The crowd sat hushed as the capped and gowned students strode across the stage—entering as students and exiting as college graduates. During the 47th Commencement Ceremonies, Pensacola Christian College conferred over 870 degrees to undergraduate and graduate students representing all 50 states and 24 foreign countries or territories.
This year’s events consisted of three ceremonies over two days, providing graduates more seats to reserve for visiting family and friends. Leading up to these special days, students were granted honors and awards during chapel services, setting the tone to offer congratulations to those turning their tassels.
Families, guests, and livestream viewers enjoyed a special music video entitled “By Faith,” featuring the Proclaim Ministry Teams, with soloist Bennet Roberts (So., FL). The song, by Keith and Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend, complemented the senior class theme, Walk Worthy (Ephesians 4:1). The video follows the senior class president, Mateo Bernsdorff (Engineering: Mechanical ’22), making his way to the Crowne Centre stage as a new graduate.
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.”—Ephesians 4:1
The College expresses respect and appreciation to those who walk worthy and have displayed exceptional leadership and service. This year, April C. Wood (Pre-law ’94) received Honorary Doctor of Laws and Mitchell Denis McBride received Honorary Doctor of Letters. Wood gave the Commencement address, where she challenged graduates to stand up for Christian values and maintain a spirit of learning. “This is indeed your day, and you deserve special recognition,” she said. “You’ve worked hard, but the work’s not over. Now, you must continue your education through daily learning. You must resolve to grow spiritually, intellectually, morally, and professionally, every single day. Strive to learn something new each day.”
Thursday Commencement Ceremony
On Thursday evening, May 12, the undergraduate and graduate nursing students were the first to cross the Commencement stage. Before degrees were conferred, undergraduate nurses took part in the Nurses’ Pinning and Lamp Lighting ceremony. With overflowing pride, parents and close family members pinned their graduate’s robe with the PCC nursing pin. As all the graduates received their diplomas, each also earned their lamp, paying tribute to Florence Nightingale, whose lamp brought hope to the injured during the Crimean War. Once tassels were turned and audience cheers quieted, the nurses completed the ceremony by reciting the Florence Nightingale pledge.
During the ceremony, Brianna Lefler (Nursing ’22) was honored with the Excellence Award, an award presented to a graduating nursing student who best represents academic achievement, the integration of Christian principles, and the high standards of the nursing profession.
Friday Commencement Ceremonies
Graduating students in Arts and Sciences, Biblical Studies, Seminary, Professional Studies, Visual and Performing Arts, and Graduate Studies were honored during two separate ceremonies on Friday, May 13.
Traditionally, two outstanding graduates are awarded the President’s Citation of Merit. These graduates embody the mission and purpose of the College through their personal character and values. This year, Ethan Granata (Pastoral Ministries ’22) and Bailey Goforth (Elementary Education ’22) were each honored with this coveted award.
During the final ceremony, College President Troy Shoemaker drew attention to two empty seats at the front of the auditorium, each marked with regalia and bouquets. As the last two degrees to be conferred, In Memoriam Bachelor of Science degrees were given to Timothy Cullen Hatch and J.R. Hill V, who had both passed away suddenly in 2021. “The entire PCC community expresses heartfelt support,” President Shoemaker said, addressing the two families. “We hope you will accept this as an acknowledgment of your sons’ academic achievement at Pensacola Christian College. I know you were proud of them. We were too.”
Hearing From the Graduates
The new graduates reunited with their friends and families across campus—in the Crowne Centre lobby, by the oak trees at Founder’s Garden, and in front of the MacKenzie Building. Many realized the significance of the day: not just to honor their achievement, but to mark the end of their PCC journey.
Nathan Pham (Nursing ’22) appreciated classes like Community Health Nursing. “That was a class where I could see a broader field of nursing,” he said. “It let me see all the types of clinics. And that to me was more helpful, because it helped me decide what I wanted to do.”
Mary Kate Green (History Education, Speech Education ’22) is excited to begin working at Disney, where she was accepted in their Academic Exchange Program, but she’ll miss being nearby her college friends. “Go to Freshman Connect. That’s my biggest advice for freshmen,” she said. “That’s where I met all my friends. And just enjoy every single moment. Don’t look forward too much to graduation. Don’t be so focused on it that you miss living in the moments that you have.”
Graduate student Tobi Adegunloye (Computer Science/Software Engineering ’19) earned his M.B.A. with an Information Technology specialization. He’s thankful for the smooth transition to working on a graduate degree at his alma mater. “There are a lot of things that stay exactly the same. But the experience as an undergraduate versus a graduate is completely different,” he said. As a graduate assistant, he worked in the College’s IT Department. “Being able to be more of an influence and see how the day-to-day running of the school occurs—just getting that behind-the-scenes look at everything and getting a chance to influence students was a blessing.”
Looking over his time at PCC, Walker Horton (Sport Management ’22) knows he’s going to miss the encouraging atmosphere on campus. “I think I will miss the emphasis on God that is prevalent here,” he shared. “With chapel every day and the friends that you get to know throughout the four years—each year, there are more people for you meet, and just the friendliness of everybody is great. It’s very warm and welcoming, and I love that.”
Now that her studies are done, Savannah McDaniel (Marketing ’22) is eager to spend time with her family. Looking forward to an upcoming interview with Samaritan’s Purse, she said, “I’m excited to get into the field I’m so passionate about and impact people’s lives. Seems like a lot of fun doing.”
While Commencement marks the end of one journey, it also begins another.
Congratulations, Class of 2022! You’ve crossed into the next stage of your lives. May God guide you well into the future ahead.