78 Seniors Get Diplomas during 26th Winter Commencement

By Chris Shoemaker | December 18, 2017 | RSS

78 Seniors Get Diplomas during 26th Winter Commencement
Seventy-eight Bluefield College seniors received diplomas, Saturday, December 9, during the school’s 26th Annual Winter Commencement,

Seventy-eight Bluefield College seniors received diplomas, Saturday, December 9, during the school’s 26th Annual Winter Commencement, which featured two speeches from distinguished graduates and a keynote address from entrepreneur Dr. Bobby Griffin.

Bluefield College President David Olive welcomed the capacity crowd of family and friends to Harman Chapel for the celebratory event. Dr. Olive spoke about the school’s purpose as a Christ-centered learning community to integrate faith and learning. He also challenged the graduates to be active in living out their faith and to be the “light of Christ in the world.”

Keynote speaker Dr. Bobby Griffin.
Keynote speaker Dr. Bobby Griffin.

“Our hope is that you’ve been prepared for more than just success in your career,” said Dr. Olive, “but that you have been prepared for an enjoyable and meaningful life – one grounded in faith, adaptable to a changing global environment, and given to caring for and serving others.”

Julie Johnson, a former chair of the BC Board of Trustees, offered similar greetings on behalf of the Board. She urged the students to live out their faith boldly, to be people following God’s purpose, and to remember to give back to those who supported them in their academic endeavors.

“If you look in front of you on the stage, you will see the people (faculty and staff) who invested a great deal in you and your success,” said Johnson. “Behind you are those (family members) who supported you in your efforts to achieve your goals. And beside you are your classmates who shared in your experiences. Every one of us has been placed in your life by the grace of God for His plan and purpose. You need to stand on their shoulders.”

Distinguished traditional graduate Rebekah Ivester.
Distinguished traditional graduate Rebekah Ivester.

Dr. Griffin, whose remarks were less like a commencement address and more like a testimony, shared how he came from an obscure early life and overcame insurmountable odds to achieve renowned personal and professional success. Giving his life to God, he said, is how he turned his life around.

“Being joyful is what makes you grateful. Being grateful is what makes you joyful,” he told the graduates. “God has a plan for every one of you, a purpose for everyone’s life. And the only way you can have true success is to give your life to Jesus Christ. Let him lead the rest of your life.”

A high school dropout from Bristol, Virginia, Dr. Griffin served the United States Army in the Korean War before returning home to launch and grow several businesses into multi-million-dollar ventures.

“God has blessed me beyond all expectations,” said Dr. Griffin, who was named Personality of the South in 1979 and a member of Who’s Who in Leading American Executives in 1990. “Never did I realize I would do all of this. When God is in control, nothing is impossible. I’ve overcome a lot of challenges and lived an exciting life, and God is the one that has made it all possible.”

Distinguished online graduate Chris Robinson.
Distinguished online graduate Chris Robinson.

Two distinguished Bluefield College seniors also spoke as part of the Commencement program: Rebekah Ivester, a traditional church music major from Woodbridge, Virginia, and Christopher Robinson, an online management and leadership major from Christiansburg, Virginia. Ivester, who was a member of BC’s Student Government Association, Baptist Collegiate Ministries, Student Ambassadors and multiple student music ensembles, spoke about the lasting friendships developed and the countless lessons learned at Bluefield College.

“We owe a lot to our alma mater,” she told her classmates, “and I hope we continue to walk in the path set for us by the wonderful people of Bluefield College. Remember the lessons you’ve learned here: to love other people, to serve others, and to live lives that reflect our precious savior Jesus Christ. I want to challenge all of us as graduates of an institution that emphasizes servant leadership to love people radically, serve people selflessly, and be the change we want to see in the world.”

Robinson, who balanced family, a career and college to complete his bachelor’s degree, used scripture from II Timothy to urge his fellow graduates not to live life in fear.

“My challenge to you is to go out and live your life courageously,” Robinson told his classmates. “Courageously show others kindness and love. Courageously bear your heart and soul to others. Every single one of you will make a difference in this world, but it’s up to you to decide how dramatic that impact will be. Live every day courageously.”

The 26th Annual Winter Commencement also included scripture reading by Dr. Sharon Perot, associate professor of business; the singing of hymns and the BC alma mater, led by Dr. Charles Priest, associate professor of music; and the graduates’ induction into the BC Alumni Association, led by Alumni Council vice president Zachary Smith. Candidates for graduation were presented by Dr. Marshall Flowers, vice president for academic affairs, and Rebecca McCoy-Reese, president of the faculty, and Dr. Olive completed the conferring of degrees. Winter 2017 candidates for graduation included:

Charity Beth Addington, Weber City, Virginia
Amber Loraine Agnor, Roanoke, Virginia
Mahala Odessa Bowman, Ararat, Virginia
Krystle Marie Brooks, Painter, Virginia
Nicki Renee Burgess, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Alisin Agatha Burrell, Petersburg, Virginia
Crystal Denise Alonso, Crab Orchard, West Virginia
John Alexander Canning, Galax, Virginia
Charlie M. Carr, Roanoke, Virginia
Kimberly Dawn Coe, Bluefield, Virginia
Erica L. Cook, Kernersville, North Carolina
Denise Daggers, Chesapeake, Virginia
Aaron J. Dancey, Glade Spring, Virginia
Roswell Del Rosario, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Maria De Jesus Dreikorn, Denver, North Carolina
Taoufik Farhan, Fairfax, Virginia
Natalie Hamm Ferrence, Wytheville, Virginia
Andrea Kathleen Forni, San Ramon, California
Joseph Richard Gatewood, Jr., Poughkeepsie, New York
Breanna Victoria Goins, Troutdale, Virginia
John M. Gulatsi Jr., Charleston, South Carolina
Siddeeqah S. Gumbs, Harlem, New York
Jason Harbeck, Phoenix, Arizona
Ashley Neel Hodge, Wytheville, Virginia
Melanie S. Hodges, Roanoke, Virginia
Mary-Kathryn Ingram, Collinsville, Virginia
Rebekah Elizabeth Ivester, Woodbridge, Virginia
Brenda Taylor Jenkins, Boyce, Virginia
Tommy Jerome Jimmerson, Chester, Virginia
Tammy Brubaker Johnson, Rocky Mount, Virginia
Nicolas Wayne Jones, Roanoke, Virginia
Jacob Raymond Key, Midlothian, Virginia
Brett M. Lane, Stafford, Virginia
Jillian Faith Lineberry, Woodlawn, Virginia
Mary R. Martin, Madison Heights, Virginia
Christopher Brad Mathias, Blackstone, Virginia
Danique L. McGuire, Henrico, Virginia
Colette McMullan, Chilhowie, Virginia
Katherine A. Morris, Damascus, Virginia
Stacie Mullins, Big Stone Gap, Virginia
Victoria Lynn Mullins, Stuart, Virginia
Angela Lee Nester, Fancy Gap, Virginia
Shannon Holder Newman, Bassett, Virginia
Jonathan D. Nicastro, Woodbridge, Virginia
Florence V. Nicholson, Madison, Virginia
Heather Oakes, Big Stone Gap, Virginia
Matthew J. Owen, Halifax, Virginia
Holly Ayne Phillips, Hillsville, Virginia
Robin Pulliam, Marion, Virginia
Sadae Richardson, Dinwiddie, Virginia
Jenna Brooke Ring, Hillsville, Virginia
Karen Renee Robinette, Big Stone Gap, Virginia
Christopher Rhea Robinson, Christiansburg, Virginia
Ashlee Paige Snapp, Kingsport, Tennesse
Courtney Jasmine Starke, Alberta, Virginia
Kyle A. Stearnes, Victoria, Virginia
Joseph Allen Stevers, Pembroke, Virginia
Amber Nicole Stovall, Troutdale, Virginia
Adrienne LaShae Ray, Peterstown, West Virginia
Kendell Victoria Stuart, Bland, Virginia
Casey A. Suthers, Radford, Virginia
Ginger Angelic Tanks, Roanoke, Virginia
Michelle L. Tardie, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Jessica Nicole Tate, Martinsville, Virginia
Victoria Kaye Testerman, Galax, Virginia
Taryn Jacy Thomas, Abingdon, Virginia
Ruby Jean Thompson, Portsmouth, Virginia
Semaj A. Tisdale, Kingstree, South Carolina
Anthony Vincent Tufaro, Scotch Plains New Jersey
Sheryl R. Valentine, Dinwiddie, Virginia
Kayla Lynn Viars, Max Meadows, Virginia
Theresa Brittany Walters, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Nina Yvette Williams, West Point, Virginia
Sophia Marie Wilson, Galax, Virginia
Yolanda Winn, Dinwiddie, Virginia
Virginia Brooke Wolford, Tazewell, Virginia
Addison Wood, Tazewell, Virginia
Hope Disibbio Woolwine, Dublin, Virginia.

Media Contact

Chris Shoemaker, Assistant Professor of Communication