Seeds of hope and love – Commencement

President Manickam delivers the 2020 commencement address.

The community of Hesston College gathered virtually May 23 to celebrate and recognize the accomplishments of the class of 2020. The video ceremony featured music by Bel Canto Singers, graduate speeches by Ian Lecki (Overland Park, Kan.) and Macey Murray (Denver, Colo.), a commencement address by President Joe Manickam and photos from the last two years and well wishes from faculty and staff.

Lecki reflected on the joys and challenges of his friendships and interactions with students, faculty and staff – “Hesston taught me that no matter what, someone always had my back,” and invited his classmates to “remember these things. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Life is not always fair. You have to move forward. Don’t be afraid to fail often. Be curious. Take risks. Step up when times are tough and never ever give up.”

Murray remembered nervously arriving on campus on a humid summer day and, in the opening weeks, wanting to return home but soon learning to love a lot about Hesston. “These memories can never attest to the amount of joy I had at Hesston. I’ve learned to love a lot…. I’ve fallen in love with memories I never thought I would even consider missing. I fell in love with people I would have never known. I’m sure the class of 2020 already knows the amount of love that we received here at Hesston. Congratulations to the class of 2020. Hesston, you will be missed.”

President Manickam addressed graduates incorporating the parable of the mustard seed in the Gospel of Mark, Hesston’s 2019-20 theme verse, and offering words of hope.

“It is my hope that when you were here on campus, as you interacted with other sisters and brothers from around the world and across this country, you would have experienced what the kingdom of God is like,” Manickam said. “Because…on this campus, there was something that took place that reflected the kingdom of God and it was this: people who are not supposed to get along with each other, people who are not supposed to eat with each other, people who are not supposed to walk into each other’s neighborhood did that right here on this campus.

“That’s what the kingdom of God is about, sisters and brothers,” Manickam continued, “and that’s the hope that I pray was planted in your heart and in your being. My challenge for you, sisters and brothers, is that you take that seed of hope with you and plant it elsewhere because this world needs it, sisters and brothers. This world needs hope.”

The 122 members of the class of 2020 include 44 with bachelor of science in nursing degrees and 78 associate degree graduates. Students came from 17 U.S. states and territories and Albania, the Bahamas, Canada, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Honduras and Japan. Eighteen class members earned places on the Dean’s List with grade point averages of 3.9 or higher.

Watch the commencement service at and LarkFest, the college’s annual academic awards program, at

Dining Services Office Manager Lori Dreier assists the alumni office to pack and mail Class of 2020 mugs (inset) to graduates.
Dining Services Office Manager Lori Dreier assists the alumni office to pack and mail Class of 2020 mugs (inset) to graduates.