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Back home, a true honor

Honorees David Gergen and Jen

Gettysburg College has always been a second home to me and to my husband, Neil. We met there, have remained involved there in as many ways as we can, and continue to draw strength from our alma mater’s history, integrity, culture of intellectual curiosity, and most of all—its wonderful people.

On Sunday May 19, it was my privilege to accept an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, from Gettysburg College and to be a part of the graduation ceremony for the class of 2013. With many family members and friends in attendance, we heard a brilliant commencement address delivered by CNN’s senior political analyst David Gergen, who made connections between the Battle of Gettysburg and this year’s graduating class, and dispelled prevailing myths about the millennial generation. Gergen and former ambassador to Nepal Julia C. Bloch also received honorary degrees from Gettysburg College on Sunday.

It’s a day I’ll never forget and for which I’m truly thankful. As often happens when I feel emotionally overwhelmed, lines of poetry will spring to mind, offering comfort and a sense of connection. Such was the case yesterday when I received the Doctoral Hood, saw my family’s faces in the crowd, and hugged President Riggs. The line from Jane Kenyon’s poem “Otherwise” echoed through my consciousness: “It might have been/ otherwise.” —to remind me, I believe, that I was standing there at that time, on that day, for that reason, because of hard work, the willingness to risk, and sheer persistence —yes—but also because of many people who took the time to nurture and to mentor me, and to provide me with opportunities that I otherwise would not have had. For them, I am eternally grateful.

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