In addition to the traditional recognition of student accomplishments, the 2017 commencement ceremony at Cottey College will include a special presentation. At the 133-year-old private women’s college in Southwest Missouri, graduates will receive a unique gift from commencement speaker Dr. Tara Stuart, Class of 1952. Dr. Stuart as a member of the World Peace and Prayer Society will present each graduate with a miniature Peace Pole to “carry on her journey as living, loving global citizens.” The pole will carry the message “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in four different languages.
According to Dr. Stuart, this presentation is the first time in the history of the World Peace Prayer Society, a nonprofit, nondenominational organization dating back to 1955 that it has been asked to craft Peace Poles for a college commencement ceremony. Today, there are more than 200,000 Peace Poles in 180 countries. Several Peace Poles are located in Kansas City. In 2008, Cottey College acquired its own Peace Pole. The Peace Pole is symbolic of humanity’s longing and active service in conflict resolution, creating right human relations, and the foundations of peace.
“Dr. Stuart brings a message about the importance of living in right relationships as global citizens,” said Dr. Jann Weitzel, president of Cottey College. “It is a charge to our graduates as they move forward in their lives to take personal responsibility for creating the world in which they choose to live.”
Cottey College has long embraced global awareness with an average of 25 countries represented annually on a campus of 350 students. At one time in its history, the college was referred to as “The College of World Friendship.” A sophomore trip to a European country with expenses covered by the College has been a hallmark of a Cottey education for 18 years. A variety of international internships and study abroad opportunities are also available to Cottey students.
“Cottey is a college that welcomes international students as well as faculty with international backgrounds,” said Dr. Stuart. “My challenge to Cottey graduates is to take the spirit of peace that they have absorbed through their Cottey education and take that spirit into the world.”
Dr. Stuart presently serves as a board member of the United Nations Caucus on Spirituality. She is described as a global citizen by her colleague Deborah Moldow, a representative to the United Nations for the World Peace Prayer Society. “Tara is the vehicle for encouraging these young women to go out and make a difference in the world. Cottey graduates are being offered the opportunity to fly like Tara.”
In presenting the Peace Poles to Cottey graduates, Dr. Stuart stated, “Peace is living in harmonious relationship with self, others and all life. The culture of peace is an integral component of global citizenship. Therefore, it is most appropriate that each graduate receive a gift of a miniature Peace Pole.”
Dr. Stuart is a world traveler and an advocate for peace. Her own journey has included living and working in many countries including New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico, India, Turkey, Tibet, Switzerland and Great Britain. Dr. Stuart has a diverse professional background as an educator, speaker, author, illustrator, and CEO of her own business. In cooperation with the School for International Training, Dr. Stuart and associates were instrumental in establishing an international education program for gifted high school students in five nations. Dr. Stuart will soon be commissioned as Justice of the Peace in New Hampshire.