Commencement

 

column-trinity

Abundant gratitude and a new beginning

Submitted photo. Dr. Elizabeth Rudenga, current provost and newly appointed interim president of Trinity Christian College, discusses the upcoming presidential transition with Dr. Steve Timmermans, president of the college for the past 11 years. Timmermans has been nominated to be the next executive director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. The transition becomes effective June 1.Submitted photo. Dr. Elizabeth Rudenga, current provost and newly appointed interim president of Trinity Christian College, discusses the upcoming presidential transition with Dr. Steve Timmermans, president of the college for the past 11 years. Timmermans has been nominated to be the next executive director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. The transition becomes effective June 1.The season of commencement has begun. High school or college, this is the season for celebrating the accomplishments of graduates.

We think of these graduation ceremonies as conclusions—endings of four years of study. But commencement means beginning. Thus, while there’s much to reflect upon over the past number of years, these ceremonies signal new beginnings.

I’ve been to a great number of commencements—a few for my own graduations, a bit more for my children, and even more as part of the platform party for Trinity commencement ceremonies. Most often, the feedback from parents focuses on the mix of formality and joy. Trumpets, organ, robes, and processions signal the importance of the day. Applause, shout-outs, and near-dance steps across the platform are sure signs of the joy experienced by graduates and their friends and family members.

That mix of formality and joy is appropriate for the beginnings each commencement marks. The journey ahead requires paying attention to procedure and protocol. Applying for graduate school? The application must be complete in every way. Going to a job interview? Wear a suit and remember your manners. And don’t forget to write thank you notes to aunts and uncles, friends of your parents, and anyone else who has provided you a check or gift card. That’s the formal side of beginning well.

The joy at commencement is spontaneous, often unbridled. But an emotion on the heels of graduate joy is often anxiety. The overwhelming emotion of completion is swept away by the anxieties facing the graduate who is about to begin anew, stepping forward into new settings, experiences, and groups.

As I pen the words for this, my last column, I realize I’m commencing, too! I’ve concluded 11 years “in college,” and there’s much to reflect upon. As the semester ends at Trinity, there are moments that allow such reflection—and the accompanying mix of formality and joy. I’m passing the baton to Trinity Provost Liz Rudenga, Trinity’s interim president. There are protocols and policies that guide this transition, and there’s some joy as well, knowing that I leave Trinity in Dr. Rudenga’s thoroughly competent hands.

The joy, though, turns to anxiety as I consider moving our family from Palos Heights to Grand Rapids, Mich. Anxiety enters, too, as I think about leaving the role presidential role that has been energizing and fulfilling and step into a role that, for me, holds much uncertainty and requires new learning.

But rather than being overcome by anxiety, I’ll follow my own advice: the journey ahead requires paying attention to procedure and protocol…and I won’t forget the thank you notes. In fact, this concluding column provides an opportunity for saying thanks. Thank you, community leaders, neighbors, and friends—too numerous to mention—for providing me and Trinity Christian College a place to call home. Thank you to The Regional, and especially Amy Richards, the accomplished owner of Regional Publishing and Jack Murray, the fine editor whose intelligence and wit I’ve enjoyed over so many years. For including me in your publication these many years has evidenced gracious hospitality. And thank you to those who have read these columns. I hope my words have encouraged you and strengthened our community.

I look forward to returning occasionally to Palos, as my son will be attending Trinity as a freshman in the fall. Barb and I will enjoy continuing our roles as Trinity parents!

Trinity and the wonderful friends and colleagues I’ve come to know in Palos and the surrounding areas will always have a special place in my heart.

Dr. Steven Timmermans ends his tenure as president of Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights this week. This is his final column. We wish him all the best; may God bless him and all of his family as he begins his next calling. 

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