111th ONU Commencement Ceremony Celebrates the Academic Accomplishments of 846 Olivet Graduates

Lauren Beatty

May 13, 2024 Academics, Accolades, Alumni & Friends, Campus Life

Members of the Class of 2024 at Olivet Nazarene University spent the first week of May completing their final papers, exams, projects and presentations before celebrating with senior week activities. The Office of Student Development and members of the senior class planned outings like a Chicago Cubs game, an on-campus worship night, free movie tickets to a local theatre and coffees and ice cream treats in the nearby village of Manteno.

Throughout the week, many academic departments hosted award, pinning and commissioning ceremonies to honor the accomplishments of graduating seniors including the Department of Social Work, the Department of Education, the School of Nursing, the McGraw School of Business, the Department of Mathematics and the University Honors Program.

On Friday, May 10, the campus community gathered for the Baccalaureate service in Hawkins Centennial Chapel to worship together. Special music was provided by the wind ensemble, Orpheus Choir, and the University Orchestra. President Emeritus Dr. John C. Bowling ’71 gave the invocation and a special reflection on how the Class of 2024 persevered through the unique challenges that COVID had on the first part of their college experiences.

Two outstanding graduates, Regan-Tyler Hayes and Nathan Foor, shared their testimonies of how their lives were impacted by an Olivet education. Regan-Tyler majored in general studies and Nathan triple majored in business administration, economics-finance and marketing.

Senior Jordyn Burke, introduced University President Dr. Gregg A. Chenoweth ’90, who spoke a message of inspiration and encouragement over the graduates—reminding them that their degrees provide credentials for the workplace, but their faith journey is a commissioning.

“Tomorrow, Olivet credentials you, but tonight we also commission you,” said Dr. Chenoweth. “Credentialing without commissioning is work halfway done. It is like climbing a ladder of success, only to realize later that all along it was leaning on the wrong building all along. … The commission is not for career but calling. …A loving God knows your capacities and your limits. In the mess of life, as you endure, the Holy Spirit will sustain you. …Graduates: we commission you personally, we love you. Be excellent in your credential and consequential in your calling. May the Lord bless and keep you.”

The 111th Commencement Ceremony on Saturday morning marked the academic achievements of this class with the conferral of 501 bachelor’s degrees in Hawkins Centennial Chapel.

Following the processional of the faculty and the candidates, the National Anthem was sung by graduate Marisa Constantino.

Guest speakers included Leah Marangu ’65, mother of graduate Kinya Marangu, who gave the invocation; Lisa Evans ’90, mother of graduate Jordan Evans, who read the scripture, Mathew 6: 19-33; and Dr. Teresa Woodruff ’85, president emeritus and research foundation professor at Michigan State University, who gave the commencement address.

“We start today, by praising God, from whom all blessings come,” Dr. Woodruff began her message, encouraging the graduates to recognize the friends, roommates, family members and faculty for their impact on the educational journeys. “As you go, you are joining over 50,000 living alumni who have prayed for you every day… We know that your road today has been different than any other class. Through your Olivet education, you learned how to be the solution to the world’s greatest needs… We will come along side you as you continue to go forward in life. We believed you belong here, but now we believe you must go… Graduates: it is now time to rise and give God the glory!”

Following the conferring of the undergraduate degrees, five graduates were commissioned by Captain Brock Trexler as second lieutenants in the United States Army. These included Nicholas Carrell, Chinguun Gankhuleg, Thaliya Martinez, Cassandra Pichardo and Kiley Sowa.

As a member of the class of 1974, which celebrated 50 years since its own college graduation, Harvey Gifford charged the graduating class with encouragement and a blessing.

“[Class of} 2024, there is greatness in you,” he said. “We are counting on you to make positive change in a rapidly changing world… Practice integrity, practice compassion in everything you do. You see, doing the right thing is timeless; it’s never out of style… We pray that every member of the class of 2024 will always give your utmost for His highest in all your actions and endeavors. The Class of 1974 wishes you peace.”

Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Stephen Lowe ’88 then presented Dr. Justin Brown with the Richard M. Jones Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence, and Dr. Simone Twibell ’06/M.A. ’07with the Samuel L. Mayhugh Award for Scholarly Excellence.

Dr. Jason Stephens, Vice President for Student Development, recognized Hope Trainor and Noah DeLong as recipients of the Maggie Sloan Crawford and Robert Milner awards for outstanding female and male graduates. Hope double-majored in social work and criminal justice, and Noah majored in social science education.

The ceremony concluded with the singing of the Alma Mater, led by Dr. Neal Woodruff ’91, and the benediction given by Dr. Charles Perabeau ’94.

In a separate ceremony on Saturday afternoon, 345 graduate and continuing studies degrees were conferred. Rev. Jasper Taylor ’10, Senior Pastor of the Broadview Missionary Baptist Church, provided the commencement address. Dr. Suzanne Philips, M.S.N. Program Director in the School of Nursing presented Dr. Jay Martinson ’86 with the Willis E. Snowbarger Award for Teaching Excellence, and Dr. Debra Hart with the Ralph. E. Perry Award for Student Excellence.

To learn more about Olivet’s undergraduate and graduate degree programs, contact the Office of Admissions at admissions@olivet.edu or 800-648-1463.

For more photos, visit Olivet Nazarene University on Facebook.

Lauren Beatty

Lauren Beatty ’13 is a freelance writer, author, editor, artist and an adjunct professor in the Department of Communication at Olivet. She earned a Master of Arts degree in cross-cultural and sustainable business management from the American University of Paris in 2014. Her thesis explored the evolution of socially responsible business practices in America.

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

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