Southwestern Adventist University Celebrates 150 in the Class of 2022

Southwestern Adventist University Celebrates 150 in the Class of 2022

Michelle Bergmann

Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU) welcomed family and friends of the Class of 2022 for graduation weekend April 29-May 1, 2022. Graduation celebration ceremonies officially began on Friday evening, April 29, as The Department of Religion held their Theology Commissioning Service. On Saturday afternoon at Wharton Auditorium the Department of Business and Administration held a recognition and reception for graduates. Concurrently the Department of Education and Psychology held its dedication service for its graduates at the Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church, followed by the Nurses’ Pinning Ceremony later that evening. 

On Sunday, May 1, 2022, SWAU faculty, staff, graduates, friends, and family met for commencement at the Cleburne ISD Jeff D. Cody Auditorium. Officiating for the first time was newly inaugurated Southwestern Adventist University President Ana Patterson. She inspired graduates with her message, “Today is a day for celebration as you reach a milestone in your life journey! Today you receive a diploma that represents not only the knowledge you have gained, but also the perseverance and character developed through the process of higher education. As your journey continues, you may face uncertainty, but you can always be sure that God will be your guide. ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take,’” she quoted from Proverbs 3:5, 6, New Living Translation. “Trust that Christ has a plan for you, and that He will give you wisdom and strength to walk courageously into tomorrow.” 

The commencement address, entitled “Dreaming the Impossible,” was given by Dr. Carlton P. Byrd, president of the Southwest Region Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and SWAU Board of Trustees member. In his challenge to the graduates, Dr. Byrd, reflecting on the life of the biblical character, Joseph, admonished graduates to beware of dream killers, to remember that dreams can be dangerous, to put their dreams under God’s authority, and to keep on dreaming!  

After the commencement address Esther Sousa, class president, addressed her classmates and the audience, “The college experience is about more than merely attending lectures and completing assignments. It is a combination of solidifying your identity, your likes, and your core beliefs. It showcases the parts of you that you did not know existed. It pushes you to your full potential if you allow it to,” she said. As she ended her speech she encouraged her classmates, “Remember to take God with you wherever you go. Remember to be the light in the world that people need to see. Remember to choose kindness. Remember to love life. And remember that anything is possible when you have God on your side.” 

Just before the conferring of degrees, Dr. Donna Berkner, vice president of academic administration, presented the Class of 2022 statistics. Out of this year’s 150 graduates, 103 are women and 47 are men; 38 are the first in their family to graduate from college; 42 have family members who graduated from SWAU; and 13 are F-1 international students representing The Bahamas, Mexico, Rwanda, Papua New Guinea, China, India, Vietnam, Haiti, and South Korea. Also, one hundred percent of this year’s class participated in more than one service project while they were students. 

After sharing the graduating class statistics, Dr. Berkner asked SWAU President Ana Patterson to join her, and then she called graduate Brendon Ezra Kilanda to the stage. President Patterson and Dr. Berkner recognized Brendan with an award as Dr. Berkner explained, “We are going to recognize one student who is the first to graduate in his family. Also, this is the first degree we have ever awarded to someone from Papua New Guinea, and we want to celebrate that! The audience wholeheartedly clapped their approval for Brendon Ezra Kilanda who earned a degree in accounting. 

As the ceremony closed, Leonel Warner (’15), an alumni board member, welcomed the graduates into the fellowship of the alumni association while reminding them that they will always have a home at Southwestern Adventist University. 

The faculty, staff, and students of SWAU offer best wishes to the Class of 2022 and pray over them the Mizpah prayer in remembrance of the Mizpah Gate at the campus entrance, “May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other” (New International Version). 

View pictures from the weekend by visiting our Flicker album.

Southwestern Adventist University has been offering Christ-centered education by inspiring knowledge, faith, and service in Keene, Texas, since 1893. U. S. News and World Report ranks the University No. 11 overall in its 2021 Regional Colleges West rankings and No. 2 for Social Mobility. Niche ranks SWAU as one of Texas’ safest colleges. SWAU offers a uniquely diverse and personal college experience. For information, call 800-433-2240 or visit 

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