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.
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.
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