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Olivet’s Class of 2017 honored in 104th Commencement

Posted: May 10, 2017


Olivet Nazarene University conferred degrees on 1,429 graduates during the 104th Commencement Convocation.


University President John C. Bowling congratulates one of the 631 undergraduates who received bachelor's degrees in the Class of 2017.


The Enduring Class of 2017 celebrated together and then said farewells.


Olivet's School of Graduate and Continuing Studies conferred 609 master's degrees and 22 doctorate degrees for the Class of 2017.

Olivet Nazarene University conferred degrees on 1,429 graduates — including the first graduates from the public relations and strategic communication major and the special education teacher training major — during the 104th Commencement Convocation.

Degrees awarded to Olivet’s Class of 2017:
631 traditional undergraduate bachelor’s degrees
165 adult studies bachelor’s degrees
609 master’s degrees
22 doctorate degrees

Commencement ceremonies for traditional undergraduate students and those in the University’s School of Graduate and Continuing Studies highlighted a weekend of activity to recognize the accomplishments of graduates and faculty.

During the traditional undergraduate ceremony held Saturday morning, May 6, Dr. Shannon Bradshaw — a 1994 Olivet graduate — addressed the graduates and guests as the featured guest speaker. He is vice president of education for MongoDB, Inc., a software company dual-headquartered in New York City and Palo Alto, California. He leads a team of engineers responsible for the company’s online training portal, mobile apps for learning, and MongoDB documentation, which together serve more than 4 million users.

“All beginnings are hard, mostly because we just don’t know enough,” Dr. Bradshaw said in addressing the graduates. “Make your objective continuous improvement in your work and in your life. In moments of quiet reflection, you will make measurable progress in achieving your goals. And hear from God. Relatively few graduates adopt a strategy for improving. Be one of the few.”

Two honorary Doctor of Letters degrees were conferred: Dr. Max Reams, geology professor who is retiring from Olivet, and Rev. Scott Sherwood ’92 M.A.T., district superintendent for the Northwestern Illinois District of the Church of the Nazarene. Dr. Reams was also honored with a special presentation celebrating his 50-year teaching career. 

Ten students who earned bachelor’s degrees had the distinction of being Honors Program graduates.
Sarah Allison, a double major in psychology and sociology, of Carthage, New York
Erica Browning, a political science major, of Mount Vernon, Ohio
Joshua Dille, a political science major, of Bartlett, Illinois
Lisa Hartman, a history major, of Aurora, Illinois
Grace Hohn, a biochemistry major, of Grand Blanc, Michigan
Emily Lohr, a multimedia communications major, of Cleveland, Ohio
Ryan Marcotte, a music major, of Herscher, Illinois
Luke Salomone, a psychology major, of Bridgeview, Illinois
Macy (Murray) Sprunger, a biochemistry major, of Keokuk, Iowa
Andrea Wojciechowski, a double major in chemistry and biology, of Roselle, Illinois

More highlights of undergraduate Commencement:

• Maggie Sloan Crawford Award for outstanding female graduate to Andrea Wojciechowski
• Robert M. Milner Award for outstanding male graduate to Matt Reed, a political science and Spanish double major, of Plainfield, Indiana
• Samuel L. Mayhugh Award for Scholarly Excellence to Dr. Mark Frisius, professor in the School of Theology and Christian Ministry
• Richard M. Jones Award for Teaching Excellence to Dr. Don Daake, professor in the School of Business who recently retired

School of Graduate and Continuing Studies

In the Saturday afternoon ceremony, Dr. John C. Bowling, University president, addressed those receiving degrees from the Olivet School of Graduate and Continuing Studies (SGCS). “The highest purpose of higher education is transformation, the renewing of our minds, that we gain knowledge and wisdom," he said. "Use this moment to think about your life and to strengthen your own sense of self. Live with a higher purpose.”

Student and faculty awards presented during the ceremony were:
• Willis E. Snowbarger Award for Teaching Excellence presented to Dr. Douglas Garfield, a business professor in the M.B.A. program who has been a faculty member since 1994
• Ralph E. Perry Student Award of Excellence presented to Dr. Gary Hartke, a 2017 Ed.D. graduate from Olathe, Kansas. A model of a true global learner, he is the global director of Nazarene Youth International in 162 world areas with 31,000 churches and 448,000 members.

Additional recognition

Highlights of other Commencement weekend activities:

• The Friday evening Baccalaureate service. Dr. Bowling delivered the sermon, “Give Your Best to the Lord,” based on Philippians 1:27. “We are to stand our ground, and we are to take a stand for Christ,” he said. “Sometimes we say, ‘Don’t just stand there. Do something.’ The reverse is also true. The Scripture also seems to say, ‘Don’t just do something. Stand there.’” Graduates Madeline Buseth, a mathematics and intercultural studies major, of Kasota, Minnesota, and Seth Peachey gave student testimonies.
Social work pinning ceremony (28 graduates). The Spirit of Social Work Award was presented to Caroline Miller of Issaquah, Washington. “Very few have not been touched by Caroline’s desire to serve,” Dr. Rachel Guimond, department chair, said in presenting the award.
Nursing pinning ceremony (44 traditional graduates). “You transition today from student to nurse, from mentee to colleague,” said Dr. Tiffany Greer ’97, director of nursing programs, as she addressed the students. The Sigma Theta Tau, Kappa Sigma chapter, Senior Nursing Excellence Award was presented to Grace Tervin of Mokena, Illinois.
Military/ROTC commissioning ceremony. Four cadets were commissioned as new second lieutenants in the U.S. Army. “These new lieutenants are special,” said Col. Victor Hamilton as he addressed the graduates. “They are the best and brightest, our single most precious national treasure.”

To learn more about undergraduate and graduate degree programs at Olivet, contact the Office of Admissions at or 800-648-1463.