Spring Commencement Celebrated at Southern Nazarene University
Southern Nazarene University held its 115th Commencement on Saturday, May 12, 2018, conferring over 400 degrees in two ceremonies. University President, Dr. Keith Newman (pictured left), presided over his inaugural Spring Commencement, and Dr. Carla Sunberg, General Superintendent for the Church of the Nazarene, delivered the Commencement address.
Dr. Sunberg was elected to the office of General Superintendent in June 2017. At the time of her election, she was president of Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO, where she had been serving since January 2014. She and her husband, Chuck, served 13 years as pioneer missionaries to the former Soviet Union, and then as co-superintendents of the East Ohio District Church of the Nazarene. Her message to the graduates was a call to use what they had been given at SNU, beyond a first-class education, that is, the virtues of moral excellence found in Christian principles that, when practiced, will define their character in every situation. She encouraged graduates to embrace their faith and dare to be different in order to make their world, and their lives, better.
The coveted President’s Award was presented to Miss Kaylin Cummings and Mr. Travis Vernier, and returning graduates of the Class of 1968 were honored as this year’s Golden Grads. The morning ceremony concluded with the 85-year-old tradition of Ivy Ring, as this year’s graduates gathered around the Lamp of Learning on the central campus mall. Fittingly, this final act as a class took place where their undergraduate journey began with the candle-lighting service of their New Student Institute.
The afternoon ceremony for Professional and Graduate Studies programs was highlighted by the recognition of recipients of the Distinguished Achievement Award, honoring a graduate from each program group who excelled in academics, community service and leadership.
As part of the Commencement week activities, traditional program graduates gathered for a Baccalaureate service on Friday, May 11, 2018 with Dr. Fay Sheldon Quanstrom, graduate of SNU (’63) speaking. Rev. Dr. Quanstrom served in staff and pastoral roles at churches in England, Illinois and Arizona, and taught for 11 years, including positions at Northwest Nazarene University and Olivet Nazarene University.
In each of the Commencement ceremonies, Dr. Newman closed with a challenge to the graduates to hear Jesus’ words when he called us to a “Live Last” lifestyle. Dr. Newman said, “Our hope, our encouragement, our prayer is that you will go from this place and do great things – but that you will do those great things through service, by choosing to “Live Last.”
Golden Grads Model LiveLast Leadership
One of the great Commencement traditions at Southern Nazarene University is the honoring of graduates who received their diploma fifty years prior, from what was then known as Bethany Nazarene College.
This year’s ceremony featured an outstanding group of graduates from the Class of 1968. Their Golden Grad celebration began with a breakfast with President Keith Newman in the Marchant Alumni and Welcome Center on the campus of SNU. Golden Grads then participated in the morning Commencement, including the processional, with recognition of each Golden Grad during the ceremony. In addition to a celebratory luncheon that followed, each graduate who participated received a beautiful commemorative medallion featuring the seal of Bethany Nazarene College on one side, and the seal of Southern Nazarene University on the other.
This year’s Golden Grads have modeled service to others and brought honor to their alma mater. Among those able to return this year were graduates who have invested their lives in full time ministry at home and abroad, as well as business leaders, educators, medical professionals and other diverse career paths. But, bonded by transformational experiences at BNC/SNU, and guided by the Character–Culture–Christ lifestyle that was foundational in their education, they put into practice the words of Jesus in Mark 9:35 when he called his followers to be “last of all and servant of all.”
Cummings and Vernier Receive President’s Award
The highest award presented to the graduating class in the traditional program is the President’s Award. Each year, both a female and male student are recognized by the faculty and administration with this award, based on their Christian example, scholarship, appreciation of learning, loyalty and cooperation, service and leadership.
Dr. Mike Redwine, SNU’s Executive Vice President, made the announcement that Miss Kaylin Cummings and Mr. Travis Vernier had been selected as this year’s recipients of this coveted award. According to Dr. Redwine, “While all of the finalists met the criteria at the highest level, and made a lasting impact on the university, this year’s recipients were selected for their outstanding involvement in service and ministry, and their embodiment of Character-Culture-Christ.”
Kaylin Cummings is the daughter of Gary and Christi (Henderson) Cummings, of Gastonia, NC. Kaylin graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education/Social Studies. She was highly involved on campus, including symphonic band and SNU Marching Band, was Treasurer for the National Society for Leadership and Success and Secretary for the SNU Honors program.
While at SNU, Kaylin attended and served in the worship band at Calvary Church of the Nazarene in Bethany, OK and was active in the college group. She plans to teach history in the Oklahoma City area. Kaylin is now the third member of her family to receive this award. Her father, Gary, received the award in 1988, and her maternal grandmother, Sherrill (Chandler) Henderson, was the recipient in 1964.
Travis Vernier is the son of Dr. Stephen and Rebecca Vernier of Yukon, OK. Travis earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Pastoral Ministry with a minor in Military Science. He has been involved in several areas including pep band, symphonic band and jazz band, served as University Marshal his Junior year, was a member of the SNU Mortar Board, and worked as a Teaching Assistant in the Biology/Chemistry department.
While at SNU, Travis attended Bethany First Church of the Nazarene where he played lead trumpet in the orchestra, participated in bell choir and was active in the college group. After graduation, Travis will be attending the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. He plans to use his medical training to serve wherever God may send him.
Dr. Keith Newman presented a beautiful Scott Stearman sculpture to each recipient and said of them, “Kaylin and Travis exemplify the servant-leadership we hope will be developed or enhanced during a student’s years at SNU. We know that they leave SNU prepared to embrace the challenges of life and model for their co-workers, or fellow graduate students, what it means to LiveLast, a lifestyle based on the words of Jesus, who invites us to put the needs of others ahead of our own.” He added, “The legacy they leave for our campus invites future students to follow in their footsteps. We are proud of Kaylin and Travis, and look forward to seeing how God uses them to make a contribution to our world.”