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TWC graduates more than 230 students at 155th Commencement
Tennessee Wesleyan College's 155th Commencement started with Friday evening's Baccalaureate service in Townsend Memorial Hall and concluded Saturday morning at the college's 155th Commencement service where more than 230 students celebrated their graduation and received their degrees. Held in McMinn County High School's gymnasium because of inclement weather, the graduates were cheered on by more than 5,000 family members, friends and college faculty and staff.
Tennessee Wesleyan College’s 155th Commencement started with Friday evening’s Baccalaureate service in Townsend Memorial Hall and concluded Saturday morning at the college’s 155th Commencement service where more than 230 students celebrated their graduation and received their degrees. Held in McMinn County High School’s gymnasium because of inclement weather, the graduates were cheered on by more than 5,000 family members, friends and college faculty and staff.
This year’s Commencement celebration was complete with dazzlingly decorated caps and excited cheers from proud parents and relatives who watched their student walk across the stage and accept their diploma.
A message of hope and inspiration to this year’s TWC graduates was delivered by Commencement Speaker Dr. Claude Pressnell, Jr., president of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, and Baccalaureate Speaker Joseph Eldridge, a university chaplain and adjunct faculty in the School of International Service at American University.
Eldridge’s speech from Friday evening’s Baccalaureate emphasized the power of love in the world and in the graduate’s futures.
“You are heading into a world that needs you,” said Eldridge, a 1967 graduate of TWC. “A world in which civility and community are shattered, a world in which justice is denied to so many, a world fervently in need of help, a world longing for people to demonstrate the love that you have come to know. You can do it. You are up to the task.
“You’re the ones we have been waiting for. You’re the ones you’ve been waiting for. You are the light of the world. A world in which people think they possess all kinds of knowledge but are lacking in the knowledge of the one thing that can actually transform communities and give hope to the world: love. That love is something you have. That love is something you know. And in the end, that love is all you need.”
Pressnell’s Saturday morning Commencement speech echoed Eldridge’s emphasis on the importance of love and compassion and the role that they both can play in the lives of the students’ and the communities and world that they are entering as college graduates.
The graduates were encouraged by the speakers and college faculty to be committed to bettering their communities and living lives of fulfillment. They answered that call of responsibility with excited cheers, hopeful smiles and a sigh of relief that they can finally check their bachelor’s degrees off of their life to-do list.
As the graduates looked forward to life on the other side of their academic degrees, Pressnell advised them that the on-going pursuit of knowledge does not end once academic study concludes.
“You thought you were done but you’re not done,” said Pressnell. “You’re going to be pursuing knowledge your whole life. You will not completely understand that which you have studied until you have a broader understanding of the human experience around you.”
Honored for Retirement
Dr. Sam Roberts and Dr. Joyce Baker
The Harry Steadman Award
Dr. Sam Roberts and Dr. Stella Roberts
The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award
Gray Wattenbarger and Jeff Cunningham
The Mary Mildred Sullivan Award
Merriam Krahala and Jerri Bryant
The Athens Area Chamber of Commerce Awards
Cody Brown and Ashley Yell