“You can make the world a better place.”
With that one sentence, activist and Boise State University alumna Marilyn Shuler (M.A., public administration, 1978) summed up the hope and potential of the 1,637 graduates who participated in Saturday’s Commencement ceremony.
Few people could say such a thing with more authority. As the former director of the Idaho Human Rights Commission, Marilyn’s life work has been making the world a better place. She co-founded, built and promoted the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial just across the Boise River from campus and is a founding member of the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment. She was involved in or led the development of the Idaho Black History Museum, the Peaceful Settlements Foundation and the John Shuler Fund at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare in support of foster care.
And on Saturday, to recognize her remarkable accomplishments and hold her example high for its more than 75,000 living graduates, Boise State presented her with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Her address to a packed Taco Bell Arena was an inspiration.
It was a record-setting day, with more new graduates participating and more doctoral degree candidates receiving Ph.D.s and Ed.D.s (16 in all) than ever before. And if past trends remain true, nearly 70 percent of them will stay in Idaho to live, work and shape our state’s future – just as Marilyn did.
If anyone represents a new graduate’s potential for changing the world, it is Jamie Lundergreen, who served as the student speaker on Saturday. President of the Honors Student Association and deeply involved in campus life, Jamie graduated with a dual bachelor’s degree in Spanish and psychology and plans to go into international education. I’m sure her future students will benefit from her talents.
Saturday’s ceremony was an exciting look into the possibilities awaiting our newest alumni and the direction of this university. Boise State awards more than 40 percent of all public university bachelor’s degrees in Idaho and each person who holds one of those degrees has the potential to do great things. Each of them was a student at Boise State for just a few short years. But they will all, like those who came before them, be a Bronco for Life. And every time they succeed, their alma mater succeeds.
Laura C. Simic is vice president for advancement at Boise State University.