Commencement honors more than 900 grads

Students encouraged to ‘get wisdom’


Fall 2012

More than 900 students participated in Calvin’s 2012 Commencement ceremony, held in May in Van Noord Arena. The college awarded its first bachelor's degrees 91 years ago to a class of just eight men.

Cornelius Plantinga Jr., who served as president of Calvin Theological Seminary from 2002 to 2011, delivered the Commencement address, “Whatever You Get, Get Wisdom.”

In addressing the graduates he said, “You have received a stellar education from this place; you can’t lose it, you can’t outlive it and you won’t forget it …, but you can waste your superb Calvin College education if you don’t build on it.”

Plantinga, who is also the seminary’s Charles W. Colson Professor of Theology emeritus, encouraged listeners to be attentive and discerning in life: “The wise are people who know human life, have a knack for living it; they understand something of God and God’s world and how to fit into it. The wise are discerning; they pick up on stuff. … The wise learn a lot simply by being attentive.

“Delight in those around you, follow progress in the sciences …, if you have children, read to them … and the Bible, study this; people who do tend to become wise.”

In addition, Ilga Svechs ’58 and John Booy ’74 received Distinguished Alumni Awards from the Calvin Alumni Association (see sidebar).

Svechs of Cleveland, Ohio, is a professor at Case Western University and a psychotherapist. As a young girl, Svechs and her family were taken from their home in Riga, Latvia, and sent to a Nazi detention camp. The family was eventually sponsored by a Michigan family, and Svechs enrolled at Calvin, graduating with a degree in sociology. The Latvian government bestowed the “Cross of Recognition” upon Svechs for her work in establishing social work, social ethics and human development course work and expertise in her home country of Latvia.

Booy, of Grand Rapids, Mich., is the superintendent of Potter’s House Christian School. Booy founded the innovative Christian urban school in 1981, while he was still a teacher in the Grand Rapids Public Schools system. Potter’s House now serves a diverse student body of 530 pre-K through 12th-grade students. Booy is active in national conversations about urban education.