Southwestern Adventist University Celebrates Inspiring Graduation Weekend
Southwestern Adventist University Celebrates an Inspiring Graduation Weekend
May 25 2023 - 2:41pm
By: Tony Reyes
Keene, Texas – From May 5-7, 2023, Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU) celebrated its graduation weekend. The weekend's events kicked off with departmental ceremonies beginning Friday evening, with a Commissioning service for the Religion-Theology majors where Elder Stephen Brooks, Executive Secretary for the Southwestern Union Conference, reminded the now ministers that "even though we live in a dark world, we need to not adapt to darkness but let the light of Jesus shines through you." On Saturday afternoon, the Education and Psychology Department held its Dedication to Christian Service, where
keynote speaker Rosibel Ordonez shared her inspiring journey, followed by graduate awards and recognition. The School of Business also held a Recognition and Ethics Oath ceremony, where Professor Jonathan Turk reminded graduates about the importance of values-based leadership, where character and integrity are essential on their journey. The evening ended with the traditional Nurses' Pinning ceremony, where Professor Danielle Sinclair inspired the graduates on what the call to be a nurse truly means.
The weekend's climax came on Sunday morning when graduates, parents, relatives, friends, staff, and faculty members entered the Leiske-Pulsar gym, where 106 graduates would receive their diplomas. The program began with a welcome message from James The, VP for Student Services, followed by remarks from President Ana Patterson "We gather this morning to recognize the academic achievements of our graduates and to honor the fulfillment of the mission of Southwestern Adventist University, which is to inspire knowledge, faith, and service through Christ-centered education" She proceeded to thank all those who played an intricate role in the success of the university and the students. President Patterson's closing remarks focused on the three qualities of the class of 2023, "They are empathetic, determined, and resilient," said Patterson. Following the opening remarks, Penny Johnson, President and CEO of Texas Health Huguley Hospital Fort Worth South and AdventHealth's Southwest Region, shared an inspirational commencement address based on Matthew 7:24-27 titled "Where Will You Stand?" She challenged the class of 2023 to trust God with their plans and reminded them that "God will get you where He wants you, and He will do it in His time and in His way." She also emphasized
the importance of building a solid foundation on the Rock which is Jesus Christ says, "Our job is to make sure the foundation is on the Rock."
Senior Class President Ashlyn Tyler delivered the senior class response, where she reminded the graduates that "No matter what happens in this life, God is watching over us, and I will praise His name" She went on to challenge the Class of 2023 to remember that "no matter the challenges when you look back on your time here; I urge you to focus and remember the good things, the connections, the friendships that were built," and "let our praise be because we have gotten to experience something so incredibly special and heartwarming."
The event transitioned to the conferring of degrees, where Dr. Donna Berkner, VP for Academic Administration, conferred and congratulated the candidates for this new milestone in their life. Once President Patterson officialized the conferral, the graduates were invited to come forward to be recognized individually. Guest graduates included former faculty member Michael Agee, who received his Doctor of Education, and current men's residence hall dean William Iverson.
Iverson, who received his M.S. in Outdoor Education, SWAU Alumna Lindsey Johnson, who earned her M.M. in Music, also alumna Van-Dai Ly, who received her Doctor of Medicine degree; Orland Rosales, who earned his M.A. in Pastoral Ministry and Faculty member and alumna of the year Kisha Norris, who received her Ed.D. in Leadership and Management.
As the weekend celebrations came to a close, Tony Reyes, VP for Advancement, thanked parents, friends, and donors, including the Seventh-day Adventist church, for making the dream of Adventist education a reality for the Class of 2023. The ceremony wrapped up with a welcome from Alumni Department director Rosy Arizaga to the SWAU Alumni Association, where she encouraged the new alums to continue to stay connected and engaged with SWAU.