Bluefield University in the News


by | May 13, 2016

One hundred fifty-one Bluefield College seniors accepted diplomas, Saturday, May 7, during the school’s 94th Annual Spring Commencement, which featured two speeches from distinguished graduates and a keynote address from The Honorable Morgan Griffith, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, who also received an Honorary Doctorate degree during the program.

Outside on the campus quad against the backdrop of the majestic East River Mountain, Bluefield College president Dr. David Olive welcomed family and friends to the celebratory event. Trustee Dr. Thomas Brewster offered greetings from the BC Board, and distinguished graduates Tanja Allen, an online nursing student from Fredericksburg, Virginia, and Hannah Mayo, a traditional teacher education student from Falls Mills, Virginia, shared sentiments about their journeys at BC.


“Our degree is not just a degree,” said Allen, who spoke of the challenges of balancing work, family and school, but of the “amazing support” offered by the faculty. “We committed a few years of our life and the lives of our families. We sacrificed much, but we could not have accomplished this without the support of the faculty, our family and friends.”


Mayo also thanked family, friends, faculty and staff and shared how she had grown during her time as a student. “College is a time of growth,” she said. “The past four years have taught me how to stand up for what I believe and to do everything for the glory of God.”


The Commencement program also included the presentation of an Honorary Doctorate degree to Congressman Griffith in recognition of his “outstanding professional and personal accomplishments,” as a reward for his “exceptional service and leadership,” and for his support of the mission and goals of Bluefield College.


Griffith was first elected to represent the Ninth Congressional District of Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2010. Now in his third term of office, he is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over some of the most important issues facing Virginia’s Ninth District, including public health and federal regulations. Within the Energy and Commerce Committee, he has served on subcommittees for health, energy and power, and oversight and investigations.


“The granting of this Honorary Degree provides an opportunity for Bluefield College to express appreciation to someone who has contributed greatly to his government,” said Kenneth Russell, acting chair of the BC Board of Trustees, “and much to the work of Christ and the betterment of society.”


Prior to his election to the U.S. House of Representatives, Griffith served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1994 to 2011, where he represented the Eighth District. In 2000, he was elected House Majority Leader, the first Republican in Virginia history to hold that position.


“Our hope is that this Honorary Degree expresses appropriately our appreciation to Congressman Griffith for what he has accomplished through his public service,” said Dr. Olive. “Congressman Griffith, because of your professional accomplishments, along with your faithful service to God and humanity, we at Bluefield College confer upon you the degree of Honorary Doctor of Law.”


Congressman Griffith also provided the day’s keynote address, which included three “truths” or principles of life. The first, he shared, is the importance of becoming a servant before becoming a leader.


“One must learn to serve before one can lead,” said Griffith, a native of Salem, Virginia, and an honors graduate of Emory and Henry College. “Service and leadership go together. They are different, but of the same thing.”


He also spoke of the significance of admitting your faults and saying you’re sorry and the value of recognizing your gifts and putting them to good use.


“Identify your gifts, and know that God gave us all gifts and a purpose in life,” said Griffith, who studied law at Washington and Lee University before beginning a private law practice in southwest Virginia. “When you constantly have a passion to do something, it’s probably God telling you there is something you should do. Follow that voice. Follow that passion. Use your gifts.”


The 94th Annual Spring Commencement also included scripture reading by Charles Reese, associate professor of theatre; special music by the select student voice ensemble Variations, under the direction of music professor Dr. Ben Thorburn and accompanied on horn by Laurie Arthur; the singing of hymns and the BC alma mater, led by Dr. Thorburn; and the graduates’ induction into the BC Alumni Association, led by alumna Jennifer Mitchell, president of the Alumni Council.













View more photos from Spring Commencement, including individual diploma presentation pics.

Senior candidates for graduation were presented by Dr. Marshall Flowers, vice president for academic affairs, and Dr. Tracey Stout, president of the faculty, and Dr. Olive completed the conferring of degrees. The spring class of 2016 included:


Alisha Danese Abbey, Bluefield, West Virginia
Jessica Reenee Akers, Bastian, Virginia
Erik Josue Albarran, Houston, Texas
Richard Kevin Aldridge, West Jefferson, North Carolina
Alexis Simone Allen, Beckley, West Virginia
Tanja Allen, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Rachel Elizabeth Alley, Richlands, Virginia
Andrea Renae Armbrester, Stuart, Virginia
Brandon Austin, Blacksburg, Virginia
Ashley Ball, Abingdon, Virginia
Samuel Bennett, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Jean E. Bien-Aime, Miami, Florida
Samantha Joann Bienz, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Jennifer Pearman Bishop, Stokesdale, North Carolina
Carol A. Montano-Blankenship, Richlands, Virginia
Christopher Bonfiglio, Jr., Oxford, Michigan
Morgan Reid Brewster, Bluefield, Virginia
Ronald Glenn Buford, Jr., Bluefield, West Virginia
Jessica Leah Cagle, Galax, Virginia
Michelle Ava-Leigh Cantrell, King George, Virginia
Alicia Rogers-Carrico, Somerset, Virginia
Tori D. Carro, Chesterfield, Virginia
Tammy L. Cash, Cedar Bluff, Virginia
Kimberly Nicole Clinton, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Rachel Cochran, Chantilly, Virginia
Megan Marie Colon, Covington, Virginia
Stephanie L. Compton, Greenfield, Ohio
Kayla Michelle Corell, Bluefield, West Virginia
Samantha Devin Counts, Bristol, Virginia
Elaine Holdaway Cox, Independence, Virginia
Stacy R. Dautrich, Christiansburg, Virginia
Alexis Louise De Los Santos, Bluefield, Virginia
Michael James Dean, Bristol, Virginia
Dena Renee Delp, Galax, Virginia
Michelle Denno, Bedford, Virginia
Victoria Eva Doyle, Roanoke, Virginia
C.J. Drake, Bluefield, West Virginia
Leighia Null Drake, Marion, Virginia
Robert Keith Dreher, II, Greenville, South Carolina
Dakota Lee Duckworth, Daleville, Virginia
David Creed Fulton Fant, Galax, Virginia
Galia P. Feliciano, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Lori Pugh Firebaugh, Salem, Virginia
Portia Cristina Roscoe, Stafford, Virginia
Sandra P. Freeman, Richmond, Virginia
Tina Fuller, Vansant, Virginia
Kali Melinda Furry, Bluefield, West Virginia
Walter N. Gainer, II, Charleston, South Carolina
David Roy Gianesin, Turlock, California
Amber Danae Gilbert, Christiansburg, Virginia
Beverlie Connor Gish, Roanoke, Virginia
Dorothy M. Greer, Sugar Grove, Virginia
Daniel Chapman Griffin, Greensboro, North Carolina
Kyle L. Grisby, Louisville, Kentucky
Kimberly D. Hamlin, Galax, Virginia
Jennifer L. Hartman, Hanover, Virginia
Brandy Michelle Hashbarger, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Nicholas Carey Akers Hinkle, Princeton, West Virginia
Cassandra Nichole Hodge, Pembroke, Virginia
Pamela Louise Hodge, Christiansburg, Virginia
Karen Thomas Hodges, Roanoke, Virginia
Thomas Huddleston, Summertown, Tennesssee
Lindsey Hylton, Bland, Virginia
Tammy S. Jackson, Burkeville, Virginia
Katelyn Nicole Jessie, Honaker, Virginia
Keyesta Nicole Alexis Jones, Bedford, Virginia
Cathryn S. Jones, Richmond, Virginia
Christina Kapalin, Dublin, Virginia
Baraka Kasongo, Roanoke, Virginia
Jordan Kelly Keene, Bland, Virginia
Krista Michelle Kessinger, Princeton, West Virginia
Shelby Lorraine Key, Washington, D.C.
Heather Ashley Kilby, Midland, Virginia
Lochlan Hein Kitchen, Auckland, New Zealand
Lucinda Kathryna Kopp Mitchell, Floyd, Virginia
Lara Beth Korson, Bristow, Virginia
Luther William Lester, Christiansburg, Virginia
Bethany Ann Liddle, Galax, Virginia
Susanna F. Loudermilk, Bassett, Virginia
Amanda D. Lynch, Chester, Virginia
Cory Austin Mabry, Max Meadows, Virginia
Heather Crickenberger Marion, South Hill, Virginia
Kearsten J. Marion, Crosby, Texas
Howard Grant Marshall, Newport News, Virginia
Hannah Gail Mayo, Falls Mills, Virginia
Maryah Cherise Mazyck, Charlotte, North Carolina
Joseph W. McClain, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Alicia Shanell McCoy, Charlotte, North Carolina
Alicia McGuire, Christiansburg, Virginia
Melissa G. Means, Blacksburg, Virginia
Antonella Membreno-Salas, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Amanda Jo Miller, Bedford, Virginia
Diana Lynn Mitzel, Stephenson, Virginia
Stephanie L. Monroe, Chesapeake, Virginia
Karen L. Mulkey, Tazewell, Virginia
Kristin Shupe Neal, Princeton, West Virginia
Jessica Dawn Newman, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Harumi Nishi Sanchez, Cali, Colombia
Andres Palacio, Bogota, Colombia
Robert D’Mori Pinkston, Petersburg, Virginia
Adrian Devon Pope, Hampton, Virginia
Amanda Danielle Randall, Roanoke, Virginia
Matthew Martin Raner, Summerfield, North Carolina
Shane Rankin, Richmond, Virginia
Jodi Ellyn Renner, Williamsburg, Virginia
Laura Beth Repass, Wytheville, Virginia
Holly Danielle Richardson, Marion Virginia
Rebecca Marie Richardson, Portsmouth, Virginia
Benjamin Michael Rife, Grundy, Virginia
Jillian Leigh Riley, Middlesex, Virginia
NIcholas Edward Rivadeneira, Miami, Flordia
Caleb T. Robbins, Roanoke, Virginia
Amanda Roberts, Christiansburg, Virginia
Monique Antoinette Robson, Harrisburg, North Carolina
Melissa Morgan Rodriguez, Richmond, Virginia
Laytoya Denee Rowe, Richlands, Virginia
Selena Rush, Jefferson, Georgia
Ashley Nicole Russell, Richlands, Virginia
Layney Sandifer, Monroe, Virginia
Darius Antoine Scott, II, Atlanta, Georgia
Kyle Jeffery Scott, Roanoke, Virginia
Amanda Turie Sebey, Anchorage, Alaska
Carlee Grace Sellers, Indian Trail, North Carolina
Dawn M. Shepherd, New Castle, Virginia
Lorrie J. Shore, Danville, Virginia
Benjamin Charles Slator, Boroughbridge, England
Rodrell Shaquille Smith, Arrington, Virginia
Madeline Surles, Midlothian, Virginia
Karen Lorrine Sutherland, Vansant, Virginia
Sarah Grace Talbert, Amonate, Virginia
Tyres G. Tatum, II, Mayodan, North Carolina
Benjamin A. Taylor, Bluefield, Virginia
Amber Taylor-Inge, Dale City, Virginia
Tessa McNeil Thurman, Wirtz, Virginia
Brenda K. Trent, Roanoke, Virginia
Michael Giovanni Tufaro, Scotch Plains, New Jersey
Carlton Joe Tugman, Mountain City, Tennessee
Sara Van Es, Bluefield, Virginia
Austin Clark Van Es, West Palm Beach, Flordia
Lavonne Evette Viney Walker, Chesterfield, Virginia
Doris J. Waddell, Fairlawn, Virginia
Mason Adam Wallace, Spotsylvania, Virginia
Charles Gregory Warren, Roanoke, Virginia
Justin Lee Williams, Aylett, Virginia
Hannah Brittany Winter, Amelia, Virginia
Michael T. Wood, III, Tazewell, Virginia
William Workman, Princeton, West Virginia
Brian Keith Wright, Hardy, Virginia
Savannah Snow Wright, Salem, Virginia
Charlotte Wright, Williamsburg, Virginia
Gavan Yates, Tazewell, Virginia.

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