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2009 Commencement Accentuates Faith Over Careers

May 18th, 2009

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

Peruse the 2009 Commencement photo gallery.

Watch a short video (2:40) wrap-up of Commencement 2009!

View video version of Meredith Schultz's Student Remarks.

Faculty pray for students at Commissioning ceremony

Under leaden skies that refused to yield to rain, 76 elated graduates received diplomas Saturday during Patrick Henry College’s Commencement 2009. Emergency back-up plans to relocate proceedings to a nearby high school were not needed, as stirring keynote messages from graduating seniors spoke to students and their families alike.

“To those of you who are graduating today,” began Meredith Schultz (Government), in her Student Remarks, “if I could give you one gift, it would be a lens to see unseen things; to see what God sees when we are working and living and loving here on earth.”

In a poignant and pointed commentary on both the Church and our times that visibly touched many audience members, Schultz, winner of the Beverly LaHaye Leadership Award, cautioned her fellow graduates to resist weighing their future works and accomplishments on worldly scales.

Meredith Schultz delivers Student Remarks

“I fear that, even as Christians, we are in danger of falling prey to the modern mindset,” she warned. “Why? Because there is a great temptation to pursue ends that have visible rewards, even as we may profess to desire the kingdom of God above all things. Take care that you do not equate earthly success with heavenly significance.”

Citing C.S. Lewis’s novel, The Great Divorce, Schultz recounted his parable of a woman named Sarah Smith, who while greatly honored in heaven lived her life on earth in obscurity. “’Even though she never wrote a best-selling book or brokered a peace treaty, her life radiated through her community, and more importantly, into eternity,’” Schultz recounted.

“There are lots of people who want to be Mr. President,” she noted. “There are fewer who want to be Sarah Smith. There are fewer who love the unseen things, the heavenly things; who want to make their mark not on Wall Street or K Street, but on the eternal human soul.

Graduates lift up worship to God

“If you choose to love the unseen things, there is a chance that you yourself will always be unseen; that God’s calling on your life will be one of complete earthly obscurity.”

In a closing reference to William Butler Yeats, Schultz called her classmates to “Exult! -- because we are not tied to an earthly economy. We can live without fear that our good deeds are passing by unnoticed. We have an ever present witness for our works.”

In an amusing Commencement Address, Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard, observed of his own 1965 commencement, “I don’t remember the commencement address. You probably won’t remember that I’m even here.”

He defined graduation from college as that harsh transition from the largely carefree, unaccountable youth of “soft America” to the stiff competition and accountability of “hard America,” where no one is worried about your self-esteem.

Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard, addresses the graduates

“You leave here today fully in ‘hard America,’” he said, encouraging grads preparing to enter the full-time workforce that “being a Christian is a tremendous advantage. You have the understanding that you’re in the world but not of the world.”

Included among his thematic action points to grads were exhortations to “Wear your faith on your sleeve,” so as to connect with fellow Christians and “to give yourself the chance to evangelize,” and to “Go into careers in the secular world.” He especially admonished graduates “not to confuse your career with your life. Your career will take care of itself. Your life is your faith, your friends, your relationships.”

In his Charge to Future Graduates, John Curry, co-winner of the Tim Lahaye Leadership Award, contrasted the value of a deep, abiding faith with those benefits attained solely through a college diploma.

John Curry gives the Charge to Future Graduates

“What you will hold in your hand in a few short moments is precious, bought with years of investment that has cost much,” he said. “But what you hold in your mind and in your heart – that truth, that knowledge of Christ, freedom, faith and reason, of virtue, goodness and beauty, friends; that is auro pretiosior omni. It is more precious than all the gold in the world.”

In closing, Dr. Michael Farris in his Chancellor’s Charge, reminded graduates that their hard-earned diplomas were not “a means to an end. The end is to serve the Lord for Christ and for liberty. You did not attend Patrick Henry College simply to have a better education, but so that future generations will have a better America.”

Of the 76 PHC graduates who received diplomas, six majored in Classical Liberal Arts, 46 majored in Government, four majored in History, 14 majored in Journalism, and six majored in Literature.

Special awards were presented to the following students:

Alumni Award: Derek Archer

Classical Liberal Arts: Laura Ann Marshall

Journalism: David Nathaniel Martin

Government: Kelly-Christelle Patricia Orsini

Tim LaHaye Leadership:  John Michael Curry; Justin Michael Moore Jenkins

Beverly LaHaye Leadership: Meredith Susan Schultz

Oratory: Caitlin Rebekah Ries

Trustee Academic Excellence: Jessica Etta Pak

Read Meredith Schultz's Student Remarks. Watch it on video.

Read John Curry's Charge to Future Graduates