Ashley Flood of Arbuckle, CA, was one of 208 students to graduate this May from Westminster College in Fulton, MO.
Flood majored in Political Science.
Commencement speaker for the exercises was renowned Nigerian political activist, playwright, poet, author, teacher and Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka.
Soyinka, Africa’s first black Nobel Prize winner for Literature, reminded the graduates of their responsibility to never be complacent in life, their careers and in guiding the nation’s political future. He told them that they “should learn and keep as an embedded part of their existence” the accomplishments that have been made in their personal lives and their educational journey.
“We should never permit what has been gained, the advances that have been made to be frittered away through complacency,” Soyinka said. “The stream that flows from the accumulation of a watershed should not be permitted to dry up, to be polluted, or reversed to dissipate in arid land. It should flow forward, outward and irrigate the earth that belongs to and nourishes all humanity, irrespective of gender, race, faith or age.”
Westminster President Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande, who is also Nigerian and a long-time friend of Soyinka, presented him with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.
In her welcoming remarks, Dr. Carolyn Perry, Senior Vice President of the College and Dean of Faculty, challenged the students to “go boldly into the next chapter of your lives” and to never forget that the value of a liberal arts education is not so much in what one knows, but in what one is able to do with that knowledge for the good of the world.
John Elrod, Vice Chairman of the Westminster Board of Trustees, who also spoke to the class, told them: “We ask that you leave here today and do for Westminster what Westminster has done for you…give your all. Excel in your chosen field-always seek opportunities to lead-and when you are leading, be a solid team player.”
The Alumni Association Outstanding Senior Award winners were Molly Dwyer from St. Louis, MO and John York from Lee’s Summit, MO.
The Patricia Klein Liebling Parents Association Faculty Award is selected by the graduating seniors. This year’s recipient was Associate Professor of Biology Dawn Holliday.
Prior to commencement, Westminster celebrated the College tradition that has existed for more than a century by holding the baccalaureate service in the First Presbyterian Church of Fulton.
Baccalaureate speaker for the day was Rev. Aaron White, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Fulton.
Following commencement exercises, graduates participated in the historic Columns Ceremony, a Westminster tradition. Just as they are welcomed as freshmen into the Westminster community by walking through The Columns onto campus, graduates say good-bye to Westminster by walking back through The Columns and into the world.
Founded in 1851, Westminster College (Fulton, MO) is one of the top liberal arts colleges in America, according to all major educational ranking firms including U.S.News & World Report, Forbes magazine, The Princeton Review and Washington Monthly. The U.S. Department of Education Scorecard and national ranking service Niche.com have both recently placed Westminster in the top five of Missouri colleges and universities and SmartAsset.com ranks Westminster in the Missouri top five for high starting salaries for college graduates. College Factual ranks the institution in the top five percent of American colleges and universities that are the Best College for the Money. This selective college for men and women is an 86-acre residential campus in Fulton, MO. Westminster is a challenging academic environment where students are educated to lead and inspired to achieve. Ninety-six percent of Westminster graduates start their first job or enroll in graduate or professional schools within six months of graduation.
To learn more about Westminster College, people can visit the College web site at www.westminster-mo.edu.