Roche urges grads to pass along love they have received are 'Remember Shortly after receiving her diploma, Penny Decker of Vermillion's Class of 2002 had to examine the contents of the envelope she received from School Board President Tom Craig. by David Lias Michael Roche, professor of political science at The University of South Dakota, used symbolism and several literary references in his message to Vermillion's graduating seniors Sunday afternoon.
The most important portion of his talk, given during commencement exercises in Slagle Auditorium, was reserved to its end, when Roche spoke not from written notes but simply from his heart.
"Wherever you go from here ? what I really want you to remember about this afternoon is the incredible amount of love there is in this room for each and every one of you right now," he said.
Sunday naturally was a time to honor the Class of 2002 for achieving their goal of completing their high school education. "Today, you're being honored for doing something very special," Roche said. "But before you did anything in the world, there were people in this room who loved you with all of their hearts and souls.
"Soak up that love," Roche said, "and pass it along."
He told the graduates that they will "soar like eagles" during their lives, and, in fact, Sunday was a time when each class member was taking flight. But, he said, suffering is part of the human condition, and it is impossible to avoid.
"There are going to be plenty of times when the sky is not blue and the sun is not shining, but instead it will be stormy and you're getting tossed around like a little sparrow caught in a tornado. Sometimes you get slammed hard to the ground.
"Listen to me now. Perhaps the most important question in life is: 'How are you going to respond to the storms, to the suffering that comes along in your life?'" Roche said.
He said there are many unhealthy ways to respond to suffering. Roche told grads to take on suffering, to take responsibility and to learn to let go.
"The simplest way to put it is our pain is our work," he said. "In life, pain and suffering will come along and your assignment is to see if you can respond like a spiritual warrior."