AURORA | After four years of challenges and successes the Wells College Class of 2013 received their degrees Saturday morning.

The long-awaited moment for the students began with a ride through town in the original Wells Fargo stagecoach before gathering with family and friends on the lakeside lawn behind the Aurora Inn to receive their degrees.

Some of the 82 graduates will go on to further their education, and others will enter the workforce, but all will move on to the next phase of their lives prepared to take on any challenge.

“As I look out at the graduating class today and I see the hopes and dreams on your faces. I would like to leave you with one message,” commencement speaker, Margaret Pericak-Vance said. “Be the driver of your own future. Wells College has given you rich resources. I wish you all the best of fortune, good health and a fulfilling life down whatever path your future may lie.”

Pericak-Vance, a Wells graduate of 1973 has been a driving force in the advancement of the human genetics field and is currently head of the University of Miami’s John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics.

She credits her years at Wells College with helping to find her life’s passion.

“My story is a story of tenacity where I chose to forge my own research path. Until I found genetics I really did not have a passion for what I wanted to do in life,” she said. “I don’t remember why, but by some quirk of good fortune I chose to take a genetics course. I became consumed with the subject matter. Nothing else piqued my interest like this topic. I wanted to go further, but Human Genetics was still a new field. Wells supported my vision and facilitated a one-month internship with one of my classmate’s father, Dr. George Solish, an early pioneer in human genetics.”

And the graduates weren’t the only ones saying goodbye to their years at Wells College and moving into a new future.

Lisa Marsh Ryerson, also a Wells graduate, presided over her final commencement ceremony after 19 years serving as the college’s president.

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