Bethany, OK - Saturday May 12th, 2018. Southern Nazarene University held its 115th Commencement on Saturday, May 12, 2018, conferring over 400 degrees in two ceremonies. University President, Dr. Keith Newman (pictured left), presided over his inaugural Spring Commencement, and Dr. Carla Sunberg, General Superintendent for the Church of the Nazarene, delivered the Commencement address.
Dr. Sunberg (pictured below), was elected to the office of General Superintendent in June 2017. At the time of her election, she was president of Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO, where she had been serving since January 2014. She and her husband, Chuck, served 13 years as pioneer missionaries to the former Soviet Union, and then as co-superintendents of the East Ohio District Church of the Nazarene. Her message to the graduates was a call to use what they had been given at SNU, beyond a first-class education, that is, the virtues of moral excellence found in Christian principles that, when practiced, will define their character in every situation. She encouraged graduates to embrace their faith and dare to be different in order to make their world, and their lives, better.
The coveted President’s Award was presented to Miss Kaylin Cummings and Mr. Travis Vernier (pictured left), and returning graduates of the Class of 1968 were honored as this year’s Golden Grads. The morning ceremony concluded with the 85-year-old tradition of Ivy Ring, as this year’s graduates gathered around the Lamp of Learning on the central campus mall. Fittingly, this final act as a class took place where their undergraduate journey began with the candle-lighting service of their New Student Institute.
The afternoon ceremony for Professional and Graduate Studies programs was highlighted by the recognition of recipients of the Distinguished Achievement Award, honoring a graduate from each program group who excelled in academics, community service and leadership.
As part of the Commencement week activities, traditional program graduates gathered for a Baccalaureate service on Friday, May 11, 2018 with Dr. Fay Sheldon Quanstrom, graduate of SNU (’63) speaking. Rev. Dr. Quanstrom served in staff and pastoral roles at churches in England, Illinois and Arizona, and taught for 11 years, including positions at Northwest Nazarene University and Olivet Nazarene University.
In each of the Commencement ceremonies, Dr. Newman closed with a challenge to the graduates to hear Jesus’ words when he called us to a “Live Last” lifestyle. Dr. Newman said, “Our hope, our encouragement, our prayer is that you will go from this place and do great things – but that you will do those great things through service, by choosing to “Live Last.”