Rod Svee: "There is no greater gift than to serve"
On Thursday, February 9, the Great Hall at Rocky Mountain College was lit with the warm flickering glow of candlelight. The burning wicks served as a reminder of the first Candlelight Dinner at RMC 103 years ago, when candles were used to rectify a lack of electricity. Although the RMC of today certainly has no shortage of modern amenities, the traditional Candlelight Dinner remains an annual custom to uphold the College's values.
The dinner, while changing with RMC over the years, has always been a time to recognize one alumni for outstanding service to the community, and this year's Alumni Association Outstanding Service Award was presented to Rodney Svee ('69).
Starting out at Rocky Mountain College when tuition was a mere $1300 a year, Svee secured a $1000 scholarship to attend school - paying the remainder of his tuition with money earned working at a local gas station.
"Coming to Rocky was the greatest gift I could've had," he said. "But the thing with Rocky wasn't what they gave me, but what they did for me personally. I learned that all people have worth and that if you care and you serve, you will be successful. There is no greater gift than to serve."
Svee took the lesson of service to heart, and with his wife, Pat ("the most important thing I got from Rocky"), he set out to make a difference.
His work with Montana public schools, the Human Rights commission and the RMC community all fall back on the values he learned as a RMC student.
"The professors taught us that it's all about the people," he said. "They didn't push us into anything. They let us grow."
In honor of Svee's life-long devotion to people, RMC was proud to recognize him as an embodiment of the College's values.