STAUNTON -- Virginia Circuit Judge Pamela Baskervill recalled her emotions on Sunday of graduating from Mary Baldwin College 38 years ago.
She said as she prepared to enter to the T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond, she wondered "what I was to do.'' But Baskervill said she found some basic principles guided her journey. She was a practicing attorney for more than two decades, and has served as circuit judge in Virginia's 11th Circuit for more than a decade.
"Find your driving force,'' said Baskervill, who said the opportunites could include her field of public safety, or health. She told the 360 graduates at Mary Baldwin's 171st commencement they could also make the world more beautiful by creating art or music.
Speaking of the challenges the students will face, Baskervill said achieving a driving force "will play out in ways you won't anticipate." Baskervill said her own outreach to feeding the homeless included taking her own children along for the work.
And Baskervill spoke the fear students will likely encounter in life. "You will find what you are made of,'' she said. She said fear can be a positive, and can be overcome.
"If your heart is on fire, you will have the courage to face fears,'' she said. Baskerville recalled being a student at Mary Baldwin, saying her freshman English professor taught her to communicate clearly. She said the friends she made nearly four decades ago have stood by her.
And she said the college taught her to think independently. "I learned how to acquire information to form my own opinions,'' she said.
Mary Baldwin President Pamela Fox spoke of the different routes many of Sunday's graduates took to receiving their degrees.
She said some "came as the first in their family to graduate.'' Fox said others came during the middle of their careers. A passion for teaching or Shakespeare attracted others to the Staunton college, Fox said.
The college's awarding of honors include a posthumous one to the late Brenda Bryant, who died last year. Bryant was given the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Non-Student Award for her public service. She was the founding director of Mary Baldwin's Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership program in 1995. Bryant later served as a senior vice president and dean of students.
Fox said Bryant had started several initiative that will shape Mary Baldwin for decades. She said Bryant provided pragmatic leadership to the college and offered "a luminous smile when she truly meant it."