Waiting to Ring the Graduation Bell
An historic bell sits in the middle of campus at the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville. No one is allowed to ring the bell except graduates on Commencement Day.
The bell arrived on campus in 1996. Way before that, it welcomed people at the Calvary Episcopal Church in Townville, which is now Abundant Life Christian Fellowship Church. Rev. Alfred Broadhurst was pastor at Calvary. He has a building named after him at Pitt-Titusville. So, it's only right that his church bell was donated to the college. The tradition of graduates ringing the bell has been celebrated since its arrival.
"As they're getting closer to graduation, it becomes more and more popular,” says Dr. Stephanie Fiely, Asst. Exec. Dir. at Pitt-Titusville's Education & Training HUB: “The conversation around campus saying, 'We're going to get to ring the bell soon."
Athena Lamey became a 2022 graduate this past weekend. She passed the bell every day during her time on campus studying for her Associate Degree in Nursing. The bell was a constant reminder that, one day, her hard work would end and she would finally become a nurse.
"Just completion, you know. It's a celebration and it's a rite of passage that it's finally over and it's done and I made it. It means a lot to me,” she said.
The cherished tradition of ringing the bell was in jeopardy this year. The iron yoke that holds the bell needed repairs. The entire bell was sent to Bradford last fall and it was unknown if it would return in time for commencement exercises held last weekend. Athena was worried.
"For the time it was away for repairs, I was quite concerned. I was asking a bunch of people on campus, 'Where did the bell go? What's going on? Will it be back for graduation?"
Dr. Fiely fielded many questions from students asking about the status of the campus bell.
“I had students come into my office saying 'Where's the bell? Is it going to be here for commencement?"
No worries. The repaired bell made it back in time for a beautiful graduation day last Saturday. The graduates received their diplomas. They then took turns doing what they finally earned the right to do. They rang the graduation bell.
"It was wonderful,” said Athena. “I've waited forever for that moment. I was very excited and very proud."
Pitt-Titusville’s Associate Degree in Nursing program had nine graduates this past weekend. All attended the ceremony and all rang the bell.