Baccalaureate and graduation took central position on St. Andrews University’s campus as they held their 121st Commencement on Sunday, May 6, on the DeTamble Library Terrace for 115 graduates in the class of 2018 with degrees covering the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and Master of Business Administration.
The weekend began Saturday with Baccalaureate in Harris Courts in the Physical Education Center. The speaker, the Rev. W. Robert Martin III, a 1986 graduate of St. Andrews, recently returned to Laurinburg to serve as the Pastor for Laurinburg Presbyterian Church. His sermon, “The Galilee Directive—Out to the Margins” focused on looking forward: “What journey will you now take, degree in hand, so as to change not only you but the world you will inhabit? And as you answer these questions, never forget, and never fear, that Jesus goes out ahead of each you into the Galilees you will find and, hopefully confront—for it is there that he awaits the power and the promise of your presence! Be on your way—and as it has done for me, may such a journey change you some so that you might change the lives of others!”
As is the tradition for Commencement, graduates gathered on the residence side of the campus, led by the St. Andrews Pipe Band and the faculty who then walked across the causeway between the two lakes. Family and friends then greeted them as they entered the terrace that is next to DeTamble Library.
After opening remarks by Dr. David Herr ’91, the University Marshal and Chair of the Liberal Arts Division, St. Andrews University President Paul Baldasare Jr. ’77 welcomed those attending, noting especially the parents who began this journey four years ago with the opening convocation that was held in Harris Courts for what was the beginning week for the class of 2018.
St. Andrews Board of Trustee Chairman Joe Strickler (Winter Haven, FL) spoke followed by the two senior class speakers who were nominated and chosen by their peers. Linda Diane Widmer (Vass, NC) represented St. Andrews at Sandhills and Wendy Alexandra Varisco (Covington, LA) spoke for the St. Andrews campus. Miss Widmer closed with: "I followed my heart and pursued a degree in education ... Teachers make a difference every single day, and I am so happy to be a part of that impact. So, whatever you decide to go out and do, make sure it makes you happy!"
Miss Varisco said, “Use every tool in your toolbox that St. Andrews has given you to face new challenges. Remember what this university has taught you: don’t be afraid to embrace being different, because the school you went to certainly was.”
The Class of 1991 Distinguished Faculty Award was presented by Dr. Edna Ann Loftus, Interim Vice President and Dean for Academic Affairs, to Professor of English Betsy Dendy for her teaching, campus-wide work, constant student assistance and especially for her involvement with the SAU Gender Justice Club.
President Baldasare announced The Algernon Sydney and Mary Mildred Sullivan Award given to graduating senior Tariq Jean-Claude Getrouw (Suriname) who began an international aquatics program teaching children how to swim. The award recognizes the spiritual qualities of the recipient as reflected in their selfless gift of time and energy in the service of others.
The Rev. Dr. James L Morgan Jr. from Laurinburg and Laurel Hill was the commencement speaker. He graduated from Wake Forest University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology, and from Columbia Theological Seminary where he earned a Doctor of Ministry degree. He currently serves as President and CEO of The Morgan Company, a closely held investment firm in Laurel Hill, NC, that has its roots as a former textile manufacturing company (Morgan-Jones, Inc. 1872-1974). He is the CEO and Founder of King Fisher Society, an ordained Presbyterian minister (PCUSA) and a jazz pianist.
His message to graduates focused on vocation: “You all will probably live a very long time and the rate of change in your life will likely increase exponentially. But there will always be this one constant: if you dare to try to find your Vocation, with a big V—that work you are called to that meets the world’s deep hunger, this long life you are about to live will be fulfilling and full of deep gladness. The world’s needs will change, but your deep gladness will not. You may discover more gifts, more ways of following your path and connecting to your world, but that basic sense of being called to use your gifts will always be there.”
St. Andrews University Choir with Choir Master Ed Williams and Sean Moore, accompanist, provided choral selections and closed the service with “A Parting Blessing” and the singing of the Alma Mater.—30—
(Rev. Martin’s sermon, Dr. Morgan’s speech and Wendy Varisco’s senior class speech are available below as pdfs.)
Varisco's Senior Class Speech