DELAWARE -- Anna Davies of St. Clairsville graduated this spring from Ohio Wesleyan University.

Davies earned a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Keynote speaker and 1966 OWU graduate Diane Y. Petersen, M.D., encouraged the Class of 2019 to "seek and discover your purpose, know what makes your heart sing, and move in that direction."

A retired head-and-neck surgeon, Petersen made history in 1965, when she became the first African American woman in the nation to be initiated into the Delta Delta Delta sorority.

"Of course, a lot has changed since the 1960s, though unfortunately not enough," Petersen told the graduates. "But I'm optimistic that basic human rights like equality, justice, and truth will win over the ignorance, hatred, and bias that people of every age experience around the world. I say this with absolute trust and conviction because you out there in the caps and gowns are moving humanity forward."

Also sharing words of wisdom with the Ohio Wesleyan graduates was Class President Caroline Hamlin of Arlington Heights, Illinois, a double major in environmental studies and geography.

"Going forward," Hamlin said, "leverage what you have learned at Ohio Wesleyan. Be bold in all you do, be kind to all you meet, do your best, and be great!

"Our opportunity to influence the world and create positive change for the well-being of others is in our hands," said Hamlin, who plans to pursue a master's degree in social work. "Don't merely be the revolution, but the reason for the revolution."

President Rock Jones, Ph.D., urged the Class of 2019 to use their OWU educations to improve the world.

"I am grateful for your commitment to the value of building bridges, opening doors, and seeking to listen to and understand those whose life experiences and perspectives are quite different from your own," Jones told the 303 fall, spring, and summer graduates. "Today I encourage you to hold fast to what you have learned here. It will serve you well. And you will serve our world well."

During the May 11 ceremony, the University honored three outstanding faculty members with special awards:

Lynette Carpenter, Ph.D., professor of English, received The Bishop Herbert Welch Meritorious Teaching Award as well as the Adam Poe Medal in recognition of her retirement after 30 years of dedicated service to her students and her profession.

Larry Griffin, D.M.A., professor of music, received The Bishop Herbert Welch Award for Scholarly or Artistic Achievement.

Melanie M. Henderson, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, received The Sherwood Dodge Shankland Award for Encouragement of Teachers.

In addition to Carpenter, Ohio Wesleyan recognized seven additional retiring professors with the Poe Medal, named after the University's founder:

Theodore F. Cohen, Ph.D., a 35-year professor of sociology and anthropology

John Gatz, Ph.D., a 44-year professor of zoology

Gerald Goldstein, Ph.D., a 36-year professor of botany and microbiology

Mary T. Howard, Ph.D., a 34-year professor of sociology and anthropology

Paul E. Kostyu, Ph.D., a 20-year associate professor of journalism

Amy A. McClure, Ph.D., a 40-year professor of education

Alan K. Zaring, Ph.D., a 29-year professor of computer science

President Jones concluded the 175th commencement ceremony with Ohio Wesleyan's traditional benediction, encouraging OWU's newest alumni to share their knowledge and compassion with a world in need.

"If, here at Ohio Wesleyan, you have found freedom, take it with you into the world," Jones said. "If, here at Ohio Wesleyan, you have found peace, go and share it with others. If, here at Ohio Wesleyan, you have found some portion of truth, go and seek it all the more. If, here at Ohio Wesleyan, you have learned to dream dreams, help one another, and those dreams may come true. If, here at Ohio Wesleyan, you have known love, give some back to a hurting and bruised world."

Ohio Wesleyan's complete commencement ceremony will be archived online at www.owu.edu/stream. Learn more about the event at www.owu.edu/commencement.

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation's premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 25 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan's signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book "Colleges That Change Lives" and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review "best colleges" lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.