The graduating student body at Ave Maria College were moved and inspired during their commencement ceremony on May 5, 2018. The students were treated to a speech from the education secretary. Secretary Betsy DeVos referenced Mother Teresa, Pope Saint John Paul II, Jesus, Pope Benedict XLI, and the teachings from God. The 230 students gave the Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos a standing ovation following her 20 minute or so speech.
One of her main focuses during her speech was about service. DeVos referenced service as her motivation to serve students as secretary of Education. She stated: “The world promises you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”
The majority of students at the Catholic college said that they were happy with the speech from Betsy DeVos. The students pleased with her appearance and speech at their commencement called the speech motivational and inspiring.
A small group of students were unhappy about DeVos giving the speech. Thirty-six students at the college wrote a letter against the values of Betsy DeVos that they feel are not of the same values at the college and that the decision to have her speak is a politically partisan move by the college. Another group of around one hundred students wrote another letter in contrast to that which praised Ave Maria College admin’s decision to have DeVos as the speaker. Their letter stated that the college is supposed to be an open minded college that can host a variety of speakers with various values. They also said someone with such a high profile politically as DeVos gives their college and Catholic colleges more attention, which is a good thing.
Betsy DeVos has created division in the minds of colleges and schools across the nation. A good amount of the division towards her has to do with assumptions about her upbringing, life, and her personality. DeVos is seen as someone who can’t understand the issues within the education system by some citizens. However, DeVos has long been aware of the lack of opportunity for students who could achieve far more in different types of schools. When her kids were young she visited other Christian schools in the area that had students who were from poorer upbringings and didn’t have as many opportunities as her children. Her husband -Dick- and Betsy created scholarships and started pushing for voucher systems in their home state of Michigan. DeVos has also been assumed to be too polite to stay true to her politics, even if it differentiates from the Trump administration. DeVos has voiced her differing stances since she has been a part of the Trump administration. Assuming is not enough. Learning and listening more to a person’s life work is the only way to learn more about them. The Ave Maria students showed this, even the few who didn’t know much about DeVos or were of a different opinion to her. They were able to listen to her speech and learn something from her.
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