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Author Min Jin Lee to speak at May 13 ceremony

MONMOUTH, Ill. — Critically acclaimed author Min Jin Lee will address more than 260 graduates at Monmouth College’s 161st Commencement exercises, to be held at noon May 13 on the Wallace Hall Plaza.

In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in the Huff Athletic Center.

Commencement exercises will conclude a weekend of activities that includes a baccalaureate service, the Honor Walk and the Senior Gala.

The May 13 commencement ceremony will also feature performances by the Monmouth College Wind Ensemble, Pipe Band and Chorale. Student speakers will include Diana Rubi of Peoria, Ill., who is the College’s Student Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois, and Farida Mohammed of Conyers, Ga., president of the senior class.

The College’s baccalaureate service – which will be held at 2 p.m. May 12 in Dahl Chapel – will feature a message delivered by the Rev. Shannon Johnson Kershner, senior pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in Chicago.

Baccalaureate will be live-streamed on the College’s YouTube channel (, and Commencement will be live-streamed on the College’s main Facebook page (

Commencement weekend festivities begin May 11, with the Department of Music’s Commencement concert. It will feature the Chorale and the Wind Ensemble and will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Dahl Chapel.

At 3:30 p.m. May 12, following baccalaureate, members of the Class of 2018 will have the opportunity to participate in the Honor Walk on Wallace Hall Plaza. Seniors will present a specially minted commemorative coin to honor a family member, faculty or staff member, or friend who has provided inspiration, motivation and support during their Monmouth College career.

Graduates and their family members will attend the Senior Gala, which will be held 5:30 p.m. May 12 in Glennie Gymnasium.

The Senior Gala dinner will open with an invocation by senior Angela Baumann of Dubuque, Iowa. After a welcome from senior Paul Engo III of Chicago, Callie Rae Cook of Mount Vernon, Iowa, will present the senior reflection. The seniors, represented by Sarah Ellis of Chrisman, Ill., will also present Monmouth President Clarence R. Wyatt with the class gift, which totals more than $18,000. Members of the senior class will be presented with pins by the Alumni Association, welcoming them into the organization.

Min Jin Lee was a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award for her second novel, Pachinko. A multigenerational family story, the national bestseller chronicles Koreans who lived in Japan from the early 20th century through the 1980s. It was named a New York Times Editor’s Choice and an American Booksellers Association’s Indie Next Great Reads.

Born in Seoul, Lee’s family moved to the United States in 1976. She studied history at Yale University, where she was awarded both the Henry Wright Prize for Nonfiction and the James Ashmun Veech Prize for Fiction. Lee attended law school at Georgetown University and worked as a lawyer for several years in New York City before becoming a full-time writer. She has lectured at numerous U.S. colleges and universities as well as literary events and festivals.

Shannon Kershner grew up in Waco, Texas, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister and an elementary school teacher. She stayed in Texas for college and graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio. Kerschner received a master of divinity degree from Columbia Theological Seminary.

Kershner’s sermons and articles have been published in a number of journals, including The Journal for Preachers and Lectionary Homiletics. She is involved in leadership for NEXT Church and serves on its Strategy Team.