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Home > PHC Commencement 2008 Celebrates God, Service, and Love

PHC Commencement 2008 Celebrates God, Service, and Love

May 21st, 2008

By David Halbrook

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 338-8727

Graduates proceed to Commencement area in the ellipse

Graduates proceed to Commencement area in the ellipse

In what has almost become an annual tradition, spring rains yielded to blue skies in the hours prior to Patrick Henry College’s Commencement 2008. By the time the 63 graduates strode to the podium for their diplomas, even the stiff breeze had stilled, letting warm sunlight bathe this spirited tribute to four years of hard work, academic perseverance, and transcendent memories.

Graduates from 25 states received diplomas, including 43 government majors, nine journalism majors, six literature majors, three history majors and two classical liberal arts majors.

On a day in which eloquent speeches and grand ideals stirred a capacity crowd of parents, family and friends, commencement speaker Mike Huckabee’s keynote address proved a fitting highlight.

PHC Chancellor Michael Farris introduced the former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential candidate as “a person who beautifully articulates and lives out the goal of this College… which is to take the truths of Jesus Christ and His Word and translate them to a world in a manner that is winsome and articulate, so that anyone listening can see the common sense of following God.”

Mike Huckabee, 2008 Presidential candidate and PHC Commencement speaker

In his address, Huckabee launched graduates with a sometimes humorous, often sober-minded, reminder of why they chose PHC in the first place.

“You came here because you knew there was a unique and special purpose for this campus,” he began, “and that this was not just an ordinary institution in which you could fill your head with information, go forth and live out your lives and make money. You wanted more than to have a career or job -- you wanted to change the world. Frankly, if you had come for another reason you probably wouldn’t have lasted four years.

“Those who have stayed the course,” he added, “who have persevered through all of the academic challenges, have had a desire… to fill their hearts with fire and passion to change the world in which they live.”

Observing that in order to change the world, one must know one’s true purpose, Huckabee offered a distinctive perspective.

“No one is kept from the will of God because He’s holding it back,” he explained. “It’s not because God is unwilling to reveal it but because we’re not willing to obey it. He will not reveal our true purpose until we’ve given Him an absolute commitment… to accept the task even before we know what it is.”

Citing the need for graduates to bring both excellent academic training and “a plan” for success to their callings, he cautioned that “there are no guarantees that the enterprises upon which you embark are going to be successful in the eyes of those around you. What appears to be failure is often part of a process much bigger than anything you can understand.

“Trying to really be salt and light in a society and culture that is filled with decay and darkness,” he added, “is not necessarily an endeavor that will earn you the plaudits and approval of those around you.

“Perseverance,” he concluded, “is one of God’s greatest challenges to you. If you’re willing to take on those things everyone else runs from, chances are we’ll salute you one day.”

Government grad Caleb Jones delivers student remarks

In his Student Remarks, government major Caleb Jones also cautioned graduating seniors that, in their quest for significance, do not “let your lives be hollow.” His proposed remedy? -- “Do all things in love.”

“I’m here to warn you,” Jones began, “that as you seek meaning and significance in your life’s works… it will be hollow if you do not love. Love is not shown through programs, through job titles, government reform, or well managed organizations. Love is sacrifice, it is patience, it is kindness, it does not envy, it does not boast.

“I don’t need to encourage you to be more productive, to be more motivated, to make a name for yourself in the world, or to be the best and the smartest,” he continued. “It’s easy to remember to be motivated and productive. It is difficult to love. Don’t lose sight. Don’t give up. Fill your actions with meaning.”

Finally, in his Charge to Future Graduates, literature major David Carver brought his own definition to the topic of a classical Christian liberal arts education. In maximizing one’s experience at PHC, he called upon lyrics from a popular musical: “When you know the notes to sing/You can sing most anything.”

Literature grad David Carver gives the charge to future graduates

“A liberal arts education demands from its students a developed practice,” he began, defining a “liberal” mind as a “free mind, a forgiving mind that can interact with the creation in its wholeness.”

“Why do we learn the notes? -- to tuck them away in a mental recess?” he asked. “No, we learn the notes so we can sing! -- and not simply to sing. By learning the basic set of notes, we discover the key to singing anything conceivable.

“We learn so that we can more fully live and inspire others to do so themselves,” he concluded. “Find the Rock so you can build your house upon it. Learn the notes so you can sing.”

In his closing Benediction, PHC President Graham Walker prayed that the Lord would ask the Father to turn students’ “hearts and minds to Jesus in everything they do.” He prayed that students would “choose, like Mary, the one thing that most matters - Jesus Christ.”

At ceremony’s end, as part of the Presentation of Awards, the following graduating seniors were recognized for outstanding achievement in the areas of academic achievement, community service, oratory, and leadership:

Jordan Estrada: Alumni Association Award (community service)

Amy Alexander: Classical Liberal Arts Award

Jennifer Carden: Journalism Award

Erin Nekvasil: Government Award

Kawika Vellalos: Oratory Award

Will Glaser: Tim LaHaye Leadership Award

Kelsey Stapler: Beverly LaHaye Leadership Award

Will Glaser: Trustees’ Academic Excellence Award (for highest GPA)