Trigiani Challenges Graduates to To Be of These Hills

Posted by Rachael Wilbur

Speaking to 228 Emory & Henry College graduates Saturday, May 5, award winning author Adriana Trigiani challenged students to embrace the big questions in life and use the knowledge they have learned during their time at E&H to seek their own truth.

Trigiani spoke of her pride growing up in Big Stone Gap, Va. A place she would later make famous with her best-selling series and movie of the same name. She shared with graduates that to be Appalachian and to have had the Appalachian experience is the same. She reminded them that this means you never know a stranger, you lead with kindness, you follow up with gratitude, you say what you mean, you do what you say, you are a person of integrity, your handshake is your bond, and you honor the land.

“You must get up, rise up, and focus and when somebody asks where you went to college, you stand tall and say- Emory & Henry- in the prosperous, life giving, music shaking, soul quaking, intellect making hills of southwest Virginia in Appalachia where America found her voice because unto these hills, through them, and over them came YOU,” said Trigiani.

Trigiani authored the best-selling Big Stone Gap series, including Big Stone Gap (2000), Big Cherry Holler (2001), Milk Glass Moon (2002) and Home to Big Stone Gap (2006), set in her Virginia hometown. Big Stone Gap was adapted into a movie and released in October 2015. The story focuses on family secrets and self-discovery in an Appalachian coal-mining town of the late 1970s. The award-winning ensemble cast included Ashley Judd, Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Krakowski, Jenna Elfman, and Patrick Wilson.

Also addressing graduating E&H students was B.G. Loper, chemistry major from Dunbar, W. Va., who delivered the senior oration and reflected on the connections he was able to make during his time at the college.

“There are always connections back to this place and its amazing opportunities,” Loper shared. “This school has earned the privilege to be in the top 40 colleges that changes lives. By your being here and earning that coveted status of alumni, you join the ranks of a vast network including an astronaut, members of Congress, the CEO of the American Cancer Society, and many more.”

Delivering the master’s oration, Cory Blevins of Marion, Va., who received a master’s degree in education, spoke of the idea that “the good, the right and the just are always worth fighting for.”

“Emory & Henry College has helped educate us to fight that darkness, and has prepared us for when we face it more directly,” said Blevins.

Special awards were also bestowed upon six undergraduates. They include Leah Elswick of Raven, Va. and Jake Caudill of Meadowview, Va., who received the Outstanding Senior Awards; B.G. Loper of Dunbar, W. Va. who received the Senior Service Award; Sean Collier of Marion, Va., who received the Byars Medal in Science; Holly Roth of Germantown, Tenn., who received the Eleanor Gibson Via Science Award for Women; and Jacob Dye of Swords Creek, Va., who won the Snavely Senior Scholarship Prize for having the highest academic average.

 

Where Are They Going Next?:

Amber Robinson - teaching in Wise County

Sean Collier - Penn State, acoustics

Emily McCraw - accompanying the Summer Barter Youth Academy, then opening her own piano teaching studio in Abingdon in the fall

Holly Roth - Colorado State, chemistry

Jacob Dye - Duke University, divinity

Derrick Boardwine - summer internship in DC with BDO accounting, William and Mary, accounting

Anna Bondy - Virginia Tech, accountancy & information systems

Michael LoGrande – commissioned as an officer in Marine Corps on Saturday afternoon, May 5

Josh Macek – at the FDIC as a Financial Institution Specialist

  • Adriana Trigiani speaks at Emory & Henry's Commencement ceremony.
    Adriana Trigiani speaks at Emory & Henry's Commencement ceremony.
    David Grace

Location:

King Health and Physical Education Center

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