TWC grads told find 'true happiness' by making a difference in the world

Posted on: May 10, 2011

TWC graduated more than 200 students on Saturday, May 7 and honored students, faculty and community members with annual awards.

Courtesy of the Daily Post-Athenian
By Greg Moses, Community Life Editor

So much has changed since the Rev. Dennie Humphreys graduated from Tennessee Wesleyan College in the early 1970s. And yet, for the more than 200 graduates he addressed during TWC's 154th Commencement Saturday morning, the feelings they held -¬ like the feelings of the members of his own class -¬ were unaltered.

"This is the culmination of your life, when everything comes together as you get that document and enter the real world," Humphreys said. "It's a special time -¬ a time when you know happiness."

Of course, he was quick to note that "happiness is fleeting."

"When I graduated, a war was ending badly. There was an oil embargo that had gas prices soaring ... to $1.50 per gallon. Our president was on the verge of impeachment," he said. "It's a different time. It's not like it was. You'll wonder, 'What have I done?' and 'What will I do?' in the years ahead."

The years ahead of graduation are a time when graduates realize their purpose, Humphreys noted. It is in following that purpose that "true joy" is found.

"The world is in need, and it needs you desperately. It needs your strength, courage and perseverance. Our world needs to be made different, and we look to you for difference," he said. "That's where true joy can fill your lives. That's where true happiness can remain with you. True happiness is found in true joy."

The accomplished minister, who is the current pastor at Keith Memorial United Methodist Church in Athens, went on to describe his daughter's Brownie troop leader who felt it was her job to make all the girls in the troop happy.

Once, when making a trip from the Brownie meeting to a restaurant -¬ some five blocks away - all the girls yelled "Shotgun!" when filing toward the troop leader's minivan.

"To make sure they were all happy, she'd stop the van every half a block to let the girls switch seats," Humphreys recalled. "Her efforts to make everyone happy just made everyone angry."

Happiness itself isn't the ultimate goal of life, the minister noted.

"Your purpose is not to be happy. It's not to worry about making other people happy," Humphreys said. "It is to understand the joy of Christ within you and share it with others."

Living life in that way - going forth into the world and sharing your talents with the world for greater good - is the path to true happiness.

"Know tomorrow is a brand new day for all of you and all of us," Humphreys said. "Go into that day ready to share all you have. Go forth and make a difference."

Special Honors

Recognition was given to both new and returning graduates, as well as faculty and staff members and community leaders.

The Athens Area Chamber of Commerce Award, presented to a male and female graduate earning the highest grade-point average during their four years of college, was awarded to Regena Breeden and Andrew Crabtree.

The Townsend Award, which goes to the most representative male and female members of the graduating class, was presented to Laura Swallows and Joel Gossner.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, given to both a male student and male member of the local community for outstanding humanitarian service, was given to TWC graduate Landon Sherrill and Athens resident and businessman Joe Riley.

The Mary Mildred Sullivan Award, the female equivalent of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, was presented this year to TWC graduate Amy Jo Castor and TWC senior Pam McManaman.

The Harry Steadman Award, which goes to an outstanding supporter of the college and the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church, was given to Trinity United Methodist Church member Dave Schwiebert.

The Lockmiller Award Teacher of the Year Award was presented to TWC American history professor Dr. Chris Schutz.

The Deane G. Hall Award for excellence in academic advising was presented to Sharon Bailey.

Members of Tennessee Wesleyan's classes of 1951 and 1961 were inducted into the Golden Anniversary Club during Saturday's Commencement exercises.

"We're proud of our alumni," said Interim President Stan Harrison. "They leave Tennessee Wesleyan and go on to make great achievements and contributions to our world."

If you would like to purchase a DVD of the ceremony, please do so by following the link below.  Each set includes Thursday's Baccalaureate service as well as Dr. Decker's Last Lecture.  Please choose if you would like the Nursing Pinning Ceremony in the box below.

DVD Options