does not exist in a vacuum.”

“It’s an interesting, unique and necessary synergy happening here,” Gault says. “I’ve been looking for this to happen in my life for a long time now.”

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Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

Outstanding Seniors ready to take on the wider world

Parker LiaBraaten and Alaa Al Radwan

Parker LiaBraaten and Alaa Al Radwan

Each year, Drury faculty and staff choose two people from the graduating senior class to honor as the Outstanding Senior Man and Woman of the Year. This annual tradition recognizes two students who demonstrate leadership ability, scholastic achievement, campus involvement and community involvement. The 2015 honorees are architecture grad Alaa Al Radwan and physics grad Parker LiaBraaten. We caught up with them to ask them a few questions before they moved onto the next big phase of their lives.

How do you feel about receiving this honor? 

Alaa: I honestly think that this senior class is one of the most impressive one that has passed through Drury. My opinion might be a little biased, but I think it’s one of the most diverse and is full of leaders that I believe will change the world. It’s a great honor to receive Senior Woman of the Year. I’ve never felt more recognized by an award.

Parker: It means a great deal to me to receive acknowledgement from people I respect. The faculty and staff at Drury are amazing so I feel very honored to have been selected by them.

What was it like to lead the procession during graduation? I know it’s a small thing but also pretty symbolic. 

Alaa: Leading the procession during graduation was unbelievable. I think it’s one of the biggest honors anyone can receive. Carrying our class flag and representing the greatness of this school and the 2015 graduates was pretty amazing. Being one of the few that has had the honor of doing so is even more unbelievable.

How would you sum up your time at Drury?

Alaa: I’ve learned more at Drury than I ever thought I would. I’ve learned more about myself, my interests and what I am capable of doing. Drury does this thing where it encourages its students to do and be more. It encourages students to do everything and be brave doing it. I’ve never felt more capable in my life. At any other school, I wouldn’t have been as involved in so many different things, or developed any of the skills that I have in the past five years.

Parker: I feel that my years at Drury were incredibly useful in preparing me for my future. The Liberal Arts education exposed me to so much, expanding my ideas and viewpoints. I feel I am leaving with a strong foundation of learning to build upon for the rest of my life.

What have you been reflecting upon during the final few days and weeks?

Parker: The last few days I reflected on the many resources the university has to offer, mostly the people. I will miss being surrounded by such creative, passionate, and intelligent people. The professors are so helpful with their knowledge and wisdom. Also, being around driven students encouraged me to be more ambitious.

How did you find the time to be involved in campus and community activities and also excel in the classroom? 

Parker: Passion was vital in finding time to be involved on campus and in the community. If you truly love doing something you will make time for it.

Alaa: When I first started at Drury, I did as much as I could and as much variety as I could. I got involved in everything from political to social groups. As I discovered and learned more about myself, I started focusing on activities that I became more interested in. Really, it’s all about priorities and time management. I found that I spent more time on activities that I felt most passion towards. Drury supports students that want to be involved, and everything I joined and did only made me excel more in the classroom.

What your immediate plans for the future?

Alaa: I’ve actually just recently accepted a research fellowship at the SENSEable city Lab at MIT. So I’ll be moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts, working at a lab and pursuing my future in research eventually working towards a Ph.D. in urban design and hopefully being a professor one day.

Parker: I am splitting my summer up between Seattle and rural Iowa doing mechanical recycling and agricultural work. I am planning on living abroad in New Zealand this fall.

What’s your hope for the Class of 2015? 

Parker: I hope that the Class of 2015 will be kind. They are talented, intelligent, ambitious, and full of potential and I have no doubt they will have success. So, I hope in their success they are kind to others, using their skills to benefit and assist others.

Alaa: I know that the class of 2015 has already made a great difference at Drury and the world and I expect nothing less for our future. Our class is made up of visionary, world-changing leaders and I can’t even imagine what greatness this class will achieve all over the globe.

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