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"My prayer is that Dec. 14, 2007, be a day you will look back on as a day of achievement and one where you felt a blessed sense of appreciation for all those who have helped make this day possible for you," said Dr. Michael V. Carter, Campbellsville University president, at the first-ever December commencement ceremony in the Ransdell Chapel.
The traditional senior walk morphed into an evening candlelight walk before the 7 p.m. ceremony beginning at the E. Bruce Heilman Student Complex and ending at the chapel.
Degrees were conferred to 82 students, one being given posthumously.
Doris Wefwafwa, a student and assistant volleyball coach from Kenya who died suddenly Monday, Dec. 10, was to receive her bachelor of social work degree. Wefwafwa's degree was given to family representative Ruth Nyongesa along with photographs collected for the family.
Other degrees awarded included: three associate of science; nine bachelor of social work; nine bachelor of science in business administration; 28 bachelor of science; one bachelor of arts; four master of theology; one master of music in music education; one master of music in church music; 14 master of arts in special education; eight master of business administration; and four master of arts in music.
An honorary doctorate of public service was presented to J.B. Crawley of Campbellsville, who is a former chairman of the Campbellsville University Board of Trustees and served as a capital campaign chairman under former president Dr. W.R. Davenport among involvement in numerous other community organizations.
Carter discussed the university's theme "Find Your Calling," and said, "This phrase expresses the very essence of who we are as a community of learners as we are seeking to provide quality Christian higher education to women and men of all ages with a significant emphasis on servant leadership."
"We seek people of all ages not only to find their calling in an academic major and career path, but we are also placed here to help them find their spiritual gifts and reach out and touch others through the love of Jesus Christ," Carter said.
Dr. Skip Alexander, senior pastor of Campbellsville Baptist Church, was the guest speaker.
"It is an honor for me to participate at the first December graduation for Campbellsville University, and ironically very appropriate (as he is Crawley's pastor)," Alexander said.
Alexander urged the graduates to "be the bridge between generational divisions."
He referenced Tom Brokaw's latest book "Boom," that outlines the baby boomer generation, those who were born between 1946 and 1964.
"Among this class of graduates I see several generations represented. There are non-traditional students who are graduating this evening. They were the older men and women who sat up front, actually did their assignments and never missed a class, unless there was a sick child at home."
"'Busters,' are the forgotten step-children of the Boomers. We are children born between 1965 and 1983. We are not boomers and reject much of their priorities. We are the children that experienced stepdads and stepmoms. Our generation has been slow to move up and move out of the house. Some called us the silent generation," Alexander said.
"If the title for the Boomers is 'boom,' then the title for the Busters would be 'bust,' meaning: break, ruin completely; raid, search without warning; or flop, a complete failure. It was, after all, my generation that gave the world Milli Vanilli, New Coke and Michael Jackson."
"Mr. Brokaw's next book may well focus on Busters and it will be called 'Bust.' This will most likely be a pamphlet instead of a book," he said.
"The generation that follows has been labeled the 'bridger' generation because they are coming of age in two different centuries. Your name like your generation is difficult to define," Alexander said.
"We must consider another name for you, the class of 2007. There is no name that captures you. You are more than a name. You reject labels and institutional identification ... Perhaps we should call your generation 'bridge' since you are the connecting and linking generation," he said.
"God can use you to overcome the cynicism of our day where differences are magnified. Your generation can remind us all that we are Americans first and (political) party members second. Be the bridge between the 'well-to-do' and the 'nothing to do with' groups in our world," Alexander said.
"Whatever you call your generation, whatever label is given your group, we are all the same. What is true of every generation is true for your generation and future generations. We are a lost and strayed people who need a Savior. With this Immanuel you can be the bridge."
Alexander has been with Campbellsville Baptist Church since 2002 and has served as an adjunct professor in the CU School of Theology and chairman of the Church Relations Council of Campbellsville University.
Carter gave the charge to the graduates after the degrees were conferred, which included the traditional discussion of the three corners of the university seal: leadership, fellowship and scholarship.
Heather Campbell, a bachelor of science in public relations graduate from Graysville, Pa., gave the response to the charge.
"On behalf of the class of 2007, I would like to thank all of our family and friends for the love, support and encouragement you have provided through our years in college and for celebrating this day with us," Campbell said.
"May we take the charge that President Carter has challenged us with and use it as we embark on the next chapter of our lives. We have been taught, since our first time on this campus, to trust in the Lord and lean on his understandings, and everything will fall into place," she said.
"May we, as the first class to participate in a fall commencement ceremony in the history of the university, apply these principles of fellowship, leadership and scholarship in our lives as we take the degrees we have earned and embrace the 'real world,'" Campbell said.
"I urge you all to live an upstanding life knowing and proclaiming all the while what Christ has done for you."
-Ashley Sidebottom is a staff writer at Campbellsville University.