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Pro baseball player Jake Goebbert addresses Judson’s fall graduates

OaklAthletics Triple-A Outfielder Jacob “Jake” Goebbert was keynote speaker Saturday JudsUniversity commencement ceremonies. | Phocourtesy JudsUniversity

Oakland Athletics Triple-A Outfielder Jacob “Jake” Goebbert was the keynote speaker Saturday at Judson University commencement ceremonies. | Photo courtesy Judson University

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Updated: January 18, 2014 6:08AM

ELGIN — Judson University celebrated more than 120 graduates at its 70th commencement Saturday. The Christian liberal arts and sciences university held a commencement for graduates of the School of Art, Design and Architecture and the School of Leadership and Business, and another for graduates of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of Education.

Oakland Athletics Triple-A Outfielder Jacob “Jake” Goebbert was the keynote speaker for both ceremonies. Goebbert, who has a lifelong connection with Goebbert’s Farm in Hampshire, congratulated the graduates for their many achievements but suggested that perhaps their failures shape them more than their successes, according to a release from Judson.

As a Christian, Goebbert encouraged graduates to rely on the Lord during those difficult times of failure or temptations. He also encouraged them to see themselves as more than the jobs they will soon obtain, saying that baseball is what he does but not who he is as an individual, the release said.

Goebbert described how the last year has been difficult for him as he was traded and dealt with many changes and self-doubts. He quoted Michael Jordan’s reflection that he has failed over and over, noting that it takes perseverance and determination to continue to work toward one’s goals.

Despite his personal challenges, Goebbert says he is looking to the future and that his choices have helped him. He encouraged graduates to not be selfish, indecisive or look back with regret at choices they have made, but to see the power of opportunities as they make choices.

“It is our choices that show who we are far more than our abilities,” he said. He encouraged graduates to choose to be exceptional, to persevere, to expect respect from others, and to trust in the Lord with all one has.

Several graduates were honored with awards in academic excellence and campus leadership at their respective ceremonies. Accounting major Shannon Thomas of Mantua, Ohio, was honored with the President’s Scholar Award, which recognizes graduating seniors who have demonstrated distinguished academic achievement in the context of a Christian liberal arts program.

Masters of Organizational Leadership graduate Keri Reed of Chicago received the Ames Award, which recognizes a student from Judson’s School of Leadership and Business who demonstrates leadership potential to impact their organization and their world in a positive manner.

Human Services graduate Nancy Herrera-Cheng of St. Charles was honored with the Student Service Award, which recognizes the graduating senior who has best exemplified sincerity in dedication to Christ, achievement in academic pursuit, and promotion of Judson University ideals.

Master of Education in Literacy graduate Kirsten Andler of Cary received the Road to Damascus Award.

Also, the family of Matt Porter received an honorary bachelor of arts degree in Human Services in memory of Matt, who died on Oct. 10. Porter was a strong student, earning dean’s list honors. His family was presented with honorary diplomas, academic honor cords and a cap, the release said.

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