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Bluefield University Holds 97th Spring Commencement

by | May 8, 2019

One hundred twenty-two Bluefield University seniors accepted diplomas, Saturday, May 4, 2019, during Bluefield University’s Spring Commencement.

One hundred twenty-two Bluefield University seniors accepted diplomas, Saturday, May 4, 2019, during Bluefield University’s Spring Commencement. The event was held outside on the campus quad with the majestic East River Mountain as a backdrop. Bluefield University President, Dr. David W. Olive, welcomed family and friends to the celebratory event which featured two speeches from distinguished graduates and a keynote address from Kelly Chadwick Streiff.

Mr. Craig Stout brought greetings to the graduates on behalf of the Board of Trustees and provided a list of three things that he wanted graduates to know. Stout said:

“Know that the faculty and staff have supported you during your time here. They have prayed for you, encouraged you, and now celebrate with you. These fine people standing behind me and serving around you today want nothing but the best for you. Know that this is not the end of your education. Be a lifelong learner. Know that our Lord and Savior loves each and every one of you with an everlasting love.”

Allyson Danielle Carter and Daniel Eric Mason, both from the School of Education and Social Sciences, brought the student addresses for the event. Allyson Danielle Carter provided scripture from 1 Corinthians 10:31 and said, “May our every decision lead us closer to our savior and his heart…So, class of 2019, let us grab his hand right now and step boldly into the door God is opening for us. Whatever that looks like for you, I know he is cheering you on. All of us here are cheering you on.”

Daniel Eric Mason reminded students to praise God when they are on the mountaintop and when they are in the valleys in their life. Mason said, “My prayer for the Bluefield University class of 2019 is that when you are faced with trials, that you would reflect on this moment, this mountaintop, that you are now on, and that you would ‘Praise Him-he is your God, and you have seen with your own eyes the great and astounding things that he has done for you (Deuteronomy 10:21)’”

Keynote speaker, Kelly Chadwick Streiff, a native of Bluefield, West Virginia spoke to the graduates offering career advice. She began her speech by confessing that she did not have a job when she graduated from University. “This degree will afford you many opportunities and privileges, but it does not guarantee them,” Streiff said. She went on to say that “You have to decide to finish well in every opportunity you encounter.” Streiff asked students to consider what they will do with the investment they made in their education. She employed them to contemplate, “Who will you become and where will you go from here?” She also cautioned graduates on job placement saying, “What gets you the job has to keep you the job. Don’t just try to land the job; find the fit.” Streiff also told the audience about a rafting trip that she took where someone fell out of the raft. “Don’t worry so much about falling, just make sure you get back in the boat when you do,” said Streiff.

Streiff has traveled to 37 different countries and called eight states home. She now lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, Peter, and they are expecting their first child in June. Streiff graduated from King University and has dedicated her career to non-profit ministry work where she has served in a variety of local churches and organizations over the last twenty years. She currently serves as the training coordinator for Oasis for Orphans, a non-profit organization providing orphan care to children in southwest Kenya.

The 97th Spring Commencement also included a scripture reading by Dr. Abigail Heiniger, associate professor of English; a selection from Bluefield University Variation Chamber Singers entitled, “Homeward Bound” led by Dr. John-Scott Moir, assistant professor of music with contralto soloist, Ms. Nicole Benedito; as well as a hymn and the singing of the BU alma mater, led by Dr. Charles Priest, associate professor of music. In addition, Mr. Zachary Smith, vice president of the alumni association board, led the graduates in reciting the alumni creed and welcomed them to the Bluefield University Alumni Association. Smith said, “As you maneuver your way through the many ups and downs of life, there will be choices, challenges, joys, and sorrows. But no matter where the road ahead leads, one constant will remain; you will always be a part of the Bluefield University family.”

Candidates for graduation were presented by Dr. Marshall Flowers, vice president for academic affairs and Rebecca McCoy-Reese, assistant professor of theatre, and Dr. David W. Olive completed the conferring of degrees. Candidates for graduation for Spring 2019 included:


Jara Ann Armstrong of Princeton, West Virginia

Anna Rakes Bowles of Fieldale, Virginia

Laura Renae Whiteed Grubb of Max Meadows, Virginia

Daniel Eric Mason of Bluefield, Virginia

John B. Rhudy of Burke’s Garden,Virginia

Alexis Nicole Thompson of Bluefield, Virginia

Kimberly Denise Wells of Elliston, Virginia


Sarah Baker Bailey of Bluefield, Virginia

Charlie M. Carr of Roanoke, Virginia

Nina Y. Williams of West Point, Virginia


Sandra L. Clay of Beckley, West Virginia

Leslie Nii Adjamah Lartey of Culpeper, Virginia

Victoria Lynn Mullins of Stuart, Virginia

Ashlee Paige Snapp of Kingsport, Tennessee

Tiffanie Reneé Snyder of Mount Hope, West Virginia


Madeline Dawn Atkins of Pembroke, Virginia

Rhyan Alexandra Bailey of Rock, West Virginia

Allyson Daniele Carter of Cool Ridge, West Virginia

Sven Kleinhans of Ottenhofen, Germany


Jeanna Ann Anderson of Tullahoma, Tennessee

Benjamin J. Ayers of Bluefield, Virginia

Andre J. Cardamone of Wasco, California

Sharon Lynn Cobbler of Bassett, Virginia

Danaé Meshaun Cox of Richmond, Virginia

Marcus J. Espinal Alvarez of Danbury, Connecticut

Kalin Hope Folden of Princeton, West Virginia

Lillian Katherine Gray of Roanoke, Virginia

Hannah Mayre Ingo of Max Meadows, Virginia

Charity O. Reynolds of Ridgeway, Virginia

Jeda Schmitt of Minneola, Florida

Jacob Alexander Webster of Ringgold, Virginia

Heather Wrench of Dunn, North Carolina


Mary Blake Avery of Newport News, Virginia

Jan Elizabeth Barney of Orange, Virginia

Abigail M. Beavers of Bluefield, Virginia

Kierra Trenise Bell-Linnear of Richmond, Virginia

Nicole Marchetti Benedito of Sao Paulo, Brazil

Charles Theo Black of Orlando, Florida

Michelle Bolton Blessard of Fincastle, Virginia

Adam Wayne Blevins of Galax, Virginia

Brandon Ryshad Bond of Newport News, Virginia

Chrystal Marie Boothe of Draper, Virginia

Eugene Joseph Bowden, Jr. of Roanoke, Virginia

Amber Nicole Boyd of North Tazewell, Virginia

Benjamin Mark Brown of Richlands, Virginia

Chiara Cree Brumfield of Chatham, Virginia

Jacob E. Brown of Honaker, Virginia

Katherine Leigh Calfee of Tazewell, Virginia

Adam Bryant Castro of Troutman, North Carolina

Cowanda Cobbs of Danville, Virginia

Kowante Juwan Cobbs of Danville, Virginia

Sharon Lynn Cobbler of Bassett, Virginia

Jorge Luis Concepcion, III of Chesapeake, Virginia

Robert Evan Connor of Roanoke, Virginia

Camaro Lynn Cook of Manassas, Virginia

Joshua M. Corell of North Tazewell, Virginia

Keyonna Y. Crouch of Kenner, Louisiana

Erin Marie Cunningham of Fredericksburg, Virginia

Marie Michelle Cunningham of Fredericksburg, Virginia

Carah Janelle Dalton of Bluefield, Virginia

Rebekah Dea of Cheyenne, Wyoming

Kristen Danielle Deal of Grundy, Virginia

Kelly Reneé Dietz of Bluefield, Virginia

Christopher Daniel Dixon of Newport News, Virginia

Lena Ralene Duke of Charles City, Virginia

Katelyn Lee Dunford of Montcalm, West Virginia

Olatunji Ebifemi of Ajegunle Lagos, Nigeria

Johnathan Ferguson of Wytheville, Virginia

Duarte Cruz Ferreira of Lisbon, Portugal

Bradley Evan Ferrell of Richlands, Virginia

Ryan James Franceschina of Frederick, Maryland

Candace Lee Francis of La Crosse, Virginia

Chaz Michael Franqui of Old Bridge, New Jersey

Tina Marie Freeman of Pulaski County, Virginia

Vinettea Renee Newbey Freeman of Lynchburg, Virginia

Nicholas Stephen Goad of Stuart, Virginia

Donal Gooch, Jr. of Wendell, North Carolina

Alyssa Nichol Gore of Princeton, West Virginia

Brooke Elizabeth Hall of Bluefield, Virginia

Kyle L. Harris of New York, New York

MarQuell Jovonte Hart of Suffolk, Virginia

Stephanie Marie Vest Hubbard of Roanoke, Virginia

Debra Johnson Hutchinson of Grundy, Virginia

April LeAnn Hylton of Bland, Virginia

Asma Fariha Ismael of Marion, Virginia

Devon L. Jackson of Newport News, Virginia

Dylan Jones of Rich Valley, Virginia

Lynne Tolbert Jones of Pulaski, Virginia

Ethan Ellery Keith Keene of Richlands, Virginia

Courtney Lauren Kendrick of Charleston, West Virginia

Crystal Lawton LaBrie of Roanoke, Virginia

Victoria L. Martin of Covington, Virginia

Marvin Gerard Lemons of Atlanta, Georgia

Nikki Lineberry of Galax, Virginia

Evelyn E. Love of Los Angeles, California

Sherry A. Lozano of Willis, Virginia

Ronald L. Marsh of Roanoke, Virginia

Anisha Kenzie Marshall of Hillsville, Virginia

Alex T. Martin of Dobson, North Carolina

Igenter W. L. McCoy, III of Chesapeake, Virginia

Camry Elizabeth McCroskey of Narrows, Virginia

Jessica Cox-Meadows of Bland, Virginia

Tanya Robson Melanson of Culpeper, Virginia

Gema Karina Mendoza Cervallos of Manta, Ecuador

Demetrius Michael Miller of Marion, Virginia

Quincy De’Shawn Mock of Hampton, Virginia

Brandon David Moser of Dublin, Virginia

Randall Cade Mullins of Richlands, Virginia

Shasta Renee Myers of Big Stone Gap, Virginia

Michael August Niedermeier of Chesapeake, Virginia

Anna Nicole Oliver of Ashland, Virginia

Jonathan Duane Owens of Wythe County, Virginia

Steven Wayne Pack of Ballard, West Virginia

Sarah Elizabeth Pauley of Bluefield, Virginia

Gabriel Flynn Poling of Chillicothe, Missouri

Kenton Presley of Oakwood, Virginia

Crystal Rasnake of Abingdon, Virginia

Travis Reynolds of Bassett, Virginia

Mykenzie Kayln Roach of Bluefield, Virginia

Cameron M. Roberts of Panther, West Virginia

Karissa Joy Rose of Grundy, Virginia

Joanna L. Ryan of Catawba, Virginia

Joshua Lee Salmon of Roanoke, Virginia

Paloma Sanchez Vives of Valencia, Spain

Glenn Donald Scott of Roanoke, Virginia Business Administration

Daniel Shelton of Fairfield, North Carolina

Rodrell Shaquille Smith of Arrington, Virginia

Joe Alexander Stacey of Sheffield, England

Kevin Stoffle of Vienna, Austria

Roby S. Stoots, Jr. of Woodlawn, Virginia

Aaron J. Swingle of Bluefield, West Virginia

David James Tripp, III of Norwich, Connecticut

Dina B. Turner of Yadkinville, North Carolina

Brian I. Vasquez of Westchester, New York

Alec Matthew Vetro of Virginia Beach, Virginia

Samantha Casey Waelti of Christiansburg, Virginia

Katie M’Lyn Wass of Chesterfield, Virginia

Kortney L. Wells of Riverton, Utah

Keondra Cassie Lynise Melody Whitaker of Richmond, Virginia

Francisco Williams of Queens, New York

Luzette Demoorea Williams of Tazewell, Virginia

LaVera Bellins Wilson of Richmond, Virginia

Traci Elizabeth Worrell of Barren Springs, Virginia

Zachary Wright of Abingdon, Virginia


Chase P. Asbury of Bristol, Virginia

Samantha Rhea Bishop of Pulaski, Virginia

Brandi Viers Burnham of Pound, Virginia

Amanda Leigh Casillas of Woodbridge, Virginia

Debra Lynn Creditt of Stafford, Virginia

Jessica Breann Dowdy of Dublin, Virginia

Nicole Grubb of Fries, Virginia

Rachel McKenna Hackney of Tazewell, Virginia

Melissa Rae Hoyas of Bristol, Virginia

Natasha Fay Mullins of Haysi, Virginia

Daniel Dalton Parker of Keokee, Virginia

Danielle Raven Pender of Bristol, Virginia

Shaunita Michelle Rhone of Stephens City, Virginia

Josie Kay Wilson of Meadowview, Virginia


Jovita Noelle Dabney of Richmond, Virginia

Caitlyn Marie Guthrie of Virginia Beach, Virginia

Katelyn Marie Messersmith of Abingdon, Virginia

Alexandria Sturgell of Bluefield, Virginia

Bluefield University

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