Commencements are like funerals: black robes, serious marching, and tearful goodbyes.
Commencements are like heart surgery: the staff has done it many times, but for the patient and family, it’s a first.
But they are also like birth—celebrated with hope and fear, joy and love.
Literally, “commencement” goes back to the Latin root that means “to begin,” but the prefix on it, the “com-“ is an intensive: that is, a commencement is an intense beginning. No question about that.
On Friday evening, May 13, the class of 2016 experienced all of this in a glorious service of praise to God and honor to graduates. President Brian Smith and Vice President for Academic Affairs Perry Stepp presided. Mr. Clif Davis, chair of the DCC board, presented diplomas.
Forty-five graduates received degrees. Of this group, 24 are men, 21 are women; 31 are from the traditional program, 14 from non-traditional and FLEXCampus. The average GPA is 3.18, and 40% graduated with honors. They came to DCC from Texas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Mexico, Kenya, and Nigeria. They have plans to serve in local church, para-church, and inter-cultural ministries (44%), in business (15%), and in teaching (22%), with 52% planning on graduate school.
Speaker was Dr. Greg Pruett, president of Pioneer Bible Translators. He addressed the graduates as he would his own daughter, also nearing graduation. Relying on Ephesians 2.4-10, he emphasized finding your purpose. He pointed out that the road ahead is stretched out with good works to be done. “Do the good work before you,” he exhorted. Do not sit still, but get moving and let God guide. “Never say no to God….Think about the choices you are making now….Pray and listen and move….Serve from your strengths, from the things that, when you do them, make you feel strong….Read the Bible and pray—every day.” And finally, “pick up your bucket and lead something,” illustrated from his own experience mobilizing his neighbors to put out the fire that was threatening their whole village in West Africa. (One graduate, when asked afterward what his next step in life would be, replied, “I don’t know yet—but I’m picking up my bucket.”)
Honors in this year’s class included a tie for valedictorian: Adrianna Walton-Rogers and Benjamin L. Lantzer, with GPA of 3.93. Salutatorian is Daniel Vrooman, with a 3.91. Joshua P. Smith was awarded the C. C. Crawford Merit Award.
Before graduate honors were conferred, President Smith honored two former trustees for their long-time service to the board—Mr. Paul Diaz of Southwest Christian in Austin, and Dr. Keith Keeran of Kentucky Christian University.
Music for the occasion was led by Mr. Scott Spies, accompanied by Mrs. Bonnie Graem, of the Worship Arts Department. The DCC choir sang two numbers, “The Name of Jesus,” by Craig Courtney ” and “Canticle of Hope,” by Jose
ph M. Martin. Trio of seniors, Josh Bower, Amarys Chavez, and Caitlin Martin, led the congregational singing—“Only King Forever,” “Holy Spirit,” the DCCAlma Mater, by James Earl Ladd II, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” “Cornerstone,” and “This I Believe (The Creed).” Other musicians were Kyle Payne (electric guitar), France Pace (bass guitar), Amy Ruiz (keyboard), and Grant Thompson (of Compass Christian, drums). Prelude by Mr. Spies and Mrs. Graem, was “Jubilate,” by Darwin Wilford, processional was “Pomp and Circumstance Theme,” by Edward Elgar, and postlude was “March of the Priests,” by Felix Mendelssohn.
Although this was a college event, not “church,” it was a gathering of many members of the body of Christ, a body that is very much alive. He was clearly present in every aspect of the evening, all of which was inspired by music and prayer, sharing in the Word, and then the sending forth of the graduates.
Commencements are like a rocket launch: graduates, you’ve been given what you need, and now you’re blasted into space! But God is with you!
Dr. Cara Snyder is professor of English and literature at Dallas Christian College and managing editor and senior writer at the Cornerstone.