Six Commencement Ceremonies Honor Grads
Graduates, their families, and members of the Lee community gathered this past weekend for the first in-person commencement ceremonies since December 2019. Six separate services, recognizing more than 690 graduates, took place in the Paul Dana Walker Arena, while also being livestreamed in venues across campus for additional guests.
"We are pumped to be able to do this for the first time in over a year," said Lee President Dr. Mark Walker as he welcomed graduates and their guests during one of the Friday services. "This is a great day, we are grateful for it, and we are excited to celebrate all of your accomplishments."
Each of the six ceremonies, honoring graduates from designated schools/departments, featured elements from both the traditional Commissioning and Commencement exercises, including student speakers, presentation of Bibles, and conferral of degrees.
In lieu of a keynote speaker, two different graduates shared their Lee experience in each service. The graduate speakers were Julia Laba, earning her degree in digital media with minors in humanities and graphic design; Lauren Mills, music education with emphasis in voice; Blaire Terrell, biological science, pre-physician assistant; Brianna Westphalen, psychology; Mallory Smolen, discipleship ministry with a minor in children's ministry; Esteban "Steven" Ocasio, ministry leadership; Ashley Souther, earning her Master of Business Administration; Ghalysa Swann, master's in marriage and family therapy; Terrence Council, physical education; Lily Robinson, Spanish and public administration; Kaylyn Dillon, accounting; and Derek Flatford, political science with minors in pre-law and deaf studies.
"Having the opportunity to finish my education was a prayer that I prayed daily, though I thought it might never come true," said Council. "But God answered my prayer, He brought me to Lee, and gave me a community here to belong to, a place to fit in. I don't know how it happened, but I know God had his hand in it every step of the way."
Following the student presentations and special music provided by Lee Singers, Lee Provost Dr. Debbie Murray announced each of the graduates as Walker presented their diplomas. Sixty-one of the 691 graduates honored during the ceremonies were 2020 graduates who returned to march across the stage, since all 2020 celebrations were held virtually.
All graduates also received a Bible, presented by vice president for Student Development Dr. Mike Hayes and inscribed by Walker and Lee Chancellor Dr. Paul Conn.
An outdoor reception was held following each of the services, providing an opportunity for families to celebrate together.
To view the ceremonies in their entirety, visit livestream.com/leeu.
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