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Dave Mitchell, left, a professor at Dakota Wesleyan University, accepts an honorary doctorate on behalf of his late wife, Ann Mitchell. DWU President Amy Novak, right, awarded the honorary doctorate at DWU's commencement ceremony Saturday at the Corn Palace. Ann Mitchell taught children's literature at DWU from 1973 to 2001. She died in 2012 after a six-year battle with cancer.(Chris Mueller/Republic)

DWU graduates told to prepare for opportunities

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News Mitchell,South Dakota 57301
The Daily Republic
DWU graduates told to prepare for opportunities
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

Before this year's Dakota Wesleyan University graduates crossed the stage and received their degrees Saturday at the Corn Palace, they were told to be ready for the opportunities that await them after graduation.


Terry Grindstaff, a 1999 graduate of DWU, gave the commencement address to the 209 graduates who received degrees at Saturday's graduation ceremony. Grindstaff is now an assistant professor at the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.

"I firmly believe that preparation helps you best recognize opportunity," Grindstaff said. "You don't want to miss an opportunity because you weren't prepared."

Grindstaff asked the graduates to take a moment during the ceremony to think of all the people who helped them reach graduation and, later, to share that appreciation.

"I think the thing to realize is we don't operate in isolation," he said. "There are a number of people who contribute to our personal and professional successes."

Grindstaff told the graduates to pursue something they are passionate about and to set goals for the future.

"If you have an idea of where you want to end up, it gives you a sense of direction," he said. "It helps you develop a plan to get there."

Then, Grindstaff told the graduates to surround themselves with good people who will help guide them toward accomplishing those goals.

"Personal success doesn't really occur without assistance," he said. "I think too often we don't fully appreciate or understand what we're capable of achieving."

Also at Saturday's ceremony, DWU President Amy Novak posthumously awarded an honorary doctorate to Ann Mitchell, who taught children's literature at DWU from 1973 to 2001. Mitchell died in 2012 after a six-year battle with cancer. Mitchell's husband, Dave Mitchell, a professor at DWU, accepted the doctorate on his wife's behalf.

A sculpture was dedicated in honor of Dave and Ann Mitchell at a separate ceremony on Saturday at the McGovern Library on DWU's campus in Mitchell.

John Husmann, an associate professor of history at DWU, was awarded the Clarke Award for Teaching Excellence at Saturday's graduation ceremony.

Husmann has been a member of the faculty at DWU since 2004 and currently serves as the chairman of the school's history department.

"Since his arrival over 10 years ago, Dr. John Humann's leadership of the history program led to growth of the major, explicit inclusion of new requirements for history education teachers and a commitment to helping every student appreciate how the past informs our future," said DWU Provost Rocky Von Eye in a news release.

Kelli Swenson, one of Saturday's graduates, received the Bishop Armstrong Peace and Justice Award during DWU's Baccalaureate service Saturday, prior to the graduation ceremony. The award, presented each year, is given to "students or staff whose life has demonstrated the relationship between religious faith and issues of peace and justice," according to a news release.

Swenson, of Chamberlain, was a double major in business administration and leadership and public service, with a concentration in policy communication. Swenson was also president of the Student Senate, a member of the Student Ministry Council and a four-year member of the dean's list, among other honors. In April, she was named this year's Miss Wesleyan.