Union confers degrees on 211 graduates

Published on
May 10, 2016

Union College 2016 Co-Valdictorians Union College conferred degrees on 211 graduates during the 2016 Commencement held on Saturday, May 7. The event was the 123rd Commencement ceremony held on the college’s historic Barbourville campus.

The Class of 2016, is a special one to Union College President Marcia Hawkins. Dr. Hawkins began her tenure at Union in 2012, when the graduating class entered the institution as freshmen. She reviewed the message she gave students during her inauguration when speaking to them as graduates Saturday.

“Put aside all of your fears and jump into your future knowing that you have the support of those around you,” she said. “I know that when you leave here, you will continue to represent Union College. I know you will represent it well.”

Dr. Hawkins had the privilege of sharing the stage with four Union College students, named co-Valedictorians for the 2016 Commencement. The students – Tyler Timothy Carter of Barbourville, Alexandra Layne Estes of Corbin, Laurel Celeste Everett of Mount Juliet, TN and Lydia Marie Nash of Florence – took the stage together, jointly delivering a portion of the Commencement speech.

They thanked many who supported their academic endeavors, including “everyone at Union for growing me and shaping me in ways I never thought possible.”

Tom C. Clark, a descendent of Union founders James D. Black and James T. Gibson, delivered the keynote address to the Class of 2016. Clark, a native Knox countian, paralleled the early struggles of the residents of Barbourville, whom founded Union in 1879, to the struggles today’s graduates face.

“Union College stands as a testimony of what can be achieved when diverse people work together,” Clark said. “There is so much change you have to deal with today, but the values to deal with that change remains the same as it was for our ancestors.”

The 2016 graduating class included 10 students who earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree, 133 students earned a Bachelor of Science Degree, 51 degrees were issued for Master of Arts in Education, 16 Educational Specialist degrees were issued, seven students earned a Master of Arts in Psychology Degree and 12 students were recognized as meeting the requirements to earn a certificate as a Chemical Dependency Counselor.

In addition to the recognition of students, several faculty members were recognized for their contributions to Union College. Dr. Jason Reeves was presented with the United Methodist Exemplary Teacher Award; Dr. Jim Rubin and Dr. Manikya Rajakaruna were presented the Excellence in Research award and Karl Wallhausser was presented the Excellence in Teaching Award.

The 2016 Commencement ceremony was preceded Friday night by the 2016 Baccalaureate ceremony. This traditional ceremony included around 75 students who honored family, friends and faculty members for their support.

As freshmen, Union College students are presented a CIRCLES medallion, which represents Union’s core values and commitment to students – Celebration, Integrity, Responsibility, Civility, Lifelong Learning, Engagement and Spirituality. During the Baccalaureate ceremony, students present those medallions to their chosen supporter, completing the circle.

One Union College student is chosen to represent each value of CIRCLES and speak to the importance of that value. They then present their medallion. Those students included Margaret Watkins, John Patrick White, Chandler Gray, Stefanie Edgell, Briana Patel, James Becknell and Alexandra Estes.

The Reverend Mark A. Gibbons, Superintendent of the Owensboro District of the United Methodist Church, delivered the Baccalaureate address. Rev. Gibbons address was titled, “Life After College.”

“There is life after college,” he said. “But, there is just enough death in the transition from college to make the next chapter in life seem as if you are reborn.”