Hollins’ class of 2015 was encouraged to “live purposefully, live authentically, live courageously, live passionately, and live compassionately” during the university’s 173rd Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 24.
A total of 218 Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Fine Arts, and Master of Arts degrees were conferred during the morning ceremony on Hollins’ historic Front Quadrangle.
A photo album with highlights of this year’s commencement ceremony can be viewed here.
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale, a member of Hollins’ class of 1975 and founding and senior pastor of the 5,000-member Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Georgia, was this year’s guest speaker. Considered one of America’s most dynamic pastors, Hale told the graduates, “You are among the brightest and best minds in the world. You are gifted beyond measure, graced with unlimited potential and possibility. The sky is the limit for what you can be and what you can do.
“You sit poised for the next phase of your life, excited but no doubt a little anxious about leaving the place you’ve called home for the last four years. You are wondering if you are ready for the world. The question is not, are you ready for the world, but is the world ready for you?
“You are prepared to handle whatever challenges come your way as you take your rightful place in the world as Hollins women. [But] the world still struggles to be an equitable place in providing the same opportunities for women that it affords to men.
“My sisters, this is your cue. This is your moment in time. There’s a world out there that desperately needs you, your gifts, your knowledge, your creativity, your voice.”
Hale offered five principles to guide graduates whatever path they choose to take in life:
- “Focus your strength, time, and energy. What are the essential things you need to be doing? Get rid of all distractions. A purposeful woman is a confident woman.”
- “Be your true self. Women, one of our greatest challenges is to believe in ourselves. Where you go is really up to you. It’s all about what lies within.”
- “Be courageous. Some folks think courage is the absence of fear. But, it’s the ability to press on in spite of your fear.”
- “Passion is the key to success. Loving what you do will cause you to work hard to make it happen. Passion increases willpower when you get discouraged or tired. It makes the impossible possible.”
- “Value each person and treat them with dignity and respect.”
Following Hale’s remarks, Thomas Barron, chair of the Hollins University Board of Trustees, presented her the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa in recognition of her distinguished career in the ministry.
Hale’s address may be viewed in its entirety here.
Other honors presented at this year’s commencement included:
Faculty Awards for Academic Excellence
Given by the faculty, these awards recognize the students with the highest academic standings in the class of 2015. This year’s recipients are chemistry major Adeiye Ayodele Pilgrim (highest standing) and economics major Thao Thanh Nguyen (second highest standing).
Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award
Given by the New York Southern Society in memory of the founder, this award recognizes a senior who has shown by daily living those qualities that show love and helpfulness to other men and women. Chanice Holmes, a dance major, is this year’s honoree.
Annie Terrill Bushnell Award
Presented to the senior who has evidenced the finest spirit of leadership during her days at Hollins, this award was established by the late Mrs. William A. Anderson in memory of her mother. This year’s awardee is film major and Student Government Association President Georden West.
Jane Cocke Funkhouser Award
Honoring an alumna of the class of 1911, this award recognizes the junior or senior who, in addition to being a good student, is preeminent in character and leadership. Molly Budd, a biology major, is this year’s recipient.
Hollins University Teaching Award
This annual award celebrates a member of the teaching profession who has dedicated his or her time and talent in preparing the nominating student for an outstanding liberal arts education. This award is endowed by Mary Bernhardt Wolfe Decker ’58. Sister Mary Brigid Burnham, English and Latin teacher at Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries, Virginia, was presented this year’s award. She was nominated by English major Kathryn Sirks.