FERRUM – Ferrum College celebrated its 106th commencement on Saturday, April 23, under sunny skies in W.B. Adams Stadium as 185 graduates from 15 different states received their diplomas. The commencement exercises included the presentation of student and faculty awards and a keynote address by journalist and bestselling author Beth Macy.
Dr. Kevin Reilly, vice president of Academic Affairs, opened the ceremony by welcoming all those gathered to celebrate the seniors’ achievements. Following the invocation given by Campus Minister Laura Robinson, President David Johns took the podium to welcome the crowd and remind the graduates that success comes from teamwork, hard work, determination, and the love and support of family and friends.
Johns then commended the graduates on their dedication and progress. He instructed them to use what they had learned, saying, “We are all given this one life; it is precious, a gift. I urge you to invest your life in healing the world. One of the hallmarks of a Ferrum College graduate is that we are committed to our motto – Not Self, But Others. Whatever your path—business, human services, education, health care, public service, the military, further study, agriculture, the arts, justice work—whatever it is, do the best work you possibly can, and through your work, make the world healthier, happier, more free and just, make it better.”
Following the president’s remarks, Ferrum College Board of Trustees Chair D. Scott Showalter ’73 and Alumni Association President B. Clay Wiley ’06 each gave their greetings on behalf of their respective boards. They were followed by the presentation of faculty and student awards.
Assistant Professor of Accounting and Program Coordinator of Accounting and Business Sadie Wallace received the Exemplary Teaching Award, in recognition of her excellence and commitment to teaching, concern for student welfare in areas beyond academic studies, scholarship, and service to the College, her profession, and the greater community. In addition to her work at the College, Wallace, who is a Ferrum alumna and former student athlete, is a member of the Franklin and Bedford County Volunteer Fire Departments and helps coordinate the local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program for STEP (Solutions That Empower People, Inc.).
Madison Cogle ’22 of Camden, WV; Makayla Hubbard ’22 of Penhook, VA; Brandon Mullins ’22 of Union Hall, VA; and Brooke Turner ’22 of Rocky Mount, VA, each received Senior Academic Excellence Awards for earning a perfect 4.0 GPA during their time at the College.
Abigail McGovern ’22, of Roundhill, VA received the Arthur S. Owens Leadership Award, presented annually to the senior chosen by the faculty who best exemplifies the qualities of Arthur S. Owens: leadership, initiative, honor and outstanding character. Recipients of this award must also hold an excellent academic record, have participated in extracurricular activities, and shown creative initiative in making Ferrum College a better place to study, work, and live.
Jonathan Taylor ’22 from North Dinwiddie, VA, received the Lillie Warwick Slaven Award, which is given to a student who exemplifies the ideals of the ministerial profession and is recognized as an outstanding student leader at Ferrum College.
Demontay Wimbush ’22, of Bassett, VA, was awarded the James T. Catlin, Jr. Citizenship Award, named in honor of the late James T. Catlin, Jr. of Danville, VA, and presented annually to the student who has best demonstrated qualities of citizenship and general leadership ability as judged by vote of the faculty.
Following the awards presentations and her introduction of the keynote speaker, Beth Macy, Professor of English Lana Whited joined President Johns in presenting Macy with an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.
After receiving her honorary degree, Macy addressed the graduates, telling them, “You’ve spent four years or so honing your own distinctive voices. You entered this university with promise, and you’re leaving now with purpose. It’s time for the world to hear you.”
Next, Student Government Association President Mikayla Floyd ’22, of Chesapeake, VA, introduced Senior Class President Andre Williams ’22 of Virginia Beach, VA, who presented the senior class gift to Dr. Johns, and then introduced Kajuan Madden-McAfee ’22 of Harrisonburg, VA, as senior class speaker.
Madden-McAfee congratulated the class of 2022 and thanked them for the honor of being asked to speak. He spoke about their shared experiences at the College and told a biblical parable about a young boy and his boat that has inspired and guided his life.
Next, Johns and Reilly conferred and awarded the graduate and undergraduate degrees. The ceremony closed with the singing of the College’s “Alma Mater.”
A celebratory picnic lunch followed on Franklin Hall quad for all in attendance. The weekend events also included a traditional Baccalaureate service on Friday evening in Vaughn Chapel