Graduates Encouraged to Work for Dreams

8 May 2017, 3:14 pm Written by 
Published in Latest News
Graduates toss caps after ceremony. Graduates toss caps after ceremony. Rooney Coffman

LAURINBURG, N.C. – “Only two Commencement ceremonies have been rained out in the history of St. Andrews,” informed campus president Paul Baldasare, Jr.


Despite the winds and rains on Saturday, 125 undergraduate and 20 graduate students received their diplomas on the DeTamble Library Terrace at St. Andrews University’s 120th Commencement ceremony.

The graduates along with faculty and the executive committee were led in a processional by the St. Andrews Pipe Band from the residential side of campus to the academic side crossing Lake Ansley Moore.

Each year, two students are chosen to address the graduating class, one from the Sandhills campus and the other from the Laurinburg campus. This year, Emily Mosely, an Elementary Education major from Sandhills thanked her professors, Dr. Reynolds, Dr. McLeod, Professor Cameron and Professor Miles for “pushing me to pursue my dreams.”

She remembers her first day in student teaching orientation as being one of the most overwhelming days of her life. “Am I pursing the right dream?” she asked herself. But after getting into the classroom and student-teaching, she knew she was exactly where she was meant to be.

Graduates also heard from Josh Dixon, a Business Administration major from Durban, South Africa. After being bet $100 that he would not take a selfie from the platform, he did. Overall he collected $140 during his speech.

Annually the Class of 1991 Distinguished Faculty Award is presented to a faculty member who has demonstrated the characteristics of the most outstanding faculty. This year, Dr. John Knesel, Associate Professor of Biology and Chair of the Department of Natural and Life Sciences received the prestigious award.

Through his nominations, Knesel was described as being as a model of integrity, sacrifice and love of St. Andrews. He was admonished for bringing “Louisiana flare” to campus through his Friday Science Seminars including one on Mardi Gras.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan and Mary Mildred Sullivan Awards are sponsored by the New York Southern Society for the purpose of recognizing the spiritual qualities of the recipients as reflected in their selfless gifts of time and energy in the service of others. History major, Darrien Bailey and Education major, Sullivan Owens were presented the awards respectively.

Bailey not only served the St. Andrews community as the 2016-17 SGA President, but also worked in the community with the Growing Change program that is seeking to transform a closed juvenile detention facility into a community center with an urban farm and job training opportunities.

Owens has made integrity and service to others an integral part of her education experience. She tutored disadvantaged and low income children in the Scotland County area through a local Partners in Ministry program and also volunteers at the Humane Society.

Commencement Speaker, Rev. Wayne Meisel is the Director for the Center of Faith and Service at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL. He previously served as the Director of Faith and Service at the Cousins Foundation in Atlanta, GA and was the founding president of the Bonner Foundation. In 1994, he was recognized by TIME Magazine as one of the top 50 leaders under 40.

“I was taught to reject privilege as unfair and unacceptable,” said Meisel. “I want to be at a place that accepts anyone with a dream or an idea or a hope and a story. There’s something genuine and authentic and much more interesting about a community built on luck, serendipity, providence, second chances, and last resorts all mixed together.”

Meisel challenged graduates to recognize opportunity and take it. “Create a world where you want to live.”

Among graduates, three have been accepted into Veterinary School, Marisa Azua, Samantha Bollinger and Betina Gore.

“I will definitely miss my friends the most,” says Biology major, Bollinger.

She is the first to graduate college in her family. Her tight-knit group of friends have spent much of their time working an internship for Dr. Laura Kellam at the equestrian center and last summer dehorned rhinoceroses in South Africa. Bollinger along with Gore will attend NC State in the fall while Azua will be attending Purdue.

At the conclusion of the ceremony the sun began to peek from behind the clouds and in his benediction Meisel said “when I prayed for no rain I was in central time.”

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