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Home > Commencement 2012 Highlights Leadership & Compassion

Commencement 2012 Highlights Leadership & Compassion

May 14th, 2012

By David Halbrook. Photos by Art Cox.

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722

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Members of the class of 2012

Kicking off Saturday’s commencement ceremony with a verse from Colossians, Chancellor Michael Farris spoke a blessing over the 57 graduates, “asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way” (Col. 1:9-10).

With that, an emotional afternoon of cheerful recollections, stirring exhortations and fond farewells launched PHC’s new graduates, as family, friends, and well-wishers in a packed Hodel Center gymnasium -- together with more than 360 webcast viewers across the country -- bore witness to the boundless heart and potential of the Class of 2012.

Alan Carrillo delivers charge to graduates

Student Remarks

“I truly believe that sitting before me are attorneys who will valiantly defend human life, religious liberty, and traditional marriage,” said senior Alan Carrillo, outgoing student body president, in his Charge to Graduates. “I believe that there are statesmen who will honorably and competently tread the halls of power in our nation’s capital; I believe that there are pastors who will boldly preach the Gospel, unite the Church, and begin to see God’s kingdom manifest on earth as it is in Heaven. I believe that there are husbands and wives who will remain faithful to each other, sacrificially love their children, and teach them to ‘do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly’ with their God. (Micah 4:6). Some may think that this statement is wishful thinking at best or arrogance at worst. Frankly, I am just being realistic.”

Outgoing senior and beloved friend-to-all, Amy Kucks, concurred in her Student Remarks: “This is a class of leaders, a class who has fought many battles and sought the Lord together for four years.  I look at this group of young men and women of God sitting with me today and am astounded that I’ve been able to share the last four years of my life with them.  Some of the stories of how God led people to this school or provided the means for them to remain are simply miraculous.  He drew this specific group of people from all over the country to come together to form a class and a family -- to grow individually and as a whole closer in relationship to Christ, and I am so grateful that I’ve been able to be a part of it.”

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli delivers the keynote address

Keynote Address

Graduates and assembled guests were treated to a moving keynote address by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who, in congratulating graduates on “completing an amazing journey,” compared them favorably to an earlier generation that pioneered a new nation on the sure foundation of faith in God and strong educational values.

“You’re looking at a very bright future because of a strong foundation you have built here,” he began, “with stellar learning in history, logic, civics, economics, philosophy and in the Bible. You have been trained and equipped to help transform American society through careers serving God, and wherever you will be, serving mankind with justice, kindness and mercy. Here you’ve learned leadership, virtue and commitment, and have been given the tools to become influential Christian leaders.”

In a culturally pointed, wide-ranging address, Cuccinelli made reference to the College’s namesake, patriot Patrick Henry, who “lead with moral courage and restraint” in his steadfast though heavily critiqued opposition of the new U.S. Constitution. Yet by compelling founding statesman James Madison to push through of a critical Bill of Rights, protecting states from what Henry foresaw as the overbearing  power of the federal government, the famous patriot “set an example for others. Reflecting back,” Cuccinelli observed, “maybe being paranoid (about rampant federal power) wasn’t such a bad idea.”

Amy Kucks delivers student remarks

Raising the specter of the culture wars, he spoke to advances in science and technology that are “advancing so fast that we aren’t able to flesh out the full ethical and moral consequences,” foisted on society by a “scientific community so viciously secularized that bringing a Christian perspective to bear is one of the most difficult challenges you can face.” Yet, he continued, “somebody has to do it, and those assessments need to be made by people who have a moral filter that only comes from faith.”

For graduates eyeing a career in politics, he offered, “I hope that many of you participate in politics, but not because you want to win, but want to be right. The political goal, for me, is not to legislate the Bible but to incorporate my faith in everything I do. Your faith should buttress everything, and it should guide your character. That will give you the strength to keep working for what is right and just even when the odds are seriously against you.”

Finally, in confronting the inevitable clash of values grads will encounter in the intensifying culture wars, he counseled compassion and restraint.

 “We need to bring other people to faith, to be a force in the battles before us,” he reminded grads. “We (conservatives) use all of these war analogies, but in these battles we don’t want to kill anybody. We want to convert them, bring them over to our side. Ultimately, our goal is to bring the person on the other side over here, which means we must continually calculate our rhetoric to focus on what we have in common.”

PHC President Dr. Graham Walker addresses the new graduates

Closing Message to Grads

In his charge to graduates, bringing Commencement 2012 to a close, President Graham Walker cited the parable of the sower in Mark 4, challenging graduates to attend carefully to “small things” amid their ongoing quest of big things. “We live in a culture preoccupied with strategies that can be counted on to have quick results, measurable returns on investment, checkpoints and benchmarks,” he began., “Don’t get me wrong -- there is a really good place for this thinking in business and management, higher education and government agencies. But be wary of letting this kind of thinking define how you think about yourself, or your life, or your soul.

“I challenge you to do the small and good things within your reach. A word of kindness to a friend or a stranger in the market, a prayer of intercession for a co-worker, a small comment during office chat so that somebody might be given the benefit of the doubt; perhaps letting somebody else get the credit,” he continued, “or saying ‘thank you’ to someone who really ought to be saying ‘thank you’ to you; or stopping to pray with someone when you hear a need. If you invest in the small things that may only be valued in the Second Coming of Christ, your heart may be secure even when doing the big things for God.”

Trustee George Clay closed with a final benediction, asking God “to shine Your face on these graduates and our nation, and mold these graduates into brave and courageous men and women who will help shape this nation and help us become, once again, a people and nation whose God is the Lord.”

As the ceremony ended, new graduates, friends and family members stood to face one another with elated smiles, cheers, and a few tears, ready to celebrate and eager to embrace a future fully anchored in the hard-earned promise of a PHC degree, and in the free gift of a sure Foundation.

Special Student Awards

  • Alumni Association Award – Paul Devamithran
  • Classical Liberal Arts Award – Marjorie Somerville
  • History Award – Leslie Brown
  • Literature Award – Erik Landstrom
  • Journalism Award – Ian Reid
  • Government Award – Paul Logan Spena
  • Special Oratory Award – Zachary Enos
  • Tim and Beverly LeHaye Leadership Awards – Alan Carrillo and Nicole Frazer
  • Trustees’ Academic Excellence Award – Alex Harris