By Joan C. McKinney, director, Office of University Communications
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Dr. Joseph Hopkins, the 12th president of Campbellsville University, presided over his first commencement asking the 1,593 students who were receiving their degrees “Who’s on your journey?” May 6 and 7 in Powell Athletic Center.
Hopkins presented an address telling of the experience of his family fulfilling one of his bucket list items – traveling to the Sahara Desert where he and his wife, Suzanne, and sons, Joseph and Vance, camped and enjoyed “who” was on their 115-degree heated trip.
He told the graduates they are about to launch on a journey of their own.
“Most often, the questions being asked at this stage are where, what, why and most especially, how?,” he said, while he challenged them to add the who to their list of questions.
“How about the family that has stood beside you, giving of themselves for your future? What of those friends who have shared these last few years of your journey? What of those dearest to you – perhaps a most trusted or significant other.”
“Today, while you contemplate the when, where and how, I challenge you to think about the ‘who.’ When you come to the end of these journeys, it will be the who that mattered most.”
The capital Who is the who he wanted students to recognize. He said he and his family invite Christ to travel with them on trips.
“God sent His only Son, Jesus, to demonstrate His love for us and to make it possible for us to have fellowship with Him,” Hopkins said.
“In other words, He wants to share the journey with you,” Hopkins said. He quoted Proverbs 3:5-6 that states: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and He will direct your path.”
Hopkins said, “God is less concerned about my specific career, salary, title, job location, or even my promotion than whether I spent time with Him today. He wants to share in your journey!”
“When we come to the end of the pathway and look back, we will value our steps, not by the places we have been, the money made or the professional accomplishments, but by the lives we touched, the memories we shared and the sweet communion of fellowship with our Creator.”
Three students, Stephanie Michelle Baldwin, Milan Bailey and England Blye, responded to Hopkins’ charge.
Baldwin said about the capital Who: “He has bestowed us with gifts and talents that allow us to be sitting here. We should all be thankful for our ‘who,’ but as we consider Dr. Hopkins’ charge, think of ‘who’ is looking to be their who and the opportunities the Lord will entrust you with, whether in business or academic, to be someone’s ‘who’ and share the love and blessings the Lord can bestow on them, just as He bestowed on us.”
Baldwin received the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Management with Specialization in Leadership. She is from Demossville, Ky.
Bailey, from Louisville, Ky., earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science. She discussed the challenges the class made through pandemic isolations, Zoom instruction and uncertain days week by week.
“Who we are is the class that kept going, that refused to quit,” she said. “As we look into the future, who we will become are scientists, pharmacists, healthcare professionals, government officials, teachers, professors, husbands, wives, mothers and fathers. But above all, who we have is our God, the one who is always with us.”
Blye, who also discussed the loss of family or friends to COVID-19 and those who battled personal and mental issues due to the tribulations that ensued, said, “You have made it. You have set sail on the wings of life. You have held on, despite raging winds and catastrophic seas.”
She told her classmates to “Thrive in the notion that you have made a permanent footprint. You have uttered the words, ‘I can, I am able and I will.’”
Blye received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and is from Louisville.
The second group of Doctor of Philosophy degree in Management with Specialization in Leadership graduates were: Stephanie Michelle Baldwin of Demossville, Ky.; Gwendolyn Durham Blue of Louisville, Ky.; Gabriel Alejandro De Freitas Forero of Louisville, Ky.; Mark David Mann of Mt. Washington, Ky.; Jason Glenn Roop of Campbellsville, Ky.; Micah Spicer of Owensboro, Ky.; and Rose Anne Carter of Campbellsville, Ky. received the Ph.D. in Management with Accounting Specialization.
The students receive their degrees on the recommendation of the faculty and the approval of the Board of Trustees.
Hopkins presented the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Adult Award to Dr. Heather Wise, a 2001 Campbellsville University graduate who opened Wise Dentistry for Kids in Campbellsville in 2007.
Wise is heavily invested in her community, church and family. She has served as a Eucharistic Minister and Religious Education teacher at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, a seven-year school board member at the KY Christian Academy, an eight-year Taylor County Middle and Taylor County High School Site-Based Decision Making Council member, a previous Campbellsville Chamber of Commerce Board Member, as well as an Advisory Board Member with Lake Cumberland Head Start.
She has also served on Kentucky Medicaid’s Dental Technically Advisory Council as well as being a member of the Medicaid Avesis Advisory Council. She also holds a volunteer faculty appointment with the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry.
Wise is married to Kentucky State Senator Max Wise, a 1997 Campbellsville University alumnus and former CU political science professor. They have four children: Grayson, Jackson, Carter and McLean.
The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Student Award winner was Madison Sheppard, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry and a minor in Business Administration. She’s from London, Ky. and was a member of the Lady Tigers Basketball Team.
She is interested in international missions and plans to work in missions following her graduation.
Campbellsville University was selected in 2002 to participate in this prestigious awards program that honors the memory and legacy of the late Algernon Sydney Sullivan. There are only 70 colleges and universities that are approved by the Sullivan Foundation to annually present these awards to one graduating senior and to one community member.
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 the words of a friend, Sullivan “reached out both hands in constant helpfulness to others.”
Dr. Donna Hedgepath, provost and vice president for academic affairs, participated in the bestowing of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards. She also read the names of the graduates, along with assistance from Nagamani Palla, instructor of computer science.
Co-valedictorians of the class, with their degrees listed, were the following: Allison Lurie Hill of Lawrenceburg, Ky., Bachelor of Science in Marriage and Family Ministry; Shelbi Nicole Morris of Cynthiana, Ky., Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts and Science; and Jamie Renee Winstead of Slaughters, Ky., Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy Science.
Co-salutatorians of the class were: Collin Shane Allen of Liberty, Ky., Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration; and Michele Lynann Gipson of Campbellsville, Ky., Bachelor of Science in General Business.
Of the 1,593 graduates, 1,266 received master’s degrees, 303 bachelors, 16 associates and eight doctorates.Hopkins conferred their degrees upon completion of the requirements for their degrees.
Ashley Fox, director of alumni relations, welcomed the graduates, on behalf of the Campbellsville University Alumni Association, to a “very proud, loyal and diverse family.” She said they belong to a network of over 18,000 alumni that spans many states and countries.
“We are so proud of all you’ve accomplished and hope to be a resource today and in the years to come,” she said.
“Your connection to your alma mater is important, and we hope you will continue to build this relationship with us. Take pride in how far you’ve come and have faith in how far you can go.”
Dr. Tony Cunha, dean of the School of Music and professor of music, led in the singing of hymns. The Campbellsville University Brass Ensemble played during the ceremonies. Dr. Renee Sartin, associate professor of social work, gave the invocation in the May 6 ceremony, and Dr. Lisa Singleton, assistant professor of business, gave the invocation in the May 7 ceremonies. Dr. Joseph Early Jr., chair of the Faculty Forum and professor of theology, gave the benediction at all three ceremonies.
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 12,000 students offering over 100 programs of studying including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The website for complete information is www.campbellsville.edu.