Tiger Take-Off




Hedgepath tells CU’s graduates, “You are made for more” at 2024 May commencement ceremonies

Dr. Donna Hedgepath, Campbellsville University provost and vice president for academic affairs, reminded CU’s graduates, “God always wants more for us than what we may think we deserve.” Hedgepath delivered the commencement address at all three ceremonies. Photo/Gerard Flanagan

By Gerard Flanagan, lead writer and communications specialist, Office of Marketing and Communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Dr. Donna Hedgepath remembers the day she stepped onto the campus of what was then Campbellsville College – nearly four hours away from her hometown of Hickman, Ky. – to begin her college education.

She admitted she was scared on that summer day in 1988.

No friends. Nothing familiar. An uncertain future.

But, as someone who asked questions, Hedgepath soon found her way around campus and managed to get a schedule and textbooks.

As she addressed graduates at Campbellsville University’s undergraduate commencement ceremonies, Hedgepath reminded them, “An unknown future is scary. But don’t let it paralyze you. Fear is like a thief robbing you of your joy—keeping you from realizing your potential. You are made for more!”

Campbellsville University held three commencement ceremonies in the Powell Athletic Center on Friday, May 3, and Saturday, May 4. Hedgepath, CU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, gave the address at all three ceremonies.

Hedgepath told those in the undergraduate commencement ceremonies, “God is so good! Always remember that graduates.”

She reminded the graduates God does not promise that we won’t have bad times.

But, Hedgepath noted, “He only promises to give us the strength to get through the times in our life that may be painful, infuriating, unjust, confusing, disappointing or hurtful.

“How we respond to the bad times will prove to be our biggest opportunity to testify and display Christ’s love and presence in our lives.”

She reminded the graduates that God blesses work and preparation.

“Do the work, because you are made for more!” Hedgepath stated.

Hedgepath shared a “wish list” she made for the graduates. Among the items on her wish list were “more joy, less sorrow,” “more opportunities not missed,” “more hope than despair,” and “more than you can imagine!”

“You are most certainly made for more,” Hedgepath said. “God always wants more for us, more than what we may think we deserve. No one ‘deserves’ grace. That’s the beauty and wonder of it. So, receive His grace. Allow yourself to be used, failures, flaws and all!”

Hedgepath told the graduates that she is also “graduating” into a new season of life, just as they are. Hedgepath will take over as the 14th president of Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas, this summer.

“That was not something I had expected on my path when I felt like a failure, when I was ashamed of my missteps,” Hedgepath noted, “but who am I to underestimate God’s plan and His power? He brushed me off, breathed new life into me, and continues to amaze me. I pray the same for you.”

From left, Dr. Joseph Hopkins, president of Campbellsville University; Dr. Donna Hedgepath, provost and vice president for academic affairs; and Stan Curry, member of the Campbellsville University Board of Trustees, lead one of the graduate walks at commencement. Photo/Alexandria D. Dalton

During Friday’s graduate commencement ceremony, Hedgepath said, “As those of us who pursue an advanced degree, for various reasons, I see the importance of leadership and perseverance for you.”

Hedgepath focused her address at Friday’s ceremony on failure.

“Failure is the one thing that everyone in this room has in common,” Hedgepath said. “Differentiation occurs when we start discussing how we face failure. This involves professional and personal failures.”

Without failure, Hedgepath noted, “I would not be seeing successes in this season of my life.”

Hedgepath reminded the graduates, “God doesn’t just restore us a ‘little bit’ to wholeness, burdened with shame and exceptions, but He restores us ‘all the way!’ Because in the end, it’s not about our failures, but about His love!”

Hedgepath noted that failures should not define us. Instead, what God has created us to be should define us.

“Once you experience God’s grace and give Him glory for your successes despite your failures, you will experience a joy and peace that passes all understanding.”

She also reminded the graduates, “God always wants more for us than what we may think we deserve.”

Hedgepath is a two-time Campbellsville College/University graduate, receiving her Bachelor of Music in Music Education in 1992 and her Master of Music in Music Education in 1999. Dr. Hedgepath taught choral music and arts and humanities at Marion County High School and Lebanon Middle School in Marion County, Ky., from 1993 to 2001.

At CU, Hedgepath has served as an education professor, associate dean of the School of Education and then the School of Education’s dean. She has earned numerous recognitions for teaching, including the Kentucky Music Educators Association College/University Teacher of the Year award and Campbellsville University’s Non-Tenured Faculty Award. She served on the governor-appointed Education Professional Standards Board.

In his charge to the graduates, CU President Dr. Joseph Hopkins told the Class of 2024 that they have been challenged to become servant leaders during their time at CU.

Hopkins reminded the graduates of the example of Jesus Christ, who “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many,” according to Mark 10:45. Hopkins also reminded the graduates of Jesus washing the feet of His disciples.

“Indeed, this is our model, but I would submit that for the last few years, you have been surrounded by world-class servant-leaders disguised as faculty, staff, and often as fellow students,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins noted the world is full of those seeking places of authority and power. Too often, though, these individuals fail to recognize the “needs, loneliness and pain around them” in their pursuit of position, fame and title.

“Sadly, the impact of these so-called leaders is destined to be harmful,” Hopkins told the graduates.

However, Hopkins said he believes a new generation of servant leaders is emerging from Campbellsville University. He called them “changemakers” who will make the world a better place with “healing, compassion, empowerment, and charity.”

He asked the Class of 2024 three questions as he closed his charge:

  • Will you recognize the extraordinary powers of humility, love, and kindness?
  • Will you seek opportunities to serve those who have been overlooked?
  • And will you continue to give the glory for all of this to the One Who calls us to serve, equips us for the task, and guides us on the journey?
  • Kate Hartlage of Campbellsville poses for a photo before her commencement ceremony. Hartlage received a Master in Management and Leadership. Photo/Alexandria D. Dalton

Three students responded to Hopkins’ charge.

Nickolas Brandon Turner responded to Hopkins’ charge at the Friday ceremony.

Turner told his fellow graduating classmates that servant leadership is a life-long journey.

“It is simply a process, not a place of arrival,” Turner said. Being a ‘servant leader’ is one of the most humbling and greatest tasks that any human being on this planet earth can be tasked with from God.”

Turner received a Master of Theology with a Biblical Studies Core.

Turner echoed Hopkins’ remarks, saying, “Class of 2024, I would first like to remind you that Jesus Christ is our perfect example of what a true ‘servant leader’ is.”

He then reminded his classmates of what the Bible says on servant leadership, reading from 1 Peter 4:10: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

Turner reminded his classmates, “As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called and commanded to serve those who are overlooked, oppressed, helpless, and in need. Class of 2024, do not waste what God has taught you at Campbellsville University these past few years.”

Growing up in the western part of Louisville, Ky., Turner never imagined God would call him to be a husband, minister, high school Bible teacher and basketball coach.

“But when God gets a hold of you, He can do more with you than you can with yourself,” Turner stated. “God wants to use you for His glory and your good.”

Olaoluwa Ogunjimi responded to Hopkins’ charge at the first ceremony on Saturday.

“First and foremost, I want to take a moment to give all glory to God, for this moment belongs to Him, and this day is testimony of His love,” Ogunjimi said.

Ogunjimi, of Duleek, Ireland, who received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, reminded his classmates that servant leadership is rooted in love.

“As we stand here on the cusp of new beginnings, let’s reflect on the profound truth that to be a servant leader is to love,” Ogunjimi said. “It’s not about titles or positions of authority, but about embodying love in everything we do.”

Jesus’ life, Ogunjimi noted, was a “testament to the power of love in action.”

“Think about it: Jesus Christ, the ultimate example of servant leadership, didn’t come to be served, but to serve, for God so loved son the world He gave His only begotten son,” Ogunjimi said.

Ogunjimi told his classmates they have been surrounded by mentors, peers and guides who have shown the true meaning of leadership.

“They’ve taught us that true leadership is about putting the needs of others before our own and about making a positive impact in the lives of those around us,” Ogunjimi said.

Ogunjimi encouraged his classmates to seek out opportunities to serve others with compassion and humility and always give thanks to the One “who calls us to love and serve.”

He called on his classmates to be changemakers as they go out into the world.

“Together, let’s be the change-makers the world needs, spreading love and compassion wherever life takes us,” Ogunjimi said.

“For in loving and serving others, we ultimately find fulfillment and purpose in our own lives.”

Estefania Orihuela Ascarrunz responded to Hopkins’ charge in the second Saturday ceremony.

“We stand here now with goals and aspirations evolved from those we held as freshmen or transfer students,” Ascarrunz said. “Our time here has afforded us the invaluable experience to forge lasting relationships, set new ambitions and welcome change.”

Ascarrunz of La Paz, Mexico, received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management/Economics.

Commencement, Ascarrunz noted, is a point of transition between “past achievements and future possibilities.”

“It marks the culmination of our academic journey and the beginning of our opportunity to fulfill our calling,” she told his classmates. “This means taking what we have learned, both in the classroom and through our own life experiences and using it to make a difference.”

Ascarrunz said the Class of 2024 can be defined by one trait: resilience.

“As we move forward, we will face both successes and setbacks,” Ascarrunz said. “It is important to understand that failures do not define us. Our reactions do. These responses shape our character and influence our future.”

She added, “We trust that God will guide us, ultimately allowing us to fulfill the purpose He has for each of us, leading us to a legacy of compassion and service.”

Rachael Thompson of Lebanon smiles before her commencement ceremony. Thompson received a Master in Management and Leadership degree. Photo/Alexandria D. Dalton

Hedgepath was the recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Community Award.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Student Award was presented to Hayden Dabney of Mannsville, Ky. Dabney received a Bachelor of Arts in Educational Ministries.

At CU, Dabney was a member of the Tiger Marching Band, CU pep band, concert band, percussion ensembles and various other ensembles with the School of Music. Dabney was recently named Mr. Campbellsville and serves as children’s minister at Campbellsville Baptist Church.

Hopkins noted, “This type of commitment to the Lord and others is evidence of Hayden’s desire to serve and care for the world around him and is precisely the character worthy of being awarded the 2024 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.”

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. Only 70 colleges and universities are approved by the Sullivan Foundation to annually present these awards to one graduating senior and one community member.

Dabney was a co-valedictorian for the May commencement. The other co-valedictorians, with their degree listed, are as follows:

Alethia Grace Boswell of Louisville, Ky. (Bachelor of Science in Psychology/Marriage and Family Ministry); Luke Austin Caldwell of Danville, Ky. (Bachelor of Science in General Business Single Option Major); Kameron Hale Gehring of Monticello, Ky. (Bachelor of Science in General Business Single Option Major); Kayla Delaney Hall of Somerset, Ky. (Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education/Primary-5); Estefania Orihuela Ascarrunz of La Paz, Mexico (Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management/Economics);  Lauren Dorice Shute of Brandenburg, Ky. (Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education/Primary-5); Hannah LeAnn Tungate of Lebanon, Ky. (Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Human Resource Management); Patrick Logan Williams of Columbia, Ky. (Bachelor of Science in Biology/Psychology); and Austin Tyler Woosley of Elizabethtown, Ky. (Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science Area).

Co-salutatorians were Ryan Clark Lachniet of Gum Spring, Va. (Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship) and Alexis Hungate Voris of Mackville, Ky. (Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education/Primary-5).

Ashley Fox, director of alumni relations, welcomed the graduates to the Campbellsville University Alumni Association, which she called a “very proud, loyal and diverse family.”

“Your time here has equipped you with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in your chosen fields, but perhaps more importantly, it has instilled in you a sense of purpose, character, and service that will guide you throughout your lives,” Fox told the graduates.

She urged them to stay connected to their alma mater, saying, “As alumni, we have a unique responsibility to give back to the institution that has given us so much.”

“Whether it’s through financial support, volunteering, or simply staying in touch, we can all play a part in ensuring that future generations of students have the same opportunities that we did,” Fox said.

Of the 2,139 students receiving degrees at May commencement, 22 received associate degrees, 337 received bachelor’s degrees, and 1,780 received master’s degrees.

Candidates for graduation receive their degrees on the recommendation of the faculty and the approval of the Board of Trustees.

For additional commencement photos, visit Campbellsville University’s Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/campbellsvilleedu/albums.

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university that offers over 100 programs including doctoral, master, bachelor, associate and certificate programs. The website for complete information is www.campbellsville.edu.

Hayden Dabney of Mannsville grabs a picture with his aunt, Ann Dabney, following his commencement ceremony on Saturday. Dabey, who was valedictorian for his class, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Educational Ministries. Photo/Alexandria D. Dalton