BLOOMINGTON -- Each of the 446 graduates in Sunday's commencement ceremony at Illinois Wesleyan University had a special story to tell.
Britany Morrison of LeRoy was explaining why she was receiving her political science degree while on crutches, the result of a bad fall on Valentine's Day in front of the library.
"I'm a little frustrated because it's graduation day and I can't get around as easily as I would like, but everyone has been great," she said.
Queenie Li, a native of Hong Kong, was graduating in international business in front of her family who had made the trip.
"I'm so excited to graduate, but a little sad that I will be leaving my friends," she said.
But Megan Mullaney, a history major from Ann Arbor, Michigan, had one that nobody else could touch. Her mother, Linda Gregerson, was delivering the keynote address.
"She deserves it, she's a workaholic and very passionate about everything she does," Mullaney said. "I am very proud of her and was so excited when she told me."
Gregerson, a 2007 National Book Award finalist, teaches American poetry and Renaissance literature at the University of Michigan and received an honorary doctorate from Board of Trustees Chair George Vinyard during the ceremony.
"I called Megan and asked her ‘How would you feel if I delivered the keynote address at your graduation?' and she didn't hesitate," Gregerson said. "She thought it would be cool and so my goal was to just not humiliate her."
Gregerson told the graduates that the world now needs to learn how to communicate better with each other and work together on the search for answers to today's problems.
"We need to remember how to talk with each other, respectfully," she said.
Minutes before the ceremony, IWU President Richard Wilson told the Class of 2011 that they will be missed.
"I am very proud of this class for several reasons as they have achieved success athletically with national championships in basketball and track, but have also been a big part of the community as well," Wilson said. "Many of our seniors have been involved with Habitat for Humanity and the West Bloomington Revitalization Project."
Wilson said that the class also had two students awarded Fulbright academic grants which promote international relations. Jason Roeschley, a Hispanic Studies major from Flanagan and Emily Coles, an international studies and French double major from Champaign, have both received grants for 10-month teaching positions outside of the country.
"It's the first time in a long time we have had two Fulbright award winners, but it speaks volumes about this class," Wilson said.
Also on Sunday, an honorary doctorate was presented to Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Almudena Carracedo.