Averett University Confers More Than 150 Degrees to Graduates in Winter Commencement

Posted on December 9th, 2017 by Danielle Staub

The snow falling outside the doors of the University’s E. Stuart James Grant Athletic and Convocation Center on North Campus didn’t stop more than 150 graduates at Averett University’s Winter Commencement from marching proudly to receive their diplomas in front of their family and friends.

This December, two-thirds of the graduates completed their degrees within the University’s Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS) program, while the rest were graduating from the traditional program. Graduates ranged in age from 20 to 63. Thirty-four of the graduates completed their degree in August, but are participating by walking in the Winter Commencement ceremony. Among the graduates were 23 United States veterans, as well as four international students from three foreign countries: Ecuador, Finland and Sweden.

Following the procession, an invocation from University Chaplain Skyler Daniel and the national anthem, Dr. Tiffany Franks, president of Averett University, welcomed the graduates, thanking them for braving the weather and for being a part of the Averett family.

“That saying is, ‘You can’t choose your family.’ Have you heard that? Of course, it means we are born into some relationships, and we don’t get to choose our parents and other relatives. Well, that’s true, and not true,” said Franks. “After all, you chose to attend Averett University … and, equally important, we chose you. I am very glad that we did – and that you did. Look how successful you’ve been.”

Dr. Franks then introduced the keynote speaker, U.S. Army Lieutenant General Laura Richardson, calling her nothing short of extraordinary.

“And to do everything so well, you’re named the very first female Army officer to become the Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Forces Command. Just in case you’re not familiar with military service ranks and positions, know that her Forces Command is the largest in the U.S. Army, comprising more than 750,000 active soldiers,” Franks said.

LTG Richardson approached the podium, welcomed with a standing ovation from the crowd in the Grant Center.

She began her time by thanking the University for their support of America’s veterans. She spoke of the University’s motto, “irretrievable time,” and how “professional relationships, caring leadership and personal courage must be part of irretrievable time. You must be able to embrace change as an individual.”

LTG Richardson told the graduates that even though the events of this world may overwhelm us at times, that these “changes we face today are actually manageable when you take time to look at our history.”

Referencing several famous generals who served the nation throughout history, LTG Richardson told the graduates, “If you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.” Because you should never underestimate, “the power of one person to unite the group, one person to inspire those around them and the power of one person to give them hope.”

“I have great hope for the future, and the ideals that we stand for are manifested in individuals like you, because you are our future. I challenge all of you to use this great gift of education to make a difference. Dedicate yourself to something with passion. Strive to make it better for yourself and your children,” LTG Richardson said.

As the graduates threw their caps with shouts of joy, Dr. Franks finalized the ceremony with supportive words.

“From this day forward, you and other Averett alumni will serve as mentors, as connections, as resources and as supportive family members to each other…and I’m talking about thousands and thousands of Averett alumni who live, work and prosper all around the globe,” Franks told the graduates.

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

Traditional Undergraduate Awards:

  • Mary C. Fugate Award – An award to the Bachelor recipient with the highest grade point average, presented today to Sarah Alaine Smoot.
  • Grace V. Crenshaw Award – An award to the Bachelor recipient with the second highest grade point average, presented today to Joel Robert Johnson.

Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS) Awards:

  • Malcolm Knowles Award – An award to the GPS Bachelor recipient with the highest grade point average, presented today to Richard Charles Hooper.
  • Frank Campbell Award – An award to the GPS Bachelor recipient with the second highest grade point average, presented today to Michael Alan Compton.