By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
ALEXANDRIA (LBM) – Louisiana College President Rick Brewer was sentimental during the school’s 164th commencement ceremony, May 4, reminding the students they were the first class to begin as freshmen and finish as seniors since he became president of the school in 2015.
The 245 graduates composed the largest class to collectively earn a degree since Brewer began his tenure at the Pineville campus.
“We’ve been on a journey together and we’ve seen a lot of changes haven’t we,” he told the graduates. “We’ve seen a lot of good things. We’ve experienced things together. We’ve prepared graduates and we’ve transformed lives. That’s the focus of our vision at LC.”
The school presented 31 associate’s, 125 bachelor’s and 89 master’s degrees at the Rapides Parish Coliseum in Alexandria. During a time of special recognition, Brewer presented the family of Dedrick Cole with his award post-humously. Cole died unexpectedly from a heart attack March 7.
Brewer also conferred honorary doctorates to David Hankins, who is retiring June 30 as executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention; Johnny Martin, chairman, Martin Sustainable Resources of the Louisiana-based Roy O. Martin Lumber Company; and, Randy Harper, former chairman of the LC Board of Trustees, an active LC trustee, and pastor of Bellaire Baptist Church in Bossier City. The college also conveyed distinguished service awards to Byron McGee, retired vice president for advancement, and Ben Yang, retired music professor.
Brewer told the graduates they have gained critical thinking and problem solving skills that are essential in the the workforce. “I’m here to tell you that’s the heart and soul of what we do at LC,” he said. “These students have been equipped to do critical thinking, analytical reasoning and problem solving. And then they’ve learned what Paul said in Colossians 2:3 that ‘all treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ Jesus.’”
“You take a young person, or a person of any age, who can do critical thinking, problem solving and analytical thinking, and you infuse that with the mind of Christ — there will always be a place for you in the leadership. You are markedly prepared for the leadership challenges of the 21st century,” he continued, “and I’m pleased today we can celebrate with you what you’ve accomplished.”
During the keynote address, Martin told the graduates to become lifelong learners and offered as guides for future growth the core values of respect, integrity, commitment, honesty, excellence and stewardship that his company emphasizes.
“While this degree gives you an advantage in the job market, it is not a predictor of your success,” Martin said. “It is important to work for a company with a strong sense of values and culture. Values and culture determine a business not profit.”
INSPIRED, INSPIRING GRADUATES
The ceremony also featured inspiring testimonials from graduates. Jamarcus Fitzpatrick encouraged his fellow students and others to pursue their dreams.
“In the same way Martin Luther King Jr once said he had a dream,” he said. “I too have a dream. We all have dreams. My dream is to see everyone fulfill their dreams. Today I am encouraging everyone, all of you in this coliseum, no matter what your age, where you’re from or what you look like, I’m encouraging you to dream on.”
Shelby Bergeron said her classmates, professors and community leaders helped her grow closer to Christ.
“Spiritually let me say I can attest to God moving mountains,” she said. “There are so many people I have seen surrender their lives to Christ because of this institution. Sure, the chapels we have to attend each week leave an impact but the biggest impact I have seen are the relationships people create amongst one another to truly show the love of Christ.”