Even in a tough economy, new graduates should be picky about whom they work for, said veteran journalist John S. Carroll, who delivered the commencement address at Transylvania University Saturday.
"Choose your boss even more carefully than your boss chooses you," said Carroll, a former editor of the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and the Herald-Leader. "A bad workplace is more likely to change you than you are to change it."
Times are tough, but "chances will come," he said.
The advice was one of five life lessons from the working world offered by Carroll, who serves on Transylvania's board of trustees.
He also urged the graduates to seek rewarding work, become lifelong learners and recognize that they will make mistakes along the way.
"Master the art of candor," Carroll said. "If you tell people the truth directly and tactfully, you will seldom cause offense."
With 260 students, it was Transylvania's largest graduating class, surpassing last year's group by one, said university spokeswoman Sarah Emmons.
The class includes 10 students accepted into law schools, 12 admitted to medical schools and eight into other health-related graduate programs. This graduating class had a distinctive international flavor, with two-thirds of the students having studied abroad for a semester, May term, a summer or a year during their college careers.
Among those in the class were Lino Nakwa, who immigrated to Louisville from Sudan in 2003 at the age of 24. Nakwa, a finance major, attracted media attention last year when the Department of Homeland Security's Citizenship and Immigration Services turned down his request for a green card to gain U.S. citizenship.
Nakwa had been kidnapped as a child by the Sudanese People's Liberation Army, and that raised red flags with the U.S. government, which considers that group a terrorist organization.
Another newly minted grad, Marcie Smith of Richmond, served in a delegation of U.S. college students to December's United Nations meeting on climate change in Poznan, Poland.
A double major in French language and literature and international relations with an environmental studies minor, Smith helped found the Transylvania Environmental Rights and Responsibilities Alliance.
After considering a host of options for the fall, Smith is moving to North Carolina to work on a cooperative farm, according to the university.
Other graduates include:
■ Marshall Jolly of Paris, who graduated with a degree in American studies, earned a full-tuition scholarship for a three-year master of divinity degree at Emory University's Candler School of Theology. Jolly was selected to speak on behalf of the 2009 class at graduation.
■ Katharin Shaw of Virginia Beach, Va., is bound for Harvard University to pursue a Ph.D. in chemical biology.
■ Marci Cornett of Viper, who majored in French language and literature, was awarded an assistantship from the French Ministry of Education to teach English in Rouen, France.
■ Mariam Hanna, a Lexington native and double major in biology and French language and literature, received a similar assistantship to teach either English or science in France.
■ And three graduating seniors received Fulbright English Teaching assistantships through the U.S. State Department. They are Andrew Owen of Owensboro, who will spend nine months in Argentina; Katie Thornton of Midway, who will teach English in Malaysia for 10 months; and Rachael Williams of Murray, who will live and work in Korea for 10 months.
Transylvania awarded honorary doctorate degrees to Carroll; Charles T. Ambrose, a University of Kentucky medical professor who has taken an interest in Transylvania's 19th-century medical school and contributes to the magazine Transylvania Treasures; and Malcolm L. Warford, a Transylvania graduate and religious scholar who for 10 years led the Lexington Seminar, a program of the Lexington Theological Seminary, which convened leaders from five theological schools to discuss reforms in theological education.