Returns to Ohio Wesleyan University on May 10
SHAWNEE ON DELAWARE, Pa. (April 20, 2009) — Virginia (Ginny) Pearsall Kirkwood (Class of ’64) will deliver the commencement address at Ohio Wesleyan University on May 10, joining an esteemed line-up of past speakers that includes Senator John McCain, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and Dr. Paul Farmer, a medical anthropologist and professor at Harvard Medical School.
A Cultural Anthropology major, Mrs. Kirkwood was accepted into the Peace Corps during her junior year and upon graduation served for two years in Turkey, where she cared for and raised funds for orphaned children. She then spent time in Thailand; Washington, D.C.; and Singapore before moving with her husband, Charles, to Shawnee on Delaware, Pa., where they have lived for 32 years.
In the Keystone state, Mrs. Kirkwood served as chair the Pennsylvania Special Olympics. Because of her experience in Asia, she later helped to create multiple Special Olympics programs in Thailand, Pakistan, Nepal, China, Singapore, and the Philippines.
Mrs. Kirkwood maintained her Peace Corps ties and in 1990 became director of the Peace Corps in Thailand. In this role, she introduced an extensive AIDS education program and helped to expand environmental and engineering projects. She served as director until 1993, and remains on the advisory board.
She also is a member of the board of trustees of Boston-based World Education, Inc., which aids educationally disadvantaged children in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, as well as the United States. She serves on the board of the Bangkok-based Kenan Institute Asia, which works to build sustainable competitiveness in Thailand and the Greater Mekong Sub-region. Additionally, she and her husband operate Shawnee Academy and The Beacon School in Pennsylvania. Both schools work with troubled youths no longer able to attend their home school districts.
The recipient of an Ohio Wesleyan distinguished achievement citation in 2004, Mrs. Kirkwood’s commencement address is entitled, “The Challenge of Graduating in 2009,” and will focus on the importance of public service and volunteerism in these challenging times.
Mrs. Kirkwood is co-owner of The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort and is the mother of five grown children and 14 grandchildren. Active in the arts, Mrs. Kirkwood has served as a producer for the Shawnee Playhouse; director for the Mountain Laurel Center for the Arts in Bushkill, Pa.; and was a guitar teacher for the blind during her time in Thailand.
Ohio Wesleyan University is an undergraduate liberal arts college that transforms the lives of its students through a combination of rigorous academics, mentoring relationships, and real-world experiences. Featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” the private university’s 1,850 students come from 47 states and 50 countries. Visit www.owu.edu for more information. The commencement address and ceremony will be streamed live at stream.owu.edu.