President R. Owen Williams with Poet Nikky Finney, who received an honorary degree, and actor Steve Zahn, the keynote speaker at commencement 2013.
The temperature was in the mid-40s the morning of May 25, but that was just fine with the class of 2013 as they sat in their black caps and gowns soaking up the sunshine on Old Morrison lawn during their commencement ceremony.
President R. Owen Williams conferred the bachelor of arts degree on the 222 graduates, actor Steve Zahn delivered the keynote address, Hannah Johnson ’13 was the student speaker, and poet Nikky Finney received an honorary degree.
Zahn, a Lexington resident who has appeared in movies including Reality Bites, That Thing You Do!, You’ve Got Mail, and Riding in Cars with Boys, advised the graduates to take the back roads, where you have to go slowly. “Don’t be in such a
hurry to get where you think you’re supposed to be, because you’ll run the risk of missing the real opportunity,” he said.
Johnson, a Lexington native and political science major with minors in communication and Spanish, drew attention to “first world problems”—the trivial inconveniences experienced only by privileged individuals in wealthy countries. She urged her classmates to direct their energy away from these and toward solving real world problems. “We have developed the skills and the drive to not only seek a solution, but to be the solution,” she said.
Finney is an award-winning poet whose work speaks of family and politics, violence and compassion, the experiences of black America, and of diverse sexualities. A professor of English and creative writing at the University of Kentucky, she will begin her new role as the John H. Bennett Jr. Chair in Creative Writing and Southern Literature at the University of South Carolina in August.
See a few graduates and their plans for life after graduation.
Current and former Transylvania students gather to congratulate Jessica Obi on her graduation. From left, Chauncey Morton '12, Chris Beal '12, Jessica Obi '13, Justin Bullock '15, Kennedy Barnes '12, Quanta Taylor '12, and Malcolm Hodge '14.