2024 Grace Christian University Commencement

May 10, 2024 | Blog, News

The community of Grace Christian University was alive with excitement on Saturday, May 4th. Graduates and families gathered for the 2024 commencement ceremony. The event took place at Rush Creek Bible Church in Byron Center, Michigan. Graduates arrived early to meet loved ones and take photos celebrating their achievements. Before the ceremony began, the soon-to-be alumni lined up in the church gymnasium for prayer. They asked for God’s blessing over the special event. As the ceremony commenced graduates processed into the sanctuary to “Pomp and Circumstance.” After all were seated, university president Ken Kemper welcomed everyone. He also introduced the student speakers sharing reflections from their time at Grace.

Graduate Speeches

Parker Neu, receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Business, was the first to take the podium. He spoke powerfully about how his time at Grace transformed his life and brought him into a deeper relationship with God. Parker shared how letting the Lord take control allowed him to experience great achievements, both academically and as a star player on the university’s basketball team. He quoted Proverbs 3:5-6, encouraging his fellow graduates to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Parker N

Next to offer an inspirational message was Cyrus Emelander, earning his B.S. in Leadership and Ministry. Cyrus prayed fervently for the Grace staff,  professors, fellow graduates, and all their families. He asked for boldness and courage as the graduates go out as ambassadors for Christ in the world.

The next speech was from Tamika Thompson. Tamika overcame immense difficulties from illness, homelessness, and juggling three jobs while working towards her B.S. in Human Services.  After attempts at other universities, she found her way to Grace where she drew close to Jesus and persevered. Quoting Isaiah 1:17. Tamika expressed her readiness to “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” wherever God calls her.

Elisabeth Gehman took the podium and read the words of Hebrews 12:1-3 to the congregation, followed by Melissa Moran, who received her M.A. in Higher Education Leadership. Melissa shared how after years as a youth leader, God brought her to Grace for further ministry training. She now serves joyfully at the university as an online enrollment advisor. Melissa encouraged everyone with the words of Ephesians 3:20-21 to give their best as ambassadors, sharing the immeasurable power and love of Christ.

Grace Awards

President Kemper then transitioned the momentous ceremony to the awards portion, where students were honored for excellence in various areas of study and campus life. The award recipients included:

  • Samuel R. Vinton Communication Award: Kylie Plichta
  • Charles F. Baker Bible and Theology Award: Tallon Palmateer (on-campus), Richard Taylor (online)
  • Pastor H. B. Prince H.B. Prince Preaching Award: Cyrus Emelander
  • T. R. Huston Christian Service Award: Elisabeth Gehman
  • Richard A. Velting On-Campus Business Leadership Award: Elisabeth Gehman (on-campus), Shanice Mullan (online)
  • Janice K. Schregardus Social Science Award: Sandra Cooper

After these prestigious awards were given to the deserving graduates, the ceremony proceeded as all the students earning an Associate of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Master of Arts degrees took their turn walking across the stage. One by one, their names were called out and they received their hard-earned diplomas, a proud moment as these graduates marked the culmination of their academic journey at Grace Christian University.

Grad Hand Shake

Congregational Song

After the degrees were awarded to the graduates. The congregation celebrated as Van Santhang led the congregation in joyfully singing of the hymn “Amazing Grace/My Chains Are Gone.” The powerful lyrics make the point of being set free through Christ and the transformation we find in becoming more like Christ.

Singing Grad

Joyous Celebration for Graduates

To bring the 2024 commencement ceremony to a close, Russell J. Kopp, a respected member of the university’s Board of Directors, took the stage. He prayed a powerful blessing over the new alumni, asking the Lord to use their gifts, passions, and educational training mightily as courageous ambassadors for Christ. Whether in their families, churches, communities, or wherever they go.

Grad Group

The recessional then commenced, with faculty, staff and board members making their way out, followed by the class of 2024 graduates. As the new alumni exited the sanctuary amid cheers from their loved ones, the joyous celebration continued with hugs, photographs, and praises to God for His faithfulness.

 

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