Rev. Paul to Grads: "Do those things that make you feel most alive" (with video)
On a cloudy, chilly Saturday, 461 graduates received degrees at Roanoke College's commencement exercise on the John R. Turbyfill '53 Quadrangle.
The Rev. R. Paul Henrickson told the Colleges' graduates to "Do those things that make you feel most alive." Henrickson, a beloved faith figure at Roanoke, retires this year after 30 years at the College. He is Roanoke's Timothy L. Pickle, Jr. and the Timothy L. Pickle III Dean of the Chapel.
"Rev. Paul," as many students know him, told graduates to not be confused by the different voices that they will hear once they receive their diplomas and move into the next stage of their lives. These voices may call out for power, money, security or the desire to have children, a spouse and live in a house with a picket fence and a two-car garage, he said.
"How will you decide what voice to listen to?" Henrickson asked graduates. "I'm not into advice. I would rather tell you the truth."
"Somewhere out there, your name is being called to something very special ... My prayer for you this day is that you'll listen to the call that gives you fullness of life," he said. "Follow it wherever it might lead you."
Roanoke President Michael Maxey announced the creation of a new program, named for Henrickson, that will fund service opportunities for students as a form of experiential learning. It is called the Rev. R. Paul Henrickson Program Endowment for Community Service and Experiential Learning.
The College's Class of 2013 included students from 31 states and seven countries.
Two graduates were valedictorians: Jeremy Johnson, a chemistry major, and Kayla Muncy, a biology major. Both are from Bluefield, Va., and graduated from Graham High School. Each spoke at the ceremony and recognized Roanoke professors who inspired and helped them.
"I've been fortunate to work with Dr. Vernon Miller," Johnson said. "He taught me to think on a more analytical level."
Johnson participated in the Undergraduate Research Assistants Program, working with Miller, a professor of chemistry. Johnson plans to research cancer drugs and design drugs to fight the disease. His mother, a cancer survivor, is his inspiration. He has been accepted to the University of Kentucky's College of Medicine. Johnson was one of 282 students nationwide to win a prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship last year.
Muncy talked about her love of superheroes, and said she'd met some during her time at Roanoke.
"Dr. Tim Johann believed in me more than I did," she said. "Dr. DorothyBelle Poli helped me get into vet school and helped others get into graduate school. She helped shape our future."
Muncy also participated in the Undergraduate Research Assistants Program and plans to become a veterinarian. She has worked as a veterinary technician and logged 700 hours in veterinary clinics and even at Roanoke's Mill Mountain Zoo. Muncy is going to the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech.
Three students were salutatorians. They are: Edward Hrinya, a physics and philosophy double major from Salem; Katherine Thornton, an international relations and economics double major from Brentwood, Tenn.; and April Saul, a mathematics major from Catawba.
Two local residents received honorary degrees during the ceremony.
Regine N. Archer of Salem, Va., chairman and former president of Salem's Blue Ridge Beverage Co., was awarded the honorary Doctor of Commerce. Archer has been a Roanoke College Associate for 31 years, and she created the Regine Archer Endowed Scholarship for International Students, which provides financial aid to full-time international students. She also has served on the College's Fine Arts Endowment Committee.
Archer, a native of Belgium, became president of Blue Ridge Beverage in 1972, after her husband's sudden death. The company remains in the Archer family, with Archer's son, Bob, now its president and CEO. Archer has served in many community organizations, and she has won numerous awards for her business work and service, including induction into the Junior Achievement of Southwest Virginia's Business Hall of Fame, and the Lifetime Service Award by the National Beer Wholesalers Association.
Steven C. White of Copper Hill, Va., the principal guest conductor and artistic advisor for Opera Roanoke, received the honorary Doctor of Fine Arts. White is known as one of North America's premier conductors of both operatic and symphonic repertoire. In addition to Opera Roanoke, he has served as principal conductor for Opera Birmingham and as associate conductor and chorus master for Florida Grand Opera.
Additionally, White has been a Roanoke College Associate for four years, and his gifts have supported the Roanoke College Children's Choir. By his invitation, the Children's Choir has been consistently featured in Opera Roanoke productions. In the 2012 holiday season, Maestro White guest conducted the Roanoke College Choir in its first performance of Handel's "Messiah" in more than 30 years.
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