More than 2,000 students graduated from N.C. Baptist colleges in May.
Chowan University celebrated the first graduate of its Adult Degree Completion Program when Amy Elizabeth Guy of Roanoke Rapids earned a bachelor of science degree in social sciences.
The program allows adults with an associate’s degree to take classes at night or online to earn their four-year degree.
Commencement exercises May 15 at Chowan focused on the more than 100 graduates.
As is tradition at the school, graduating seniors rang the memorial gazebo bell to signify the close of their academic careers.
At Mars Hill College, 137 graduates received degrees on May 9. Of those, 117 were in the traditional college program and 20 were adult ACCESS (Accelerated Credit/Continuing Education/Summer School) students.
“I had a vision for what my college experience would be,” said graduate Jessica Blanford.
“I never expected to fall in love with everything about it. What a privilege we have had to be in this place for a time.”
Blanford, a history and religion major from Concord, described her college experience with a quote from Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck that compares the struggles of life to rocks on a roadway that you discover to be diamonds.
Campbell University held commencement in the Gilbert Craig Gore Arena of the John W. Pope Jr. Convocation Center for the first time May 9.
More than 600 undergraduate students and graduate students from the Lundy-Fetterman School of Business and the School of Education filed onto the arena floor to receive their degrees.
Separate hooding and graduation ceremonies for the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law, School of Pharmacy and the Divinity School were held May 8, conferring an additional 228 graduate and professional degrees.
Janice Haywood, a longtime leader of children’s ministries among N.C. Baptists, received an honorary doctor of divinity degree.
Haywood, who is coordinator and lead instructor in the Divinity School’s Preschool and Children’s Ministry Certification program, accepted the degree at the hooding ceremony for the Campbell Divinity School.
U.S. Representative and Campbell alumnus Bob Etheridge delivered the general commencement address.
Etheridge encouraged students to remain confident in their educational preparation during these tough economic times.
“Don’t despair. We will come out of this downturn,” said Etheridge. “The very forces you have studied will generate tremendous innovation.”
“Your education received here at Campbell University will help make that success possible.”
Gardner-Webb University honored 512 graduates in two ceremonies May 11.
A morning ceremony was dedicated to all undergraduate students.
Author Ron Rash, a Gardner-Webb alumnus, delivered the commencement address.
Rash is currently Parris Distinguished professor in Appalachian Cultural Studies at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee.
Two graduates, John A. Tagliarini of Bryson City and Deardre J. Gibson of Gastonia, gave commencement speeches.
Gibson received a doctor of education degree and told the audience the GWU graduate program provided an opportunity for students to foster meaningful intellectual discussions.
“I was fortunate to meet colleagues from diverse backgrounds and geographic areas and collaborate with administrators, who helped me to grow professionally through their experiences and insight,” Gibson said.
Tagliarini, who received a doctor of ministry degree, said his experience at GWU offered opportunities for growth and rejuvenation.
“My three years in pursuit of a degree resulted in a renewed sense that God has called me to and equipped me for ministry,” he said.
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper spoke at Wingate University’s outdoor ceremony, where more than 400 graduates received degrees May 9.
He advised students to thank those who inspired them through the years and “see that they share this honor with you.”
He also offered advice about job hunting:
“You’re going to have to be persistent … keep seeking that ‘yes’ after you’ve heard 100 ‘no’s.’”
One of the things that can hurt graduates is negative images in their social networking tools.
“Be careful of what you put on Facebook,” he said.
He also told students to be active in their communities through churches, civic clubs, mentors, fighting poverty, running for office and voting.
Cooper received an honorary doctorate along with Tom Williams and Georgia Dunn Belk.
Wingate’s ceremony was webcast for the first time for family and friends unable to attend.