Monday, May. 20, 2013 12:00 am

GRINNELL, IA—Grinnell College Commencement speaker and poet Sarah Kay reminded the Class of 2013 to listen to others and look for mentors—in every quarter.
"The world outside of college is vast," she said. "It would be a shame to not meet and listen to others who are different from you."
Kay received an honorary degree from Grinnell, as did pioneering computer scientist Nathaniel Borenstein '80, who invented the MIME protocol that allows people to send e-mail attachments. Twenty years ago, when skeptics asked him why he was so interested in supporting multimedia on the net, Borenstein would tell them, "Someday I'm going to have grandchildren, and I want to get pictures of them by e-mail." People remained skeptical—but now, MIME is used roughly a trillion times a day. "Only the very best uses are actually pictures of my grandchildren," Borenstein said. "Most of the rest are useless garbage."
Grinnell also presented an honorary degree in memoriam to longtime activist Bonnie Tinker '69, founder of Love Makes a Family. And in the inaugural year of a new tradition, the college presented an honorary degree to a secondary school teacher—David Abarr '83, a math, science and social studies teacher at Davis Elementary School in Grinnell.
The day was filled with reminders of youth. Abarr passed along words of wisdom from his fourth graders, whose advice ranged from "Party hard!!!" to "Get a job—and not at McDonald's." Kay, who is just 24, told the graduates that she still sleeps every night with her favorite childhood stuffed lion. (She later revealed that it was the one thing her father salvaged when he first returned to the family's ravaged New York apartment two weeks after 9/11). And Qianning Zhang—who by virtue of alphabetical order was the final Grinnellian to receive a diploma—shed her gown as she walked across stage to reveal that her Commencement garb was a yellow Pikachu costume.
Kay began her Commencement address with a childhood poem written by her mother: "A lion is brave/a mouse can be, too/Courage depends on what you need to do." She concluded with a poem that she wrote for her own junior high school principal, Mrs. Rivera. "Listen to each other like you know you are scholars, artists, scientists, athletes, musicians, like you know you will be the ones who shape this world. Show me how many colors you know how to draw with. Show me how proud you are of what you have learned, and I promise I will do the same."
More than 3,000 people attended Grinnell's graduation ceremony, which was held on central campus on a windy, crystal clear day after a night of heavy thunderstorms. Many graduates wore green ribbons signifying their commitment to social and environmental responsibility. 
Grinnell presented degrees to 334 graduating seniors, whose post-Grinnell plans range from teaching, to exploring DIY biology through a Watson Fellowship, to public policy work and graduate school.
About Grinnell College Since its founding in 1846, Grinnell has become one of the nation's premier liberal arts colleges, enrolling 1,600 students from all 50 states and from as many international countries. Grinnell's rigorous academic program emphasizes excellence in education for students in the liberal arts; the college offers the B.A. degree in a range of departments across the humanities, arts and sciences. Grinnell has a strong tradition of social responsibility and action, and self-governance and personal responsibility are key components of campus life. More information about Grinnell College is available at