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Averett University Confers Almost 300 Degrees in May Commencement

Posted on May 6th, 2017 by Cassie Jones

Shoulder to shoulder, almost 300 graduates stood proudly together a waiting to receive the diploma for which they’ve worked so hard. With friends and family in the stands of the E. Stuart James Grant Center, Saturday, May, 6 was a day filled with smiles and the feeling of accomplishment for the new alumni of the Averett Family.

The graduating class of 295 included students from Finland, Sweden and 28 United States veterans. More than 150 graduates completed their degrees through the University’s Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS) program, and almost 140 were traditional graduates.

Following the pomp and circumstance of the processional, invocation and national anthem, and after the welcoming remarks and recognitions, Averett President Dr. Tiffany Franks introduced the commencement speaker, whom she summed up in one word: “phenomenal.”

“This generous man, who has volunteered his time today to talk with you, is a national and international powerhouse, promoting the philosophy of serving, of caring, of loving one another,” she said. “All of you in this graduating class know the emphasis that Averett places on service-learning. It helps you, it helps the community, it helps Averett, it helps the world. If we’re lucky, John Bridgeland will describe his own world a little for you, a world in which service truly does make our lives better, and he’ll ignite a spark within you that will make this graduation day and the rest of your lives even more memorable and meaningful.”

Bridgeland, founder and CEO of Civic Enterprises, policy leader and civic service pioneer, described his path to a life of service, and some of the lessons he has learned along the way.

“I learned that it’s not enough to pursue your profession,” said Bridgeland. “Your life’s work can’t be only for the sake of your own comfort. In order for your life to have meaning, you must choose a life of services in some way.

“You do not and should not wait around looking for our national leaders to change the country or world, you should start now. The 21st century is yours to build – make it something history will remember.

“Why should you serve? Because we owe something to a country that enables us to live in freedom and has helped you get a wonderful education. Service is in America’s DNA, service is in Averett’s DNA, and therefore service is in your DNA,” he said.

After his well-received speech, Bridgeland was presented an honorary degree from Averett because of his lengthy list of accomplishments and his relentless commitment to service.

Dr. Timothy Fulop, vice president of academic affairs and student success, then presented the graduates and recognized those receiving awards, including:

Traditional Undergraduate Awards:

  • Mary C. Fugate: Brooke Nicole Miller
  • Grace V. Crenshaw: Brandon James Couden
  • L. Davenport Award For Excellence: Brandon James Couden
  • Curtis Bishop Award: Elizabeth Claire Kueng
  • American Legion Citizenship Award: Brooke Nicole Miller

Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS) Awards:

  • Malcolm Knowles Award: Jaime Angel Maese
  • Frank Campbell Award: Terry Lee Fulton

Other Awards:

  • Elizabeth and James Bustard Distinguished Awards: Phillip Agrentieri, Jessica Long, Katie Richardson and Jordan Webster