Roanoke's newest alumni - the Class of 2014

Salem - Roanoke College commencement speaker Warner Dalhouse '56 and co-valedictorian Jennifer Blaney used their addresses to the Class of 2014 on Saturday to deliver strong stances on equality and civil rights.

"Women are still not paid the same as men for the same work. Hello? This is 2014," said Dalhouse, retired chairman and CEO of First Union National Bank in Roanoke and founding chairman of HomeTown Bank. "That kind of injustice matters to all Americans, men and women. Men and women should work hard to correct that indefensible situation."

Dalhouse also said that racial, ethnic and religious discrimination persists, in spite of progress made since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted 50 years ago.

Warner Dalhouse '56 

Warner Dalhouse, Class of '56

"And, for me, the last great civil rights injustices are the laws discriminating against gay and lesbian citizens, often enshrined in state constitutions, including, I am ashamed to admit, the Commonwealth of Virginia," Dalhouse said.

Encouragement lies in the fact that young people, such as members of the Roanoke College Class of 2014, "are the most willing to combat all these things that need to change," Dalhouse said.

Blaney, one of Roanoke College's two 2014 valedictorians, echoed Dalhouse's assertions and call to action.

"Women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns," said Blaney, of Winchester. "That hasn't budged in 10 years. We should feel entitled to better."

co-Valedictorian Jenny Blaney

co-Valedictorian Jennifer Blaney '14

Blaney's "entitled" reference was to Millennials, and their voracious appetite for social media and propensity for "posting pictures of our food," she said. "We're a pretty entitled bunch."

But Blaney implored her fellow class members to be instruments of social change through social media.

Blaney said she traveled to Washington, D.C. recently to participate in a protest. One thousand college students attended, due primarily to a social media campaign that united students from all over the country, she said.

"We can use social media to change the world," said Blaney, who majored in music, with a minor in education, and plans to attend the University of California Los Angeles to earn a doctorate in higher education.

Blaney was one of approximately 453 Roanoke College graduates who received diplomas during the College's Commencement ceremony on Saturday.

Blaney shared co-valedictory honors with Nicole Hurless of Chestertown, Md. Hurless graduated with a bachelor of science degree in psychology and a concentration in neuroscience. She will attend Saint Louis University to earn a doctorate in clinical psychology.

co-Valedictorian Nicole Hurless

co-Valedictorian Nicole Hurless

"This is not the end, it is only the beginning. That's why it's called commencement," Hurless said. "Now you only have to decide how you are going to use the time given to you. Don't screw it up."

Tyler Barnes of Centreville, Va., was salutatorian. She is a biology major and will attend Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dalhouse and Dr. Marvin Phaup, Jr. '62 received honorary degrees during the ceremony. Phaup is the retired head of the Financial Studies/Budget Process group for the Congressional Budget Office.

Dr. Shannon Anderson, assistant professor of sociology, was recognized with the Dean's Council Exemplary Teaching Award. Dr. Chad Morris, assistant professor of anthropology, was recognized with the Dean's Council Exemplary Service Award.

Dr. Howard Warshawsky, professor of political science who retired this year after 40 years on the Roanoke College faculty, was recognized with the Simon Carson Wells Medal. The medal is named for Dr. Simon Carson Wells, a teacher of mathematics and natural science at the College from 1849 until his death in 1900.

In remarks to the Class of 2014, Roanoke College President Michael Maxey closed with a "note of hope."

"We hope that what happened here serves you as you serve the world," he said. "We hope you do constructive actions based on your education at Roanoke. We hope you leave us as a smarter and wiser person - ready to enhance society."

Check out all the photos shared on social media via #Maroons2014.College photo galleries will be posted in the next week. Be sure to follow Roanoke College on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay connected.

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