Bluefield, VA – One hundred forty-five Bluefield University students accepted diplomas during the annual spring commencement and the school’s centennial year, Saturday, May 7, in a program that featured a keynote address from Dr. John V. Upton, Jr., executive director of the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV).
Bluefield University president Dr. David Olive welcomed family and friends, who filled the Dome Gymnasium to be a part of the celebratory event.
“We are honored to have the Rev. Dr. John Upton, who is with us today as our commencement speaker,” said Dr. Olive. “I was grateful he accepted the invitation to speak today because of this historic point in the life of Bluefield University. As executive director for the Baptist General Association of Virginia, he represents today, the partnering entity of Virginia Baptists that had the vision and a passion one hundred years ago to establish this college as a point of access for young men and women throughout Central Appalachia.”
Trustee Dr. Michael Harris shared greetings from the Board.
“I was once sitting in your position 25 years ago today, class of 1997, and you will often look back on this day as one of the best days of your life,” said Dr. Harris. “You all have met many challenges within the last few years and this graduation is a testament to your hard work and perseverance.”
The University faculty selected two student speakers; Laura Kimzey, from the on-campus bachelor’s program, and Nathan Cline, from the online master’s program.
Laura Kimzey is a native of Blacksburg, VA, where she lives with her parents and seven siblings. Kimzey graduated with a major in English literature and minors in history and graphic communication. She spent the 2022 spring semester at Oxford University in England. Kimzey was one of forty students from across the U.S. to participate in a semester of study as part of the Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford program jointly sponsored by Wycliffe Hall and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.
“Looking back at my time at Bluefield, I can think of many people who were there for me: professors who talked with me, counselors who listened to me, advisors who guided me, administration who were interested in me, mentors who grew me, and friends who hugged me, prayed with me, and made me laugh,” said Kimzey. “I think each one of us graduates could similarly think of at least one person at Bluefield who knew us and was there for us: our coach, our roommate, our RA, our teacher, etc.”
Nathan Cline serves as a special education teacher at Tazewell High School in Tazewell, Virginia. Cline began his journey in education by volunteering in the TASK (Taking Action for Special Kids) summer enrichment program when he was in middle school, which led to a desire to teach as a special education teacher. Cline graduated from Bluefield University in December 2018 with his bachelor’s degree and was hired as a special education teacher for Tazewell County Public Schools. Cline graduated with his Master of Arts in Educational Leadership with Licensure.
“Fellow graduates, appreciate your friends, family, and the faculty here that supported you through the many challenges you faced as you worked toward your destination,” shared Cline. “Their goodness is unmatched, and the incredible feeling gained from that appreciation will follow you as you each continue embarking on your journey while growing as individuals. Love one another, be there for one another and cherish one another as you provide goodness for those along their journey.”
Rev. Dr. John Upton, the keynote speaker and executive director of BGAV, encouraged the graduates in his address.
“Keep your mind on what is true, on what is honorable, on what is pure, and lovely, and full of excellence, and worthy of praise,” said Dr. Upton. “Do you see what this might mean to the world if you thought this way? This isn’t positive thinking. This is visionary. This is what we’re hoping the world will become. What’s on your mind will determine what you see and it will shape you and will shape the world around you. And when you fix your gaze on these things, you will become truth in the world. Bluefield University, for 100 years, you have been doing this. And you’re doing it again today.”
The spring class of 2022 included 116 receiving undergraduate degrees and 29 receiving master’s degrees, 56 students graduating with honors, a father and daughter, seven international students, and the first students graduating with a master of arts in counseling degree.
The candidates for the master of arts in counseling included:
Joel Bunn, Martinsville, Va; Pennie Hartley, Lynchburg, Va; Kimberly Pack, Princeton, W,Va.; Jennifer Sarver, Bluefield, Va.; Crystal Taylor, Tazewell, Va.
The candidates for the master of arts in education included:
Nathan Cline, North Tazewell, Va.; Kendall Haynes, Cana, Va.; Alyssa Monfredo, Herndon, Va.; Megan Moore, Tazewell, Va.; Samantha Osborne, Lebanon, Va.; Ashley Sexton, Tazewell, Va.; Timothy Stine, Grundy, Va.
The candidates for master of business administration included:
Erik Anderson, Iaeger, W.Va.; Jeanna Anderson, Tullahoma, Tenn.; Nathan Cobb, Massillon, Ohio; Heather Duncan, Bland, Va.; Sherry Lozano, Willis, Va.; Bennie White, Jr., Henderson, N.C.; Clay Wisner, Bellefontaine, Ohio.
The candidates for master of science in nursing included:
LeRena Barrett, Caretta, W.Va.; VaLeah Bradshaw, Bluefield, Va.; Erin Hale, Honaker, Va.; Alexandra Hurley, Grundy, Va.; Candace Kelly, Pilgrims Knob, Va.; Brianna Odum, Charleston, S.C.; Brittany Rose, Northfork, W.Va.; Whitney Rowe, Grundy, Va.; Elizabeth Shaffer, Berryville, Va.; Jessica Windle, Dublin, Va.
The candidates for the honors program included:
James Burcham, bachelor of science, State Road, N.C.; Laura Kimzey, bachelor of arts, Blacksburg, Va.; Jessica Street, bachelor of science, Bluefield, Va.
The candidates for bachelor of arts included:
Beri Bishop, Fairfax, Va.; Jacob Booth, Daleville, Va.; Jeffrey Brannon, Bluefield, W.Va.; Kassidy Brown, Afton, Tenn.; Axel Johansson, Javrebyn, Sweden; Faith Lamberth, Pembroke, Va.; Staley Lyle, Chatham, Va.; William Mullins, Tazewell, Va.; Phillip Parris, Bristol, Tenn.; Christina Robinson, Stafford, Va.; Alexandra Stout, Bluefield, Va.
The candidates for bachelor of science included:
Mariam Flores, Fredericksburg, Va.; Sarah Alexiou, Leesburg, Va.; Claudia Aquino, Boca Chica, Dominican Republic; Brandie Arnold, Wytheville, Va.; Terrell Boston, Henrico, Va.; Amber Boyd, Richlands, Va.; Chad Brown, Galax, Va.; Samantha Brown, Richlands, Va.; Makayla Castle, Fort Blackmore, Va.; Benjamin Coffman, Fairview, Pa.; Gabrielle Courtney, Richmond, Va.; Hannah Cummings, Sanford, N.C.; Christopher Dandridge, Hampton, Va.; Christine Davenport, Abingdon, Va.; Myesha Dixon, Victoria, Va.; Jason Downs, Albion, N.Y.; Trent Dunn, Raleigh, N.C.; Eric Murillo, La Ceiba, Honduras; James Ellis, Jr., Marion, Va.; Andre Evans, Jr., Maplewood Township, N.J.; Julie Farmer, Christiansburg, Va.; Keirstan Farmer, Richlands, Va.; William Faught, Jr., Gilbert, Ariz.; Lamont Finley II, Hampton, Va.; Jade Flanagan, Bluefield, Va.; Anna Flinchum, Danville, Va.; Kellie Flinchum, Radford, Va.; Leslie Flores, South Charleston, Ohio; Carter Frye, Warrenton, Va.; Ryan Gellner, Dublin, Va.; Deborah Green, Henrico, Va.; Amy Jessup, Fredericksburg, Va.; Jessica Jones, Galax, Va.; Keenma Jones, Danville, Va.; Trey Jones, Charlotte, N.C.; Chanda Jordan-Eppes, Chester, Va.; Ashley Keene, Oakwood, Va.; Aisha Koroma, Centresville, Va.; Dipti Lad, Christiansburg, Va.; Clayton Lewis, San Diego, Calif.; Rob Littlejohn, Columbus, Ohio; Abigail Martin, Pilot Mountain, N.C.; Benjamin Meade, Bluefield, Va.; Kylie Meadows, Beaver, W.Va.; Taylor Meaux, White Oak, Texas; David Meech, Douglas, Mass.; Kayla Mullins, Glade Springs, Va.; Elishia Pena, Sweetwater, Tenn.; Erica Penn, Martinsville, Va.; Devonte’ Pettaway, Greenville, N.C.; Byrchel Poskas III, Roanoke, Va.; Isaac Price, Fredericksburg, Va.; Abigail Ragan, Bristol, Va.; Sandra Ray, Swords Creek, Va.; Hannah Reeves, Mouth of Wilson, Va.; Laurel Romano, Bluefield, Va.; Kristina Sanchez, Converse, Texas; Lovevette Sheppard, Dublin, Va.; Brandon Shields, Fairmont, W.Va.; Hope Shortridge, Grundy, Va.; Bryce Shortt, Oakwood, Va.; Taylor Southerland, Afton, Tenn.; Joshua Stanley, Waxhaw, N.C.; Ayanna Strother, Woodstock, Va.; Ian Sumrall, Hume, Va.; John Thomas, Tazewell, Va.; Tammy Utt, Hillsville, Va.; Jaime Vest, Princeton, W.Va.; Ryan Voss, Buffalo, N.Y.; John Walkup, Narrows, Va.; Angela Weis, Fayetteville, W.Va.; Mason West, Bluefield, Va.; Aubri Whatcott, Clinton, Utah; Corinn White, Culpeper, Va.; Stephanie Whited, Lebanon, Va.; Avery Wolfe, Roanoke, Va.; Garrett Wright, Bluefield, Va.; Morgan Wylie, Gap Mills, W.Va.; Ethan Young, Roanoke, Va; Katharina Zausek, Gmunden, Austria.
The candidates for bachelor of science in nursing included:
Kirsten Barney, Buena Vista, Va.; Taylor Blankenship, Richlands, Va.; Justin Browning, Clintwood, Va.; Vanessa Manriquez, Martinsville, Va.; Christopher Winningham, Martinsville, Va.; Valerie Wriston, Narrows, Va.
The candidate for associate of ministry leadership included:
Emma-Grace Brown, Bristol, Va.
The candidates for associate of science included:
Christopher Benitez, Fredericksburg, Va.; Hannah DeWick, Rockport, Maine; Dylan Howell, Chesapeake, Va.; Alexia Kepple, Fort Branch, Ind.; Bethany Kirkendall, Brandywine, Md.; Rebecca Lilly, Waynesboro, Va.; Ethan Mozeleski, Fredericksburg, Va.; Klara Lundgren, Olofstrom, Sweden; Grace Paul, Monticello, Fla.; Sylvia Ragland, Culpepper, Va.; Hannah Ramey, Bolivia, N.C.; Nathan Ramey, Bolivia, N.C.; Anna Thomasson, Raleigh, N.C.; Cornelis Johannes Junior van der Waal, Marion, Va.; Nicole Weber, Suffolk, Va.
The 2022 Spring Commencement also included special music by Bluefield University’s Variations Chamber Singers and Trombone Quartet and alumna Alandra Blume; scripture reading by Dr. Cynthia Bascom, professor of communication; the singing of hymns alma mater, led by David Pedde, director for the Center for Worship Arts; formal induction for the class of 2022 into the BU Alumni Association, led by Morgan Lloyd, alumni vice president; and the conferring of degrees, led by Dr. Olive, Dr. Marshall Flowers, provost, and Rebecca McCoy-Reese, assistant professor of theatre.
View the Spring 2022 Commencement recorded live stream here
View the Spring 2022 Commencement digital program here