Quote Unquote: Commencement

Quote, unquote is an eclectic sampling of things said at and about Hope College.

As the members of Hope’s graduating Class of 2022 prepared to receive their diplomas and cross the stage into the future, Commencement speaker Dr. Marcus Fila shared one last lesson before they became alumni: “Play the Long Game.”

More than 710 graduating seniors participated in the ceremony, held on Sunday, May 8, at Ray and Sue Smith Stadium.

An associate professor of management, and also this year’s recipient of the Hope Outstanding Professor Educator (H.O.P.E.) Award, Fila encouraged the members of the class to think long-term instead of getting caught up in the immediate.

The short term is alluring, he said, because its costs aren’t immediately apparent. “On any given day the impact may be small; but the accumulation of tiny disadvantages makes the future harder,” he said. “Only when the costs become too large to ignore, do people realize that they have been playing the wrong game.”

In contrast, Fila said, “Playing the long game means paying a small price today to make tomorrow easier, for you, for the people and society around you. You compound results, but this time in a positive way.”

Fila acknowledged that there are times that pressing matters require attention. “There are short-term goals which cannot be ignored,” he said. “For example, day-to-day demands for your classes. At work, there are always pressing goals for today, or even this hour. We can’t always be looking misty-eyed into a future which hopefully awaits us.”

He subsequently presented strategies for thinking instead in the long-term in career, education, faith, and friendships and relationships:

  • to discern calling even while addressing the real and present need for employment;
  • to realize that the benefits of their education will build over time, and to keep learning;
  • to be deliberate in cultivating a relationship with God;
  • and to actively maintain meaningful friendships.

To guide the graduates as they considered what the long game might mean in their lives, Fila also posed a question: “What really irritates you?” The impetus, he said, was an approach to priority-setting that he credited to Hope College President Matthew A. Scogin ’02, who he noted “has a mantra that the place in life you should make a difference is where you see something that irritates you.”

“Think about that aspect of life that irritates you, and how you can make a difference there,” Fila said. “As soon as this commencement ceremony concludes, be the agents of change, and of stability, that this world needs, by playing the long game in life. You won’t regret it, and neither will the world around you.”

The ceremony was preceded by the Baccalaureate services, which were held in Dimnent Memorial Chapel and featured the address “A Proverb for Life” by the Rev. Paul Boersma ’82, who retired at the end of the year as the college’s Leonard and Marjorie Maas Endowed Senior Chaplain.

Boersma based his text on Proverbs 3:27, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” Reflecting on the passage, he said, “It’s a proverb that I believe when lived out, has the power to impact relationships between people regardless of age, gender, race, economic status, political preference or educational background for good.”

“As you go out from this place, and whether you go East, West, North or South, tuck this proverb in your back pocket and use it generously today, tomorrow and throughout the rest of your lives for God’s glory and for His Kingdom to be experienced here on earth as it is in heaven,” he said.