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Campbellsville University graduates 680 students, largest in history of the institution

Campbellsville University graduates 680 students, largest in history of the institution 2
Kinley and Jentzen give their aunt, Marissa Lew, a hug following the 2 p.m. commencement ceremony at Ransdell Chapel.

By Alexandria Swanger, communications assistant, Office of University Communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. — Dr. Michael V. Carter, president of Campbellsville University, told 680 undergraduate and graduate students in two commencement ceremonies Friday, Dec. 7, the largest in the history of the university, to thank those who helped them along their journey and that today will be a day they will remember.

A total of 1,653 students received their diplomas for the 2017-18 academic year. Diplomas are given upon completion of all academic requirements.

Carter welcomed those attending and told them Dec. 7 was a “very historic day” when soldiers sacrificed tremendously on Pearl Harbor Day Dec. 7, 1941 as Japan attacked the United States leading the U.S. into World War II.

Campbellsville University graduates 680 students, largest in history of the institution

Kayla Miracle receives the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at CU’s December 2018 commencement ceremony. From left are Dr. Michael V. Carter, Kayla Miracle, Dr. Donna Hedgepeth and Henry Lee.In the 2 p.m. ceremony, graduate Kayla-Colleen Kiyoko Miracle received the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.

“Her record at Campbellsville University is one of servant leadership and exemplary engagement in campus life,” Carter said.

Miracle graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in mathematics and an Athletic Coaching minor with a 3.71 grade point average. She was a member and team captain of the Lady Tiger Wrestling team for four years, where she received Mid-South Conference Wrestler of the year 2017-2018 and MSC Student-Athlete of the Year in 2016-2017.

Miracle had a 127-1 College Record, Four-time WCWA National Champion (College), Two time U23 World Team member (5th place), Two-time Jr World Bronze Medalist, Cadet Silver World Medalist, 2016 Olympic Trials 4th Place and two-time Senior National Team Member.

“She has a servant’s heart both on and off the wrestling mat,” Carter said.

Miracle has served as a Kentucky Women’s Wrestling Assistant Coach/Mentor, USA Wrestling Ambassador, Youth Wrestling Camp Clinician and Indiana Ignites Volunteer Coach, as well as Taylor County Youth, Middle School and High School Volunteer Coach. She also served as Resident Assistant, tutor, and FIRST CLASS Mentor at CU.

Miracle is the daughter of Lee Miracle and Jeannette Ishibashi. She has an older brother, Shawn, and two younger siblings, Hope and Cale.

This was the 11th consecutive year Campbellsville has had the privilege of awarding an outstanding student with this honor.

Campbellsville University was selected in 2002 to participate in the prestigious awards program that honors the memory and legacy of the late Algernon Sydney Sullivan.  There are 70 colleges and universities in the South approved by the Sullivan Foundation to annually present these awards to one graduating senior and to one adult from the community.

Sullivan was a lawyer, devout Christian, mediator, powerful and appealing orator, a courageous citizen during perilous times, a noted philanthropist and a devoted family man. In 1890, three years after his death, a memorial committee was formed – former Campbellsville University President Grover Cleveland was among the group’s members. The members charged themselves with keeping alive the attributes demonstrated by Sullivan. The original group passed on the task to the New York Southern Society, which later passed on the torch of remembering Sullivan’s ideals to the Sullivan Foundation formed in 1934. 

Campbellsville University graduates 680 students, largest in history of the institution 3
Joshua Williams takes part in the graduate walk before the 4 p.m. commencement ceremony. Williams graduated with his Professional Masters in Business Administration

“Campbellsville University works to transform the lives of our students and to help them become Christian servant leaders. There are numerous examples of men and women on our campus who are serving this community and world. The choice of a student recipient for the Algernon Sydney Sullivan student award is a difficult choice – and this year’s winner is another outstanding choice for the Sullivan award,” Carter said.

In his charge to the graduates, in the ceremonies in Ransdell Chapel, Carter urged the students to be servant leaders and to live forth the great attributes the Lord has taught us.

He told the graduates leaders are those who empower those around them to do greater things than they think possible.

He urged them to live the attributes of the university’s seal in fellowship, leadership and scholarship.

Carter also said not only will there be no increases in tuition for the coming year, but that some program charges will also be reduced.

At the 2 p.m. ceremony, Trevor Short of Harrodsburg, Ky., accepted the charge and encouraged graduates to find their purpose going forward into their futures, “Here we are in the present now and waiting for the not yet. We now have purpose. Purpose is the key to life.”

At the 4 p.m. ceremony, Kyle Arnett of Campbellsville, accepted the charge on behalf of his fellow graduates. In addressing his classmates, Arnett said, “Upon completing your degree, you have proven yourself a worthy individual to go out and make a positive impact in your communities through fellowship, leadership and scholarship.”

The valedictorian of the undergraduate class was Hope Scott of Campbellsville, Ky.; she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies and Psychology.

The salutatorian was Rebecca A. LaFever of Louisville, Ky., who received a Bachelor of Science in Pastoral Ministries.

Campbellsville University graduates 680 students, largest in history of the institution 1
Kelaiah Clark talks with friends after the CU’s graduation.

Darryl Peavler, director of alumni relations, a two-time graduate of Campbellsville University, welcomed the graduates into the CU Alumni Association, which has over 14,000 graduates.

He charged them to embrace their role as new alumni and to be proud Campbellsville University alumni, give back to the university and recruit students.

He told them to enjoy the moment and take time to reflect on their journey.

Dr. Donna Hedgepath, provost and vice president for academic affairs, presented the graduates. Henry Lee, chair of the CU Board of Trustees, gave the invocation at both ceremonies.

Dr. Wesley Roberts, professor of music, played the organ and piano, and Dr. Anne McNamara, assistant professor of music, was the trumpeter.

Dr. Tony Cunha, professor of music and dean of the School of Music, led the congregational music.

Dr. Damon Eubank, chair of social science division and professor of history, who serves as chair of the faculty forum, gave the benediction at both ceremonies.

Campbellsville University is a widely-acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 13,000 students offering more than 90 programs of study including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The university has off-campus centers in Kentucky cities Louisville, Harrodsburg, Somerset, Hodgenville and Liberty with Kentucky instructional sites in Elizabethtown, Owensboro and Summersville. The university also has a full complement of online programs. The website for complete information is

Campbellsville University graduates 680 students, largest in history of the institution 4
Matt Billiot and Dylana Fothergill embrace for a hug following Fothergill’s graduation on Dec. 7 at Ransdell Chapel. (CU Photo by Ariel Emberton)