MOC graduates largest summer class ever
By Laura Collins
Published in News on August 29, 2010 1:50 AM
More than 300 Mount Olive College students graduated Saturday during the school's 57th commencement, the largest August commencement in the school's history.
Eugene Sumner, board of trustees academic affairs committee chair, opened the ceremony by welcoming the graduates and their families.
"We are here today to salute you, your family and friends who helped you reach this significant milestone in your life," he said.
Lawrence Rouse, James Sprunt Community College president, was the keynote speaker for the graduation. He said that in the past 20 years he's attended over 55 graduations, and admitted he can't remember anything the keynote speakers said.
"I will not deceive myself or you that anything I say will be remembered but I would like to take a few moments to share a few brief remarks with," he said, to laughs from the crowd.
He started by commending Mount Olive College for being a premier Christian institution and for having a presence in the community. He then turned his attention to the soon-to-be graduates and asked them to reflect back on their first day of school.
"Graduates you have experienced a transformation in your lives as students at Mount Olive College. If you reflect back on the day you arrived on campus and how you felt, how you behaved and even how you appeared, you will admit that you have changed in some very meaningful and significant ways," he said. "Today as you sit before us, your lives have been transformed. You are truly a different person today compared to when you first arrived."
He concluded by encouraging the students to use their education to transform themselves and the world around them and to continue seeking knowledge.
Soon after, the 320 seniors received their diplomas before exiting Kornegay Arena though a line of applauding faculty and staff members to their awaiting families.
For one graduate, Lisa Veale, 45, the diploma brought a sense of accomplishment for her and her family.
"It was great. I don't feel the pressure anymore and I can breathe easy now," she said. "I'm one of eight siblings and one of 26 grandchildren, and I'm the last to get my degree."
Mrs. Veale, who balanced going to school with working and being a wife and mother to two children and two step-children, said she's looking forward to the future.
"I want to see what kind of doors will be open for me now with my degree," she said while holding a cluster of green balloons from her children and husband.
Another mother, Sharon Griffin, 42, also received her diploma Saturday.
"I had to put all my kids through college and I wanted to finally put myself through college," she said.
She added there were a lot of challenges, but she's proud of her accomplishment. Her daughter echoed that sentiment.
"She walked us all through school," said her daughter Kourtney Griffin, a graduate of Shaw University. "And now we're here walking her through school."
"We're going to push her to get her Ph.D., as a family," she said.