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by Joel Washburnwashburn@mckenziebanner.comMcKENZIE (August 1) — Bethel University held a combined spring and summer commencement in a single ceremony on August 1 at Wildcat Stadium. The …
by Joel Washburn
McKENZIE (August 1) — Bethel University held a combined spring and summer commencement in a single ceremony on August 1 at Wildcat Stadium. The COVID-19 pandemic closed the campus in March and delayed plans for the spring commencement ceremony, usually held in the Crisp Arena.
The number of guests per graduate was limited and socially distanced in the bleacher area and graduates were spaced significantly apart in chairs on the playing surface. Each graduate was issued a mask with the Bethel logo imprinted on it.
Each graduate’s name was announced, crossed the elevated platform, and picked up their diploma after it was placed on a table by President Walter Butler. To eliminate the spread of the virus, there was no shaking of hands and no posing for photographs on the stage.
Bethel President Walter Butler was the commencement speaker for the event. He praised the students for their perseverance.
He told the graduates that their time as students made them, the faculty, and staff stronger.
“You, our guests and I have learned to adjust, to turn on a moment’s notice to persevere. You and I have learned to preserve as individuals and as a member of a team, whether family or a church or a community or with other students. We are learning that it is okay to work together and it is okay to ask for help.
You praised the students for not quitting, noting that no one would have blamed them if they did.
“You have persevered through hard classes, sickness, death, watching racial injustice unfold, a COVID-19 outbreak, and hard financial times. You are strong.”
He provided five thoughts for graduates to remember.
1. There is always a way to win.
2. Hope is not a strategy.
3. We must be continually coachable.
4. Drive change, don’t follow it.
5. Prepare to win, not to compete.
“I pray God’s blessings for you and yours. Bethel University loves you and is proud of you. May each step you take and each breath you breath be used for the Glory of God,” concluded Butler.
Local graduates from McKenzie and Carroll County included: Tyler Grant Alexander, Jaiquan Buckley, Kevin Carrion, Haley Alyse Collins, Cletis Anderson Foster, Jr., Sasha Alexandria Gilbert, Kensley Brooke Horner, Mitchell Thomas Lunn, Trevor McKenzie Roof, Dillon Ryan Simpson, Jack McKendree Surber, Ashley Gail Bush, Desiree Alexis Johnson, Michael Thomas Campbell, Arianna Paige Whaley, Joshua R. Keenan, Cleveland Tingle, Maude Ellan Gouge, Mildred Diane Howland, Ashley Megan Inman, William Brady Jackson, Haylee Lauren Lawler, Sabrina Lee McCaslin, Richard Houston Reeves, Elyse Lynch Henderson, Amber Dawn Sam, Jennifer A. Ashby, Mia McCain, Kirsten Elise Smith, Brittney Nicole Steele, Chesney Mackenzie White, Shay-Lynne Williams and Savanna Carolyn Wilson.