College Commencement 2006
Approximately 100 graduates received their degrees at the Stephens Commencement ceremony on May 6 in the John and Mary Silverthorne Arena.
2006 Commencement photos
Funk '58, keynote speaker and honorary degree recipient
Wally Funk '58, a pilot who has logged more than 17,000 hours in the air and soloed more than 900 students as a flight instructor. Funk of Roanoke, Texas, participated in the "Women in Space" female astronaut-testing program in 1961, beating U.S. astronaut John Glenn in many of the tests. NASA canceled the Mercury 13 program later that same year, and Funk never went up in space. She became the first female Federal Aviation Administration inspector and an air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board. In 2008, she will achieve her dream and become the first female U.S. civilian to travel into space with Space Adventures. Funk has trained at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia.
Excerpts from speech (download MP3 audio):
"My dream came true of flight when I came here to Stephens, and it's going to come true to you for your endeavors."
"I was taught by my family that failure is not an option."
"My confidence, experience and knowledge were all the tools that I had all these years to teach flying, to be an investigator. I've done over 450 accidents investigating. It's been a great ride. I've flown everything there is to fly..."
"When NASA got really interested in us (Mercury 13), I filled out many forms to go on to the national. And they said, 'Oh Wally, now, we'll take you, but you need to be either a doctor or an engineer, and we'll give you nine months to do it.' That didn't fly away."
"You have to remember one thing. The only thing a woman needs to compete in a man's world is ability."
Pictured: Wally Funk with Stephens College President Wendy B. Libby.
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Janeé Jones and Megan Larsen, undergraduate program representatives
Jones of Grandview, Mo., who graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in Law, Philosophy & Rhetoric degree, will teach elementary school through Teach for America in Mississippi before attending law school. Larsen of Lawrence, Kan., who earnd a B.S. in Mass Media: Broadcasting, plans a move to Los Angeles, where she will pursue a career in broadcasting and film.
Pictured: 2006 Stephens College graduates Megan Larsen and Janeé Jones
Jones: The mission statement of Stephens College says that its graduates will be “career-ready women of distinction… confident in themselves, and inspired by our tradition of the ten ideals as core values that enrich women’s lives.” As we sit here today, we are this statement in action. For the past few years we never thought this day would come. We prayed for it, crossed off our calendars, counted hours, minutes, and seconds and now that it’s here, I’m sorry it is because it means leaving Stephens behind. Leaving this school and the people that have challenged us all to strive for greatness, to make a difference, to accept nothing less than excellence.
Larsen: Here we are guys! We’ve mastered the art of college. We’ve learned how to stretch our wardrobes to avoid doing laundry. We’ve discovered the right amount of caffeine it takes to function with no sleep. We’ve fought exhaustion and lived on chocolate, red bull and pizza. We’ve juggled work, school and whatever social life we could fit in. We’ve cried, we’ve laughed, we’ve sweated and we’ve toiled and we’ve bonded these past years. It all culminates today.
Jones: In a few moments we will walk across the stage and capture that elusive degree. We will grab our tassels and move them to the other side of our Mortar Boards, signaling our change in status from mere students-to college graduates. But even as we leave today, as we say goodbye to the professors that have alternatively encouraged and inspired us. Even as we hug our friends, look around campus for one last time and head off in different directions, we will carry Stephens College with us. It has finally happened. We have become Stephens women. Women of strength and courage. Women of distinction. Here we have learned not only how we dream, but also how to turn those dreams into reality.
Larsen: Some of you have watched your dreams float down the runway, others have choreographed their own original pieces, and some have made their final bow on a stage that can boast the likes of Annie Potts. While others of us have taught in classrooms around Columbia, written our senior theses and defended our views against opposition. Some have traveled across the country to direct their own film and others have created and pitched their own business. Some have written and recited their own poetry. We’ve taken different paths, but we will all take the lessons we’ve learned here and give birth to the most amazing dreams.
Jones: Henry David Thoreau once said, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is were they should be. Now put the foundation under them.” Today, we lay the cornerstone in our dreams. We have taken that first step and are that much closer because of it. We have learned to never give up, to never second-guess ourselves, to never allow others to define us, to never stop believing. It’s up to us now. We have been guided along the path and greatness lies ahead. But only if we reach out and grab it.
Larsen: Today we join the illustrious group
of Stephens women and the legacy lives on through us.
So congratulations class of 2006 we have become Stephens stars now shoot for the moon!
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Division of Graduate and Continuing Studies representative
Murphy-Kalaitzandonakes of Columbia, Mo., received a Master of Business Administration.
President Libby, members of the faculty, parents, guests, and most importantly today, fellow graduates.
Before I begin my "education story," I’d like to thank my son, Yorgo, my daughter, Maria, and my husband, Nicholas, for their encouragement, constant support, and love. (and for missing a soccer game to be here!)
My education story…
I tried once before to get my MBA back in 1986, but with a job at a Fortune 500 company that provided tuition reimbursement, being single and having no children to raise- I found it "‘too hard." So instead, I waited until I was working full time at Stephens, was married and had two small children to try it again.
Stephens employees were and are able to take classes for free, this seemed like "a second golden opportunity" to get my master's! A number of Stephens people encouraged me to pursue a degree-Deb Duren and Alan Havig-among others. Four classes later, and with growing time demands in my personal life, I left my position at Stephens to work part time for an investment management company. I chose to continue my education at Stephens even though it would now be a "full pay" situation. I remember sitting down and talking about continuing my degree-about the time commitment-and about paying "out of pocket"’ for education. I wasn’t sure this was something that would "pay back" in my situation.
But, as it turns out, the MBA program at Stephens was an excellent fit for the family and for me. The online classes allowed me the freedom I needed with two small children and a busy life. I liked doing something just for me. But the most important reason for pursuing, continuing and finishing my degree is that deep down I value education. I value a quest for knowledge as a way to improve the world that we all live in. It’s not about the MBA, it’s about believing an open mind is of value. That being exposed to other ideas and ways of thinking is worth the effort.
Eventually we get to 2006 almost 20 years after I first attempted getting my master's, and I am graduating along with all of you. I want to say what a special place Stephens will always have in my heart as I (as we) move through life’s challenges.
In closing, enjoy your "real world" lives and please always find ways to make continuing your education a part of your life. Congratulations to all of you for your great achievement.