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MVNU graduates destined to influence the future

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio —Mount Vernon Nazarene University celebrated its traditional graduates with a Baccalaureate Worship Service Friday, May 3, and commencement exercises on Saturday, May 4, in the R.R. Hodges Chapel/Auditorium. Graduates were encouraged to serve their purpose without limitations and to be cognizant of the influence they will have in the world.

Bret Layton, M.Min., West Virginia South District Superintendent Church of the Nazarene, used the story of King David during the Baccalaureate service to illustrate the potential in each graduate, despite how others may see them.

“When nobody really believed in him, (David) believed in himself,” said Layton. “I imagine that he believed so much in himself because he knew that he had a purpose in life. … He knew in his heart that God would use him to make a difference.”

Whether limitations are self-imposed or by society, Layton stressed each graduate has a God-given purpose and they alone have the power to persevere and overcome.

“Whatever limitations you have in life don’t have to hold you back unless you let it,” Layton said. “We can rise above and be victorious just like David.”

The university conferred 237 undergraduate degrees during commencement exercises Saturday morning.

“Welcome to this day of celebration, accomplishment and worship,” said MVNU President Dr. Henry W. Spaulding II. “Today is a happy day. Happy for our graduates, happy for our parents, happy for friends and happy for relatives. Most of all, it is a happy day for those of us who have walked this way for you during these years.”

Spaulding read from Psalms 62, “For God alone my soul awaits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I will never be shaken,” and encouraged the Class of 2019 to carry the scripture as their anthem.

Commencement speaker C. Todd Jones, J.D., president and general counsel of the Association of Independent College and Universities of Ohio, spoke to graduates about the influence they will have in the world to generations to come.

“You matter to the future in ways you will never know,” Jones said. “In fact, those you change will never know it was you. The goodness of your life will benefit people you will never know. They will never know it was you that passed on traditions or created a life model that they are following.”

As an example, Jones reflected on MVNU’s 50th anniversary in 2018, and how the university has prospered under the leadership of those who had no idea how many classes of students would be influenced by the pioneer spirit and dedication.

“This institution’s founders envisioned an institution of higher education, but even they could not probably foresee the full impact of what they did,” Jones said.

Assistant professor of psychology, Carla Swallow, was recognized with the Excellence in Teaching Award.

“It is fitting that MVNU honor Professor Swallow today for her distinguished service to students, life of the university and the community,” said B. Barnett Cochran, Ph.D., Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer. “As a member of the MVNU community, Professor Swallow engages students and colleagues broadly in the integration of relevant, relational Wesleyan theology in the field of psychology.”

Bailey Phillips and Guillermo Morales were awarded the Service Above Self Award for their demonstration of leadership in academic and extra-curricular activities and exemplary service to the university, church and community.

“The Service Above Self Award recognizes those students who have distinguished themselves through their college career through service to others. These individuals represent the highest ideal of our university motto, ‘To seek to learn is to seek to service,’” said Tracy J. Wall, Vice President for Student Life.

 To watch the video of commencement, click here.

For more information on the Graduate and Professional Studies commencement exercise, click here.

Mount Vernon Nazarene University is a private, four-year, intentionally Christian teaching university for traditional age students, graduate students, and working adults. With a 327-acre main campus in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and several convenient Graduate and Professional Studies locations throughout the state, MVNU emphasizes academic excellence, spiritual growth, and service to community and church. MVNU offers an affordable education to more than 2,200 students from 31 states and 22 countries/U.S. territories.