With each senior now committed to a college home for the fall, we begin a host of year-end ceremonial traditions. The Webb Schools will celebrate the graduation of the Class of 2012 on June 2. Vivian Webb School will commence on Faculty Field at 10:30 a.m. and Webb School of California’s graduation ceremony will take place on the Alamo lawn at 5:00 p.m. News on our year-end activities and our alumni commencement speakers follows below.
VWS End-of-Year Calendar
WSC End-of-Year Calendar
Janel Henriksen Hastings ‘87: Imbuing the value of lifelong learning
Janel Henriksen Hastings ’87 knows college – she’s been there for 15 years.
And she’s bringing her higher education wisdom to this year’s Vivian Webb School commencement.
Hastings, who is president of the Alumni Council and was recently elected to the Board of Trustees, has worked as a strategic planner for various colleges and universities since finishing her two master’s degrees and PhD in 1996. She is currently an assistant vice president for institutional research at Harvey Mudd College.
“I realized when I was doing my undergraduate studies that I loved college,” she said. “I did a lot of work with student organizations and student volunteer work with different departments that dealt with students and it gave me an appreciation for the work that went on behind the scenes in higher education.”
Though she jokes that she “fell into” her profession by accident, Hastings said she enjoys being able to challenge both the right and left sides of her brain and constantly learn from her research, her colleagues and, of course, the students.
“I really enjoy discovering those ‘aha’ moments,” she said.
Hasting said she especially enjoys working with professors to identify the best ways to engage students in their education and ensure they are achieving anticipated learning outcomes.
It’s that dedication to lifelong learning that Hastings has chosen to focus on in her message to this year’s VWS graduates. To highlight the potential each graduate has within her, Hastings will channel the woman behind the institution that gave her a foundation: Vivian Webb herself.
Hastings said she was disappointed to learn that the school has so few stories and traditions about its leading lady, and she hopes to provide a little history as she sends the students beyond Webb’s walls.
“If there had not been a Vivian Webb supporting Thompson Webb in the background, there would have been no Webb school,” Hastings said. “She was basically the backbone to everything that was successful in the early years of Webb.”
Hastings said Webb’s behind the scenes support of the school’s founder was not her only accomplishment. Vivian Webb also stepped outside the norm for women during her time by pursuing a higher education, a show of strength she hopes the VWS graduates will take to heart.
“She did something that was not very common for women at that time,” Hastings said. “I hope that in talking about Vivian Webb that the students will get even a nugget of inspiration to think about how they can live their lives and be unbounded thinkers.”
Rahmi Mowjood ’90 to stress human connection, honor code
For Rahmi Mowjood ‘90, life is all about the sparks that ignite from even the smallest interactions with others.
Whether it’s visiting with an elderly patient at the medical practice he founded with his fellow Webb grads, giving chapel talks at Webb or helping tsunami victims in Sri Lanka, the family physician credits his Webb education for the importance he places on human connection.
“The littlest things we do in life can also mean a lot to people,” he said. “I think when you have those types of experiences and they are amplified in an environment like Webb where you really get an idea of how those things are important, it’s very difficult to … not have that be a part of what you do in life.”
Mowjood, who is a member of the Alumni Council, earned a bachelor’s degree at Claremont McKenna College and a medical degree at Western University of Health Sciences. He said the most powerful aspect of his time at Webb was the honor code – a code that helps him solidify those interpersonal relationships daily.
“Without Webb I don’t think the honor code would be as meaningful to me,” he said. “It played such a significant part in my life as a young man and it definitely colored a lot of my decisions and reinforced a lot of things taught to me by my own faith and my family.”
And for his speech at this year’s commencement, the part-time theater buff who once spent a year studying classical theater in England, hopes he can also convey the importance of making the most of interpersonal relationships.
“I’ve tried to come up with a lot of different topics to give some vision to the graduates about what to expect about life after Webb and then also at the same time give an idea about how your years at Webb impact your life going forward probably in more ways that you will realize,” he said. “That’s a daunting task because it can mean something different to every graduate.”
But if he ever doubts the importance of making connections with everyone from Webb graduates to those people who are seemingly most different from him, he remembers the experience he had donating medical care in his poverty stricken birthplace.
“(Being in Sri Lanka) really opens your eyes to so many things that make us all the same in this world,” he said, “but how things can be so different as well.”