HSU Graduates Encouraged to "Make a Difference, Have Roots, and Expect Change"
From the second row of Behrens Auditorium, graduating senior Bryce Hopson is heard to say, "Congratulations Coleman."
Bryce is one of 307 Hardin-Simmons University students who graduated this past week during the first of two commencement ceremonies. Bryce's sincere sentiment sums up the camaraderie HSU graduates and students have for each other.
HSU juniors Michael and Candace Garza, from Wichita Falls, along with friends Kyle Parker of Abilene and Cynthia Li from Hong Kong, brought flowers to hand out to many of their graduating friends. Cynthia says she really will miss her friend Joanna Muttiah, who came to HSU from Malaysia four years ago.
The candidates for graduation gathered just before the ceremony in Van Ellis Theatre to get last-minute instructions from Bible professor, Dr. Larry McGraw. Meanwhile, David Rogers, graduating with a Bachelor of Behavioral Science degree, managed to break any tension and entertain fellow students as he playfully attempted to sneak into a photo.
Inside Behrens Auditorium, stately music played by university organist Dr. Hye-Jean Choi filled, the room. Graduates, meanwhile, filled the first dozen or so rows as cameras flashed and family members shouted names and waved from the balcony in efforts to signal to their loved one.
The family of Melissa Tadsen filled up a whole row of seats plus a few more. Her father, Mike Tadsen, says they drove in from Burleson for the ceremony. "Melissa has been here for six-and-a-half years," he said with admiration for his daughter. "We did this four years ago when she got her Bachelor of Science. Now she is graduating with a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree."
Giving the charge to the graduates, Dr. Tommy Brisco, dean of HSU's Logsdon School of Theology, told them to be prepared for change. "It is very likely," says Brisco, "that your generation will see more change than any other previous generation. In fact," he continued, "you have already seen a great deal of change."
As a way of example, the dean told the graduates, "The Egyptian civilization changed very little in 1,500 years. From the builder of the pyramids to Ramses, Egypt remained very much the same."
"My grandmother moved in a buckboard from Magazine, Arkansas, and lived to see a man walk on the moon. Futurists tells us we may be only at the beginning of accelerated change. At the extreme edge, some predict 20,000 years of accelerated technology during just the 21st century," he observed.
"Things will happen, not long from now, that we can hardly imagine today." Brisco drew a laugh from the audience as he pondered, "Things are happening so fast that I'm even losing count of the planets! And then I hear there are another 373 outside our own solar system!"
"What do you do?" he asked rhetorically. "The Bible says, 'do not fear.' That is one of the most common commands found in the Bible." He went on to tell the students, "When angels appeared before Mary of Nazareth, they said, 'Do not fear.' God intends for us to live in victory."
"What you have experienced here gives you reason not to fear. You have a foundation with which to go into the future." Brisco continued, "You possess not only knowledge and skills, but also the capacity to think, analyze, reflect, adapt, and create. Your HSU education not only developed the mind, but also nurtured your heart and soul."
"Secondly," he added, "hang on to the things that are important to you. In a world of change, you need constants...God, friends, family, and the people you have encountered here."
"Thirdly," he said, "In the midst of all of this change, determine that you will make a difference in the world. As you leave from here, make a difference by investing in people lives."
"He who wins is not the person with the most toys, but the person with the most friends. Turn your attention to people and the problems they face." Brisco said, "Use your resources to impact people. Go out and share your hope with them."
"Go as a child of God and an alumnus of Hardin-Simmons University. Make us proud."
Photos: Bryce Hopson; Rachel Simmons performs; Christopher and Calista Renfro point to name on Alumni Wall