Celebrating the Class of 2017

By:
Darcy Force

Graduation weekend dawned bright and sunny at Southwestern Adventist University.  The weekend included superb speakers, a nursing pinning, a theology dedication, and awards receptions for the Education, Psychology, and Business departments.  It also included delightful music featuring students, including an organ prelude by Bachelor of Music graduate Erika Martinez and a piano duet between Bachelor of Science Biology graduate Jae-Min Park and Mrs. Ann Shaw. 

There was even a baptism.  Hannah, who graduated this weekend with a business degree, stood up with Katie for the baptism.  They met in the English as a Second Language program, one girl from Korea and the other from Brazil. Hannah was the one who helped Katie get to know about Jesus Christ when she had questions.  They studied the BIble together.  Katie went back home after completing her ESL certification.  When Hannah invited Katie back to campus to see her graduate, Katie knew the time was right.  She asked to be baptized this weekend because "it was at Southwestern that I first met Jesus."

The class of 2017 officially graduated on Sunday, May 7, with 154 graduates.  Keith Gray, an alum and former faculty member, was the Commencement speaker.  Gray, currently the Dean of the School of Leadership for North Dallas Adventist Academy, encouraged the graduates to choose their influences wisely and to continue challenging themselves.  “If you’re the smartest person in the room, it is time to move to a new room,” Gray said.  He also reminded the graduates that while this graduation ceremony was a huge step and one to celebrate, to not forget that their decisions and life choices would also lead to a heavenly graduation ceremony with a future in the presence of our Heavenly Father.

Before the presentation of the diplomas, Vice President for Academic Administration Amy Rosenthal shared some unique characteristics of the class, including one set of siblings, one parent/child set, one couple graduating together, two children of University staff, six former English as a Second Language students, four students who attended Keene Adventist Elementary, and nine alumni of Chisholm Trail Academy.  

Officiating over the graduation ceremony, President Ken Shaw shared, “This is one of the best days of the year for us.  We are so happy to be celebrating the achievements of our students.  Having family members and friends on campus made the day extra special.  This is what Southwestern Adventist University is all about, educating the future leaders of tomorrow and enabling them to be impactful in community service all within a loving Christian environment.  We are so very proud of each graduate and we wish them the very best.”

The class also represented Southwestern's celebrated diversity with seven International students representing Angola, Cayman Islands, Mexico, Slovakia, South Korea, and Vietnam.  Acting on the University tagline, Knowledge, Faith, Service, more than 40% of the graduates were actively involved in Community Outreach projects.  Thirty-four graduates had the honor of being the first in their family to graduate college.  Another thirty-one carried on their family legacy by following family members to Southwestern Adventist University.  

Of the 154 graduates, many already have jobs or have been accepted into graduate or doctorate programs.  These graduate and doctorate programs are at schools around the nation, including Andrews University, Baylor University, Dallas Baptist University, Georgetown University, Long School of Medicine, Loma Linda School of Medicine, Loma Linda School of Nursing (Doctorate of Nursing Practice), Southwestern Adventist University, Texas Christian University, Texas Women’s University, University of Houston, University of Texas at Arlington, University of Texas San Antonio Medical School, and Walla Walla University.

Congratulations Class of 2017!