Life bustled across campus! Vans and vehicles sat piled with totes and suitcases, while groups of friends met for quick group photos and farewells. Meanwhile, graduates dressed in that familiar cap and gown briskly made their way toward the Crowne Centre for one of four special ceremonies.
To allow friends and families of the 2021 graduates to enjoy Forty-Sixth Commencement ceremonies in person, Commencement was adjusted for four events over two days, and non-graduating students were able to leave after their finals and work responsibilities were completed. Over 950 degrees were conferred upon undergraduate, seminary, and graduate students who represented 49 states and 32 foreign countries or territories. Thirty students completed the requirements for two majors, and over 140 of the class of 2020 graduates returned to take part in these events.
Along with each ceremony, families, guests, and livestream viewers were treated to a special video commissioned specially for these reimagined ceremonies. The talents of the Symphonic Choir and PCCymphony were brought together under the direction of Dr. Timothy Willingham to perform “God Of Heaven,” a song written and composed by PCC alumna Heather Sorenson (Music: Sacred Piano ’97). The video, themed after Commencement, reminded listeners that these events brought honor to God first as well as to the graduating students.
Students were honored with all the pomp and circumstance their accomplishments deserved. On Thursday, May 13, students earning degrees in Nursing and Arts & Sciences concentrations were conferred degrees in two separate Commencement ceremonies. Professional Studies and Biblical Studies, Visual & Performing Arts, and Graduate and Seminary concentrations were conferred degrees during ceremonies on Friday, May 14.
Before conferring the nursing degrees, nursing graduates were also recognized and honored for their dedication and sacrifice with a Nurses’ Pinning and Lamp Lighting ceremony. A friend or family member presented the PCC nursing pin to their graduate at their seat in the Crowne Centre auditorium, and each student was given a lamp that is symbolic of the nursing profession. The lamp pays tribute to Florence Nightingale who made history along with 38 other female nurses by tending to the needs of sick and wounded soldiers during the Crimean War.
The College also awards the President’s Citation of Merit to two students who, in the opinion of the administration, are outstanding graduates who embody the mission and purpose of the College through their personal character and values. This year, the award was presented to Madison Schrock (Legal Office Administration ’20) and Chris Montgomery (Pastoral Ministries ’21).
Receiving an honorary doctorate from PCC is an expression of respect and appreciation from the College as a Christian academic institution to those who have displayed exceptional leadership and service in their ministry vocation. These degrees were given to Joseph Bradley Edmondson (Pastoral Ministries ’01), who was conferred an Honorary Doctor of Divinity, and Francis James Sherwin III, an Honorary Doctorate of Science.
After each ceremony, graduates dispersed throughout the Crowne Centre and grassy areas on campus, taking photos, exchanging congratulations and best wishes to their peers, and celebrating with their families.
“I was just really thankful for the opportunity to have my family here and have them see the world here and celebrate this time with us,” said Emily Hodges (Marketing ’21). “I will miss the faculty, the business department, their influence on my life, and their wisdom. I will miss being able to see them every day for classes and talk to them. Really, they were like friends.”
As a 2020 graduate, Megan Jones (Biology Education) appreciated the invitation to walk in the 2021 ceremonies. “It’s a great honor, and I’m really glad that they accepted us back [for Commencement]. I felt like they really cared about us,” she said.
Jared Page’s (Sport Management ’21) favorite college event was the Christmas Missions Run in 2019, and his favorite class was Coaching Basketball (PE 323) with Coach Jared Sellars. “I want to be a basketball coach,” he said. “I feel like that class helped prepare me for being a coach and to coach others to do a fantastic job. And also my internship with Coach Sellars—to be able to learn under him and understand how his mind works through basketball—was definitely my most favorite class.”
Zach Wright (Management ’21) will miss the comradery with the guys on his hall and the Christian atmosphere he’s readily enjoyed on campus. “It’s good to have people that are like-minded or in the same stage of life. They are with you, whether you’re struggling together or urging each other,” he said. “It’s good to have friends like that with and around you, and this place has definitely provided that.”
As a student, Tia Korbe (Early Childhood ’20) enjoyed events like Midnight Madness in the Sports Center, and always got a laugh during the antics that came with late-night fire drills. Now, she’s glad to top it all off with a formal ceremony. “I wasn’t going to go to college, but then accomplishing such a great thing in my life and having this ceremony to recognize the accomplishments I made—I was very excited that they were able to do this for us,” she said.
Now, new chapters await! With degrees conferred, awards received, and tassels turned, these graduates are ready to venture out and influence their world for Christ.
Congratulations, class of 2020 and 2021! We will be praying for you as you continue your journeys as a PCC graduate!