2016-010-0066A couple of years ago, I discovered Magnolia trees and their beautiful white blooms. I have long been a lover of flowers, but somehow magnolia blooms had escaped my attention. I don’t know if I actually created the hashtag MagnoliaMonday or if I had just never seen it before, but it was my way of rebellion against the then popular mancrushmonday, womancrushwednesday, throwbackthursday and so on. Don’t get me wrong — themes can be good but sometimes are overused. My kids thought I was being ridiculous and that was a good enough reason to continue the theme. I haven’t counted, but there are dozens of Magnolia trees on campus so I have plenty of good opportunities for photos with these sweet smelling blooms all summer. Have a good week and happy #MagnoliaMonday.

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Jeff Montgomery/photographer



Members of the Dactylology Club after their annual Christmas caroling.

For the spring issue of Harding magazine, I covered several student organizations. It was interesting to learn about what these clubs are doing and their varied interests. Another example of an awesome student organization is the Dactylology Club, which is one of the oldest organizations on campus.

The club traces its origins to a class started in fall 1949 by student Sam Roach, who was hearing impaired. He began leading classes in sign language. In a letter, Roach wrote that the purpose of the group was “to teach and train hearing people to preach the gospel and work among deaf people in any way they desired to serve.” The classes officially became the Dactylology Club in 1956.

Today, students meet weekly on campus for classes and plan occasional trips to visit Sylvan Hills Church of Christ in North Little Rock, Arkansas, to participate in the services and class for the deaf there. In December, they go to the homes of some deaf members of the community and perform Christmas carols in sign language.

The club also allows hearing students to get a taste of what being deaf is like.

“’It’s a Deaf, Deaf World’ is an activity that we do with members of Arkansas Rehabilitation Services and Arkansas Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Little Rock,” says sponsor and director of the McNair Program Linda Thompson. “This activity simulates what it would be like in a deaf world where the predominant language is silent, turning the tables on the hearing. It’s an eye-opening activity.”

Thompson was a Dactylology Club member when she was a student. Her group had traveled to a church in Little Rock, Arkansas, to sign for the deaf members. “My husband, [Dean of the College of Sciences] Travis Thompson, who was my boyfriend at the time, tried to tell the deaf members that we were going to be married, only the sign for ‘marriage’ and the sign for ‘hamburger’ are very much alike, and he told them we were hamburgers! They just laughed, and when we figured out what he had done, we laughed, too.”

To learn more about a few of the other campus organizations in our spring issue, click here.

Jennifer Hannigan, copy editor/writer

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The spring 2016 Harding magazine is now online and coming to a mailbox near you very soon. In addition to the latest news, sports and alumni notes, we have some really great feature stories in this issue.

Toria Parrett, a May 2016 graduate, was a student writer for our office and wrote a story on the University’s department of public safety. The story focuses on how technology has impacted how the department functions now and features services it offers to the University community.

The second feature tells the story of two student groups who visited Tuba City, Arizona, for a spring break mission trip. Jeff Montgomery and I traveled to a Navajo reservation in Tuba City and spent the week with students from the kinesiology club and department of communication sciences and disorders. This is the longest time anyone on staff has ever spent on a story assignment, and I can’t even begin to describe how rewarding it was to see this story up close and experience things firsthand. We made relationships with students and faculty on the trip, and we couldn’t have told as strong of a story had we not been there.

Jennifer Hannigan wrote about seven different University organizations for our third feature and provides a snapshot of their place in student life. “My favorite kind of stories to write are the ones that open me up to a part of the University that is new to me, and this story did that,” she said. “For some of these organizations, I knew what they were but not what they did, and for some of them, I knew nothing at all. Learning about these students and their varied interests just proved to me once again what an incredibly gifted group of students Harding has.”

We’re so excited for you to see all of the work that we’ve put into the new issue. You can see the full online version here: http://www.hardingmagazine-digital.com/hardingmagazine/spring_2016?pg=1#pg1. Let us know what you think!

Hannah Owens, director of digital media

Saturday was graduation day, and a day of graduation it was. With ceremonies at 9 a.m., 12 p.m. and 3 p.m., the day was full of special moments in Benson Auditorium and on campus. I attended all three graduations, and a few moments really stood out to me.


Prayer list
Board of Trustees Chairman Roy Reaves spoke in each graduation ceremony like he always does, and he said something that I’ve heard before but have never registered the impact. Each member of the board of trustees receives a list of all the names of the graduates before the commencement ceremonies, and they spend time in prayer for those students. How cool is it that graduates have their friends, family, professors and also the board of trustees lifting up their names in prayer?!


Best commencement speech ever
Dr. Cheri Yecke spoke at 9 a.m., and after the graduation was over, I heard a graduate tell someone that Dr. Yecke had given the best commencement speech he had ever heard. Other commencement speakers included Chancellor David Burks and Provost Larry Long, who is retiring in August. It was really cool for me to hear Dr. Burks, who was president of Harding for all four of my years here as a student, and Dr. Long, as this was his last commencement as provost.


Unrestrained exuberance
At each ceremony, President Bruce McLarty asks that audience members hold their applause and excitement until the last name is called. This is a time that he, and Dr. Burks before him, called “unrestrained exuberance.” Well, the 9 a.m. commencement was about the loudest and most unrestrained exuberance I’ve ever heard.


At every graduation, I watched the faces of graduates turn and light up when they spotted their family members, and I saw eyes of graduates and guests fill with tears as the hugeness of college graduation really set in.


Since December 2013, the faculty has participated in graduation ceremonies in a unique way. At the end, they all stand, face the graduates, and sing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” to them, and they did so in each ceremony this year. Right after the song ended in one of the ceremonies, I heard a man behind me lean over to someone and say, “That right there was worth the whole trip.”

Hannah Owens, director of digital media



The day is almost here. Students have worked for four years and more toward a college degree, and it all comes together with a bit of pomp and circumstance. There’s a lot that runs through students’ minds on graduation day. Here are a few little thoughts to get you prepared for walking day.

1. Yes, you look like a wizard from Harry Potter but so does everyone else so let’s move on.

When I graduated, both high school and college, I was slightly self-conscious about how weird I looked. Embrace the meaning of it all. You’re done! Yes, you’re wearing a silky tent and a piece of cardboard with a kitten toy hanging off the side, but what an accomplishment. We just celebrate by wearing funny clothes.

2. You won’t fall. If you do, I’ll give you $20.

This is my fifth school year working for Harding, and I’ve sat through a number of commencement ceremonies. Now I sit through four a year — three in the same day. But I can’t remember a time when anyone has fallen while walking up to get his or her diploma. If you fall, I will highlight your name in my program and mail you $20. Now all you have to worry about is making $20.

3. Be ready to smile for 2,000 photos.

Everyone gets a little crazy snapping photos. After graduations, I walk through the crowd outside the Benson crouching and covering my head like I’m in an ambush. It’s a big day, and it’s probably going to be a day you’ll want to remember down the road. So just take deep breaths and smile the day away.

4. Use #HUgrad16 to share photos and thoughts throughout the day.

5. All ceremonies will be live streamed at streaming.harding.edu.

6. Don’t take that hat off until you’re in the comfort of your own home.

Mortarboard hair is real, and it ain’t pretty. I’m looking at you, gentlemen. If you take your hat off, make sure someone helps your hair out a little. If not, you will not want those photos printed.=

7. That moment of “unrestrained exuberance” will hit you like a ton of bricks.

At the beginning of graduation, President McLarty will ask that members of the audience hold their applause and celebration until the end. Once that moment happens, a moment he calls “unrestrained exuberance,” the emotions of endings and leaving and saying goodbye that may not have happened yet very well might hit you all at once in this moment. Everyone is cheering and clapping, and you’ll feel like you just won the gold medal in academic excellence. It’s a big deal.

8. Humor your family. They will probably be more excited than you.

Your mom may cry. Your dad may give you 10 hugs and tell you how proud he is. Your grandparents will shine with pride for your accomplishments. Let them. Let them want to be around you all day. Let them take as many photos of you under the Harding University arch as they want. (But get there quick because people in that long line don’t mess around.) Let them celebrate you however they want to. You deserve to be celebrated.

Hannah Owens, director of digital media


Worry photo.2016-010-4977If I could go back, the one thing I would want to reassure myself in college is a phrase I truly believe: “God’s got this.”

I came to Harding from western Pennsylvania extremely ready for new beginnings in a Christian environment. I found I wasn’t as ready as I thought. Homesickness and a heavy class schedule soon had me bogged down. My first trip home at Christmas finally came, and my house and family never looked better to me.

The trip back for spring semester arrived all too quickly, and before I knew it, I had had enough and wanted to quit. A rare long-distance call to my mom left her reminding me of the reassurance from Matthew 6 where Jesus tells us not to worry but to seek his kingdom and righteousness, and everything we need will be given to us.

Those words eventually sunk in. When I quit worrying about what I could handle and let him handle things, my semester got so much better. That was followed by three wonderful underclassmen years here.

Today, when the burdens get heavy and despair sets in, I know it is because I’m not turning it over to the one who can ease the way. When it comes to my earthly concerns, he’s truly “got this.”

Now if I just had the faith to put this in practice all the time.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer


If you don’t have a plan right now – that’s OK. If you don’t have a job right now – that’s OK. These are some of the words of encouragement I would have liked to hear at my graduation. What I would tell myself about life after graduation is that the path you intend to take may not be the path you find yourself on. And that is OK.

When graduation came, I celebrated the completion of school forever, and I eagerly looked toward my future career. Interestingly enough, I ended up in graduate school for a year. During that time, I became a babysitter and a barista but not exactly the professional woman I imagined myself to be at 22.

Many of my friends found themselves on equally unexpected paths. Whether it was a nine-month job search, an awful first job experience, or a job just to pay the bills, we found that the road from college to career is sometimes a bumpy one, and it looks a little different for all of us. I think that is a good thing because those experiences are good for growth.

I feel like advice to embrace the unknown can be tough to swallow as a graduate, so I’ll avoid saying that. But I think it is important to note that you can’t list out the future experiences that will change your life. The unexpected path on which you find yourself could likely lead to those experiences. So maybe try to steer into the skid a little rather than panicking when things don’t go how you are expecting them to go.

Shelby Dias, director of news services


When I graduated high school, I saw my life mapped out in milestones, the life events that would mark my growth and that plotted my path to adulthood. Life was a lot of “when I finally do this, then I will be an adult.” In many ways “adult” was code for “having it all together.”

When I graduate college, then I will be an adult, I thought. Even though I had gotten married in college, another one of those things I thought would magically make me an adult, I really felt that the biggest marker of adulthood was a diploma. As I stood in line waiting to go into the Ganus Athletic Center, I didn’t feel like an adult, though. I didn’t feel like I had it all together. I didn’t have a job lined up, I wasn’t moving to a new city, and I didn’t know where I was headed. But even with a job, I still felt like I wasn’t quite there yet.

I keep moving through the milestones — house, car, one kid, two kids, turning 30 — and still sit here feeling very unadult, very much like I don’t have it all together. And that is what I would tell post-grad Jennifer: “Having it all together” is a myth. Being an adult isn’t a ruler made up of milestones you measure yourself by and then, one day, you reach the adult line.

Seniors Rachel Brackins and Zach Hailey of The Bison newspaper staff recently posed this same question to the class of 2016: Do you feel like an adult? University professors, deans and even the president spoke about the millennial generation and gave their views on this graduating class.

Associate Professor of Education Steve Warren says in the video that “failure is most certainly a requisite to anything of value.” It is not success that defines you but the trying that defines and matures you. I’m not trying to have it all now but instead trying to give it my all. And that has made quite a difference.

Jennifer Hannigan, copy editor/writer


The spring 2016 Harding magazine is coming to a mailbox near you in just a few short weeks. The “Your Words” section features our readers’ answers to the question “What is the one thing you wish you could go back and tell yourself about life after graduation?” Spring commencement is coming up this Saturday, and Harding magazine staff will be sharing responses to that question throughout the week.

The last chapel of the spring 2015-16 school year was Friday, April 29. A tradition for the last chapel of the school year, graduating seniors came up to the front of the auditorium as fellow students sang “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.” This is always a moving moment for me to witness, but that wasn’t what I will take away from this year’s chapel.

If I could go back and tell myself one thing about life after graduation, I would say, “Hannah, no matter what you think and how you feel, you’re ready to go.” When I was a senior in my last semester, I worried that I hadn’t been paying enough attention in classes to succeed in my career. I dreaded doing life without my dearest friends nearby. I wondered if I had worked enough, studied enough and learned enough to be ready.

So much of post-grad life is unknown. Where will you live? What will you do? Who will you do it with? And the big question in my mind was, “Am I ready?” The answer is yes! Harding gave me teachers, friends, and unforgettable experiences that contributed to the person I am today. I didn’t doubt Harding — I doubted myself. Chancellor Emeritus Clifton Ganus provided students with words of confidence and assurance in Friday’s chapel.

“You have been able to sit at the feet of great teachers who love God and who love you, and that’s the best kind of teacher you can get,” Ganus said. “You’ve been blessed by a multitude of students and friends. You’ve had a good education. You’ve been strengthened and stretched. You’ve had experiences that have helped you grow and develop. You’re ready to go, and we’re ready for you to go because you accomplished that for which you came.”

Hannah Owens, director of digital media

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Editor-in-Chief Maeghen Carter dedicates the 2015-16 Petit Jean to Dr. Allen Henderson.

Editor-in-Chief Maeghen Carter dedicates the 2015-16 Petit Jean to Dr. Allen Henderson.

“Few would say we are the same as we were the day we walked on campus,” Petit Jean Editor-in-Chief Maeghen Carter said as she began her introductory speech for this year’s yearbook. “Through the years, yes, we change, but even in our day-to-day lives and roles, we change.”

Carter explained that despite the different hats we wear and roles we fill, we are ourselves at the core. Seeking to utilize this idea in the 2015-16 yearbook, Carter selected the theme “Multitudes” from an excerpt from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself.”

“Do I contradict myself?

Very well then I contradict myself,

I am large, I contain multitudes.”

From the array of experiences that make up Harding, a person may choose one or several paths. There are many facets to an individual, and this year’s Petit Jean aims to capture as many as possible by showcasing students in various categories such as social clubs, organizations, academics, athletics, people, international, leadership and campus life.

If you have the chance to pick up the book, I highly suggest you do. Inside you will find stories detailing Harding University in Latin America’s Amazon expedition, the first social club merger in University history, a student serving as a volunteer firefighter, a profile of the Charles White Dining Hall head chef, and so much more.

In chapel today, Dr. McLarty described the Petit Jean as crucial to our university history. It captures our year and our thinking today and preserves it for the future. In the light of this year’s theme, this idea really hits home. Fifty years from now we will not be the same as we are today, but the Petit Jean will be there to remind us — to remind us of who we are and who we were and of the multitudes within ourselves.

Shelby Dias, director of news services


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