Achievements Recognized, Degrees Awarded
Submitted on May 12, 2018
A spectacular spring day enhanced a joyous occasion on the lawn of Giddings Hall as the Georgetown College community came together Saturday, May 12 to reward the accomplishments and impressive achievements of 171 graduating seniors earning Bachelor's degrees and 99 Master of Arts in Education graduates.
Commencement is one of the most special moments for the campus. It marks the official close of the academic year and is a time for the presentation of insightful, challenging, and inspirational messages as graduates prepare to further impact our world.
Ms. Haley Von Oliver of Goshen, Kentucky, a Psychology major and an Oxford Honors student, was selected by her class to deliver the Senior Address. She rejoiced with her classmates, reflecting upon their transformation and experiences from freshman year to graduating seniors.
Ms. Von Oliver has been actively involved in campus life as a member of Sigma Kappa Sonority, the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, the Women and Gender society, and the Track and Field Team. In 2017, she was the Mid-South Conference Champion in women’s Pole Vault and in 2018 won the coveted NAIA Champions of Character Award partially in recognition of her work in the local community with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She plans to enter a doctoral program in occupational therapy after graduation.
After Ms. Von Oliver spoke, Ms. Natalie Fiepke of Elizabethtown, an English major with minors in biology and chemistry, presented the Class of 2018 gift of $6,000 to President Greene. Names of student donors are engraved on bricks placed at the entrance to the south campus Mills Residence Quad.
This was followed by the presentation of the President’s Honor Award recognizing an outstanding student who combines both academic and extracurricular excellence and rewards a graduating senior who has demonstrated exemplary Christian servant-leadership over a four-year period at Georgetown College.
In his remarks leading up to the presentation, President Greene noted that selecting one recipient is especially challenging because, he explained, “Georgetown is blessed with a number of gifted and deserving candidates.”
This year’s recipient, Ms. Jodi DeJohn, a double major in biology and Spanish and captain of the women’s soccer team, has been described by her professors as one of Georgetown’s brightest students and “a wonderful ambassador for Georgetown College,” with other nominators citing her friendliness, compassion, inquisitiveness, and outstanding work ethic, among other qualities. She is a member of Sigma Delta Pi and Phi Kappa Phi. The Versailles native plans to enter medical school at the University of Louisville.
Spring commencement is also the time when the College’s prestigious faculty award, the Don and Chris Kerr Cawthorne Award for Excellence in Teaching, is presented. It is Georgetown’s highest recognition for teaching and focuses attention on the educational mission of the school.
“This year’s recipient encourages her students to be courageous in challenging themselves,” said Dr. Rosemary Allen, Provost and Dean, as she announced Dr. Sheila Klopfer, Professor and Chair, Department of Religion, as the Cawthorne Award recipient. Citing comments from a number of nominators, Dr. Allen shared that Dr. Klopfer “is described as modeling courage, dedication, and trust because of her passion for truth and her genuine concern for student growth. She approaches her teaching with passion, humility, and humor, and as one student put it, ‘she places herself in the position of a learner, approaching each and every student as equally valuable in their contributions to the class,’ standing firmly beside her students.”
The commencement address was given by Dr. James Klotter, the State Historian of Kentucky and Professor of History at Georgetown College. In his talk, entitled “Old Memories and New Opportunities,” Dr. Klotter reminded students that their graduation is the culmination of a group effort: themselves, certainly, but also their parents and teachers. He noted that graduation will always be a special day in their book of memories and added that their college experience has given them the foundation for continued learning and growth as they make new memories and explore new opportunities. He encouraged them to always be open to growth as individuals but reminded them that individuals can make a difference if they work hard to make it occur. “You are the trustees of the future,” Dr. Klotter told the graduates, adding “As a futurist advised, ‘we must love our grandchildren more than we love ourselves’.”
Prior to formally awarding Master of Arts in Education degrees, Dr. Joy Bowers-Campbell presented the Graduate Dean’s Honor Award to Sarah Paige Sturgeon of Paris, Kentucky. A teacher in the public school system there who realized the need to include the Spanish-speaking community, she was recognized for her innovative approaches to teaching English as a second language. In particular, she was cited for starting Cafe Americano, a program connecting the schools, local community, and immigrants to foster a culture of citizenship and true community among all members. "This student is a true leader who embodies the values of Georgetown College and the graduate education department," said Dr. Bowers-Campbell.
Special recognition of the Class of 1968 was given during the ceremony. Members of that class, celebrating their Golden Anniversary, had the opportunity to reminisce and relive memories of their graduation while on campus for the weekend.
A full archived video of the 2018 Commencement is available online: https://vimeo.com/270147776