DEFIANCE, Ohio – Adam Braun, founder and executive director of Pencils of Promise, will speak at Defiance College’s 2011 commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 8. Two-hundred and fifty-seven graduates will be awarded diplomas during the 12 noon ceremony on the Colonnade Green in front of the Pilgrim Library.
Highest-ranking seniors of the graduating class of 2011 are Kathleen Bechstein, Wauseon, and Melissa Suffel, Defiance.
As a college student backpacking across the globe, Braun asked a small boy begging on the streets of India what he wanted most in the world. The answer: A pencil. The promise that came in sharing that first pencil led to the distribution of thousands while traveling through more than 50 countries. Pencils of Promise (PoP) was founded in October 2008 with just $25 in hopes of building one school by engaging other young people in the creation of good. Reactions from others to the PoP approach of nonprofit idealism and for-profit business accountability soon became so encouraging that Braun left his job at Bain & Company to work exclusively on realizing the PoP dream. What started as a small grassroots movement quickly evolved into an organization with a global impact.
Pencils of Promise is now one of the fastest growing nonprofits in the country, having built more than 20 sustainable schools across Laos, Nicaragua and Guatemala with expectations to reach 50 schools in 2011. In creating a dedicated community of over 100,000 members, PoP has become a leader in social media engagement, sustainable development, youth empowerment and digital innovation.
Pencils of Promise is considered one of the world's most impactful new nonprofits as recognized by Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Bill Clinton, Barbara Walters, Katie Couric and PoP spokesperson Justin Bieber.
Braun graduated magna cum laude and played varsity basketball for Brown University, previously worked at leading consulting firm Bain & Company, and now spends half the year traveling on behalf of PoP and half the year at global headquarters in New York City.
Preceding commencement at Defiance College will be a 10:30 a.m. baccalaureate service in the Weaner Community Center during which Rev. Barbara Essex will deliver the sermon.
Rev. Essex serves as minister for higher and theological education for the United Church of Christ, Cleveland. She also serves as adjunct faculty for the Hartford Seminary’s Women Leadership Institute in Connecticut. Reverend Essex has also authored numerous books including Pilgrim Press Mayflower Award for Spirituality winner Bad Boys of the Bible: Exploring Men of Questionable Virtue, Bad Girls of the Bible: Lessons for Spirituality and Empowerment and her most recent work Bold and Brazen: Exploring Hebrew Prophets.
Rev. Essex earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northwestern University, and a master of divinity from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ, a member of Mt. Zion Congregational UCC in Cleveland and an associate member of Sycamore Congregational UCC in El Cerrito, CA.
Both events are open to the public.
Defiance College, chartered in 1850, is an independent, liberal arts institution in Northwest Ohio offering more than 40 undergraduate programs of study as well as graduate programs in education and business. Defiance College has received national recognition for its educational experience of service and engagement. The college website is www.defiance.edu.
April 12, 2011
2011 Commencement Information