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Finals Week Commenced
The past week has been a flurry of finals—final exams, final services, and for many their final moments as PCC students. Commencement week has concluded.
Commencement week for most students means studying to achieve a good final grade, packing possessions they’ve accumulated, and spending time making a few more memories with their friends. For seniors, though, Commencement week is something very different.
Instead of packing to place their possessions in storage for the next year, they pack to move out and on to the next step of their lives. Instead of bidding a farewell to friends for the summer, they say “see you again” with perhaps a bit of uncertainty of when that will be. More importantly, though, they spend their final moments before graduation making countless memories through the ceremonies that honor their hard work.
“It’s kind of surreal to finally be here,’ said Abigail Wood (Sr., IL). “It’s exciting, though. I’m walking with some of my best friends and great students that have worked through the same classes and same difficulties as me.”
On Thursday, seniors filed through the Crowne Centre to pick up their regalia before attending Commencement rehearsal later in the day. With floor marshals helping to ensure things ran smoothly, the graduating class of 2019 practiced their every move from walking into the auditorium to walking across the Crowne Centre stage.
As many of the seniors left rehearsal eager for graduation on Friday, the senior nursing students had another ceremony to look forward to before Commencement. On Thursday evening, they donned their white lab coats and headed to the Dale Horton Auditorium for a long-awaited ceremony, the Nurses’ Pinning Ceremony.
“The Nurses’ Pinning Ceremony is a time-honored tradition,” said Denise McCollim, chair of the nursing department. “Friends and family come together to honor the nursing graduates with a pin that signifies the strength, truth, and beauty they have displayed throughout their nursing education and as they go out into the world to serve the Lord in the field of nursing.”
Each senior was pinned by a family member or friend. The physical memento of their years of hard work honored the time they spent dedicating themselves to excellence. It was a finale to the tests, clinicals, and other challenges they overcame.
Once the Nurses’ Pinning Ceremony was complete, PCC was prepared for Friday’s main event. When the auditorium doors opened at 9:30 a.m. on May 10 and the orchestra heralded their entrance, the seniors proudly filed up the aisles to their seats. As the ceremony began, hearts were full of joy and pride for the accomplishments of each graduate.
“Father, today we pause and recognize the accomplishments of this graduating class,” Pastor Redlin opened the ceremony with an invocation. “Soon, Lord, we will confer upon them degrees of learning and knowledge. They will walk across this platform, signaling the conclusion of their courses of study. Lord, I pray that the walk across this platform will symbolize a walk that faithfully continues on as a walk with You.”
As the ceremony proceeded, the auditorium joined together for the National Anthem followed by a moving rendition of “Behold Our God” from the Chamber Ensemble and a greeting from Dr. Shoemaker.
“Our entire college community has been encouraged this year to rise up and lead with purpose,” said Dr. Shoemaker. “Now, at the end of this academic journey, let me challenge you one last time, rise up to even greater heights. Today’s a big day, maybe the biggest day in your life so far, but tomorrow—tomorrow God will take you even further. He will raise you up to heights beyond your imagination. Your greatest days are ahead when you allow God to raise you up to heights that you’ve probably never even dreamed of to this point.”
As the seniors excitedly awaited their turn to walk across the stage, Dwight Vanderboegh and John Gettys Allen were awarded honorary doctoral degrees, and Dr. Redlin presented a commencement address. “Graduate, you have finished this course. You are furnished with the tools making you empowered to influence your world for Christ. Now, go set the world on fire for the glory of the Almighty,” he said.
At long last, the seniors had their chance to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas. Over 1,000 degrees were conferred on students from across the globe. With the turning of their tassels, the class of 2019 graduated, stepping from the role of students to alumni.
While many saw this as a final step in their academic careers, the proceedings of the Commencement ceremony showed that commencement isn’t an ending, but a beginning. While one stage of life may be finished, an all-new stage is about to start.