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The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

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Stories Hold Weight, Professor Says at Winter Commencement

Dr.+Rachael+Peckham+delivered+the+keynote+address+at+the+Winter+2023+Commencement+Ceremony.
Alex Cooksey
Dr. Rachael Peckham delivered the keynote address at the Winter 2023 Commencement Ceremony.

Over 500 sons and daughters of Marshall received their degrees at the University’s Winter Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 9, at the Mountain Health Arena.

The ceremony celebrated students earning associates, bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees. 

English professor Dr. Rachael Peckham gave the keynote address at the ceremony. She is the recipient of the 2022-2023 Hedrick Outstanding Faculty Award.

Peckham shared a personal story concerning her family with the audience. After the loss of three family members in a plane crash, she admitted that she has a fear of flying.She described that tragedy within her family as having played a big part in her life and her career. 

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Much like her own, Peckham said that the power of someone’s story should not be taken lightly.

“After 21 years of teaching memoir and autobiography,” she said, “I have yet to find a more powerful tool for creating empathy and understanding—the cornerstones of caring.”

Peckham also expressed the importance of sharing these stories, thanking her parents for supplying a caring community—one that she said allows a person to “fly again.”

Closing out her address, Peckham said that the graduates should take what Marshall has given them and disperse it into the world. 

“It’s this university’s promise to you that you belong, that you are cared for and cherished,” she said. “It’s your responsibility now to live into that promise: spreading that sense of belonging and caring to others in your communities and professions.” 

Among Peckham were other University leaders, including President Brad D. Smith, Provost Dr. Avinandan Mukherjee and Student Body President Walker Tatum.

West Virginia State Senator Joe Manchin also attended the ceremony.

Following Peckam’s address—and notes from Smith, Tatum and Manchin—the graduates walked across the stage and received the degrees they’d earned.

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