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Commencement Speeches Reaffirm PHC Mission

May 22nd, 2006

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 338-8727
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

PHC Class of 2006
PHC Class of 2006

PURCELLVILLE, VA—On a sunny, blustery Saturday morning, May 20, 49 Patrick Henry College seniors closed out their undergraduate careers with fond farewells, laughs, tears, and stirring charges by classmates that seemed, to some, a rousing reaffirmation of the College's untiring mission. Commencement speaker, Fox News Managing Editor, Brit Hume, highlighted the affair with a warm, entertaining address, spinning anecdotes about network news and D.C. politics while extolling the virtues of a quality education like that enjoyed at PHC. Cautioning grads, however, that once in the workforce few will care from what college they hail, Hume assured all that, "If you're good, you'll get ahead -- guaranteed. Be patient, and always be positive." Closing on a solemn note, he shared the tragedy of his journalist son's unexpected death, and of the transforming season that followed.

"I somehow felt that God was going to rescue me," he quietly explained. "I felt closer to God in that darkness than I ever had, and I haven't been the same since."

PHC graduate and Bevery LaHaye Leadership Award recipient, Marybeth Clemmer, a government major, opened her Student Remarks with thanks to parents and faculty, and with a colorful chronology of the unforeseen obstacles graduates had weathered to earn their diplomas. Anticipating a future filled with "challenges that make deciphering Mansfiend's Taming the Prince or translating Virgil's Eclogues seem like mere child's play," Clemmer noted, from her vantage as a former White House intern, that while her fellows are amply equipped academically, "what sets Patrick Henry students apart is that which also unifies us. We are bound together by the ties of a common faith and a common vision: our work is for Christ first and for liberty.

"Vision alone won't change a nation," she cautioned, "but the God-centered personal character motivated by that vision will. That is what will make it possible for us to actually have an impact."

In his President's Remarks, Dr. Michael Farris, soon to be Chancellor, decoded the construct of PHC's motto: "For Christ and for Liberty," stressing that, in whatever realm it is pursued, liberty can be truly understood or attained within the framework of an abiding relationship with Christ. Challenging graduates in their post-PHC quest for truth and promotion to be vigilant skeptics, weighing all against God's Word, he exhorted the Class of 2006 to exercise critical thinking after the manner of the Bereans (Acts 17).

"It doesn't matter if we read Aristotle or Augustine or Marx or C.S. Lewis or Dallas Willard," he encouraged the class, "… we should read every human author with the kind of critical examination employed by the Bereans. We should search the Scriptures daily to see if these things be so. Abiding in God's Word is the only way to acquire the kind of critical thinking skills that will actually result in the discovery of truth."

Graduating senior Judah Kiley, a literature major, perhaps best summarized the day's undercurrent in his fervent Charge to Future Graduates. Discarding the popular usage of the term "Victory," Kiley set about reinvigorating for his departing compatriots a guiding framework by which to navigate the journey ahead.

"Victory is not a Republican president, congress, and nine conservative Supreme Court Judges," he clarified. "Victory is not returning America to the state of its founding. Victory is not yours to win. It has already been achieved in the person of Jesus Christ the Son of the living God. Jesus Christ … is not a stamp of approval for your personal ambition and desire. Jesus Christ… is the face of God in whom all glory dwells. Whether you succeed or fail, He will be gloried, and whether America stands or falls, He will be exalted."

Acknowledging a common thread among PHC students who have, through a vigorous work ethic and challenging curriculum, been afforded skills, aspirations, as well as opportunities, to influence and transform, Kiley turned his remarks on the thin promise of bright futures marked by achievement in all of its forms.

"If your grades are more urgent to you than encountering the Person," he pressed on, "or if your vision of change and transformation of this nation and culture are more pressing than the exaltation of God, then no matter how well intentioned you may be, you have missed the point of our faith completely.

"Do you think that somehow your achievements will compensate for your lack of worship?" he challenged his classmates. "Seek that place where you will find his glory thickest. That is your vocation." Then, reciting from Jeremiah 9:23-24, Kiley sealed the day's common theme. To his simple admonition -- "… whichever you pursue, remember this: Victory is to know Him and be known by Him" -- the audience rose, softly applauding, in a standing ovation.

Click on the links to read, in their entirety, the PHC Class of 2006 Commencement Addresses by Dr. Mike Farris, Marybeth Clemmer, and Judah Kiley.

Awards Given to Graduating Seniors

Alumni Association Award - Jason Carini
Literature Award - Helen Wiley
Oratory Award - Rachel Williams, Brian Wright
Trustees' Academic Excellence Award (given to the senior with the highest GPA) - Sarah Wilson
Tim LaHaye Leadership Award - Edward "Joey" Piotrowicz
Beverly LaHaye Leadership Award - Mary Elizabeth Clemmer

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