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BC Bids Farewell to Seniors

The 2007 graduating class was acknowledged at the annual Senior Banquet held April 11. Faculty and staff awards were announced along with this year's senior class gift. As commencement day approaches, these busy seniors enjoyed the chance to spend time and discuss future plans with their peers.

Seniors Morgan Younge (left) and Emily Potter at the senior banquet.

After a reception in President and Nancy Shinn's home, the seniors enjoyed a meal together in Baird Lounge. Director of Alumni Relations Mae Suramek greeted the students, and Senior Class President De-An Watkins reminisced about the students' "fun, exciting, challenging, boring, demanding and ... rewarding" four-year journey. "Many of us have accomplished the impossible despite the challenges, adversities and those who said that we would not make it," she proclaimed. "Only the strong survive, and here we are, ready to leave our marks in the world."

President Shinn then told students of bygone Bereans like Julia Britton Hooks, Berea's first African-American faculty member, who had broken the mold. He encouraged the class of 2007 to do the same.

Many exciting opportunities await these soon-to-be graduates. April Aldeen, a philosophy and religion major from Kingsport, Tenn., says she plans are to attend Vanderbilt University to study divinity while working as a R.A. for an undergraduate residence hall. Sonya Kamanda, biology major and native of the West African country of Cameroon, says she intends to go to medical school and pursue her doctorate in oncology, the study of cancer. Meagan Henry, a sociology and business major from Tennessee, intends to marry her fiancé, Robert Henry, and prepare for the birth of their first child, while Patrick Bradford, an art major from Fairfield, Ala., intends to work hard while pursuing his graduate degree.

An assortment of achievements and challenges await these students and nearly 300 other May and December graduates. Still, these seniors thanked the faculty and staff who encouraged them, challenged them and prepared them for the adventures ahead.

Seniors voted Dr. Richard Sears as the professor "who pushes the envelope and challenges students to do their best," while Andrew Baskin was recognized as the professor whose lectures are "most likely to cure insomnia." Dr. Billy Wooten received the award for the most dedicated faculty member who "goes above and beyond the call of duty and involves himself in all aspects of Berea life." For the staff awards, Larky Crawford of the art department was honored as the most supporting labor supervisor, and Dr. Richard Olson of the SENS department was given the "You're Fired" award for molding his student workers with a little tough love. The "Helping Hands" departmental award was given to the Learning Center for its diligent work in assisting the student body.

Seniors Leonard Gordon and Anastasia Shegay then announced this year's senior class gift: a scholarship to be donated to the Berea Fund in honor of a rising senior, as opposed to a permanent fixture on campus. The Senior Leadership Committee, under the direction of Chris Schill of Alumni Relations, decided that a scholarship would promote the idea of philanthropy and support of the college. "A gift to honor the work of someone else and a gift that will help future generations of students, we think ,will get across the idea, purpose and need for philanthropy and giving back," Schill said. "Our goal for this year is $1,500, and we hope to present this check to the President at the luncheon that he hosts with the seniors and their families on the day of commencement."

To conclude the banquet's festivities, Vice President for Alumni and College Relations Bill Laramee led the seniors in a recitation of the alumni pledge to commemorate the values and mission of Berea College. Each senior vowed to "life a life of purpose and service ... embrace the dignity of all labor ... and continue to find Berea College a place of self-discovery."

Before the seniors depart from their Berea home, some have chosen to leave advice for those following them. Jersey Napoleon, biology major and native of the Dominican Republic, offered, “No matter how bad things may get, there is hope!”

Esther Dansby, another biology major from Birmingham, Ala., said, “Don’t be stressed about the future. Go after anything that interests you.”

Best wishes to the class of 2007!

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