Lynn Doyle tells the class of 2011 to be compassionate people first and foremost

May 22, 2011

By Annmarie Ely

May 21 wasn’t the end of the world, but it was the end of college for graduating seniors at Delaware Valley College.

Commencement speaker Lynn Doyle, an accomplished journalist and nine-time Emmy winner who has interviewed Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and former President of Russia Mikhail Gorbachev, made light of the doomsday predictions saying, “If in fact this is the last day on Earth, I couldn’t think of a better place to spend it.”


At the 112th Commencement, more than 400 students were awarded undergraduate degrees, 75 received graduate degrees and two associate degree were earned.

Honorary doctorate degrees were given to Doyle and to former DelVal President George West.

Robert Pierson, a food science, nutrition and management professor, received the distinguished faculty member award for excellence in teaching, his availability to students, and his contributions to the campus.

Doyle is the host and executive producer of “It’s Your Call with Lynn Doyle.” She has more than 30 years of television news experience and covered national presidential elections, presidential inaugurations, the 9-11 tragedy, two wars and the impeachment of a president.


She was humbled when college President Joseph S. Brosnan described her career while awarding her an honorary degree.

She said when she was sitting at her own commencement it never occurred to her that she’d have such a successful career.

She urged DelVal graduates to take as much advice as possible while they are young and to learn from other people’s mistakes.

Then, she took the opportunity not to highlight her many accomplishments, but instead to highlight some of her biggest mistakes so that she could share important lessons with the graduating seniors. She told the Class of 2011 that the kind of person you become matters much more than the career you build.

She said when she met Gorbachev for the interview he was charming and she thought “this is going to be the easiest 60 minutes of my life.”

That was until she found out he wanted to do the interview in Russian.

“Guess who doesn’t speak Russian?” said Doyle. Since she was prepared with a translator, the interview turned out fine.

Another time, came much earlier in high school when as a varsity athlete she approached a newspaper editor demanding to know why women’s sports weren’t being covered.

He replied, “Well little lady because we don’t have anyone to cover them.”

Doyle was hired that day to cover women’s sports. Her father’s first questions was, “How much are you getting paid?”

She’d neglected to ask and it turned out she was getting paid 25 cents an inch.

“Know what you’re getting paid,” she told the seniors.

One of her most important “not so highlights” came when she was newspaper editor, doing whatever she could to make her paper interesting.

No details were off limits for Doyle. She put the facts out there, including specific details about deaths from crime reports, to sell papers.

Circulation tripled, but when a grief stricken woman with swollen eyes came shuffling through her door asking to speak to the editor, she said she got a wake up call.

The woman was the mother of a murder victim. She was angry saying “you told the world what she went through” and “people will remember her as a victim.”

“If I could take back that moment I would,” said Doyle. “I added compassion to my repertoire that day. You are a person first and you need to be a compassionate person.”

2011 Class President Dariyen Carter told the graduating class that DelVal students are anything but typical. He used his speech to point out the types of students that he is proud to have gone to school with.

“DelVal students, despite this tough job market, are being offered jobs even before they are handed their diplomas,” said Carter.

He said that more than a dozen of his classmates are going to vet school. He also highlighted the success of the sports teams, the thousands of dollars that DelVal students have raised for good causes and the continuing education students who work full time jobs while pursuing degrees.

“When we all have said our goodbyes and wiped away the last joyful tears, we will remember the times we’ve shared,” Carter said.

The 2011 Vice President, Jamie Shetzline, asked, “Wasn’t it just yesterday we were confused freshman?”

But she added, “We all will find our way, just like we did on our first day.”

Dr. Brosnan, in his address, said, “As a class you’re extra special to me because we started at the same time…You were newly minted freshmen and I was a newly minted president.”

He said he could not be prouder of the graduating class and talked about individual members, including Paoul Martinez, Nancy Mullen and Daniel J. Harrington.

Martinez knew he wanted to be a veterinarian since second grade, Dr. Brosnan said. His mother always told him, “Work hard now so you don’t have to work so hard later.”

He took her advice challenging himself and taking difficult courses. In the fall, he will start veterinary school at Ohio State.

Mullen is a nontraditional student and the youngest of 15 children. A business owner before entering college, she lost her flower shop after a divorce. When she hit age 50, she asked herself, “Where am I going from here?”

Dr. Brosnan said the answer was DelVal and a degree in counseling psychology. Next fall she will attend West Chester University, seeking a master’s in sociology.

Harrington, a criminal justice major and a wrestler, never intended to go to college but was aggressively recruited by DelVal’s wrestling coach.

In his sophomore year, he injured his neck and back in an auto accident. He had to sit out the season. In his junior year, after six months of rehab, he withstood the constant pain and became an All-American wrestler for the second time.

Dr. Brosnan said success is a complex formula, a combination of the advice you get and the type of person you are.

“The world is yours to conquer and enjoy,” he said. “Go out there and never stop learning. I’m so proud of all of you.”

In receiving his honorary degree, President Emeritus West was recognized for more than 40 years of service to the college, for starting new academic programs and leading DelVal through tough economic times.

After receiving the distinguished faculty member award, Dr. Pierson said, “This could easily have been any of the other faculty members here. It’s a more dedicated group of people than I ever could have imagined…This is home for me. I didn’t find home until I came to DelVal. I love what I do here.”

The personal connections at the college were evident on stage. Instead of the typical handshakes, some students received hugs from faculty and staff,  even the president, after being handed their diplomas.