Embracing Uncertainty With Faith: Opportunities Await

Although Commencement is a closure to the days of formal instruction, it merely is the opening of the doors into the real world with its own terms. The truth is that I really don’t know what lies ahead for each individual student, and saying goodbye to my students is a bittersweet experience because I get attached to them and their personalities. I’m often amazed at how much they have changed in four years, as I have seen students get a good sanctified experience. People who know me know that I’m rooting for my students, and I take special care to pray for each of them.

Dr. Paul Kaufman

Professor Emeritus

Commencement Address

“Embrace uncertainty with faith, and you’ll find that every challenge becomes an opportunity.”

The 5 graduates of 2024 chose this as their motto, and it rings with a truth that is also reflected in the Word of God. In Isaiah 41:10 we are reminded that God’s care for his children gives us a future of hope instead of fear. “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

With some humorous sarcasm, Mr. Guntrum, the Commencement speaker, addressed the graduates. 

“Thank you for the invitation to share this day with you as your commencement speaker. It is an honor and privilege to give this address, especially to stand here as a fellow human being, as opposed to an AI Robot. More on that later. This is a special day that marks a milestone in your life, and in your pursuit of knowledge.

It’s often said that commencement speeches are seldom remembered and only halfheartedly listened to in the moment. So, I’m giving you, (the Graduates only), a chance to change that. If you contact me 5 years from today, and can share some accurate details of this address, I’ll have $50 worth of digital currency for you. Conditioned on me still being around of course. Feel free to contact me by Neura-Com or Brain-O-Link.

With that said, I guess I’ll focus on an introduction, a conclusion, and a few words to fill up the in-between.

Naturally, I just had to try out AI for an opening line. Here’s a couple of samples it generated for me:

‘Today, we stand at the precipice of possibility, ready to leap into the boundless opportunities awaiting us.’

‘Dear graduates, as we gather here today, adorned in our caps and gowns, we carry with us not just the weight of academic achievement, but the hopes and dreams of countless individuals who have supported us along this transformative journey.’

‘To the graduates of [College/University Name], gathered here in this hall brimming with promise and potential, I stand before you humbled and honored to address this distinguished assembly on this auspicious occasion of commencement.’

Not bad actually, but just not ME.”

As he developed his address he spoke to the outlook of this world searching for solutions to the problems at hand, and contrasted this approach with the solution consistent with the mission of Allegheny Wesleyan College.

“These times call for discernment, truthfulness, and dealing in realities. Acknowledging God in all your ways. Seeking and submitting to His Good Will.”

“And you don’t go unprepared. According to our mission statement, you have been prepared to effectively serve God, the church, and society, having (received) a Biblical education in a spiritual, social and academic environment, based on the conservative Wesleyan tradition.”

To this statement he added Isaiah 30:21 as encouragement in God’s guidance.

“And I would like to add to that my favorite verse from the same prophet: Isaiah 30:21 ‘And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.’”

Graduates

Joanna Troyer
BA in Cross-Cultural Missions
Valedictorian

Introduction by Jeanne Zvaritch

“Our valedictorian is celebrating her second graduation at AWC. The first one was when Salem Wesleyan Academy used the porch of this building to hold its high school graduation for the Class of 2020 during the Covid-19 era. Fortunately, tonight we are able to meet inside the building for our celebrations. Joanna applied herself to her studies as a freshman not knowing what her final goal was at AWC. I remember a year into her studies when she informed me that she had decided to go for the four-year bachelor’s degree. She set her mind like a flint and never turned back on that decision. Tonight she has completed that goal in four years. In all she has done, she has been quick to lend a helping hand. I can remember her helping me set up my tent on the first camping trip that I did with the AWC girls. She has been quick to volunteer with class and Mission Band projects, as well.

She has taken on every challenge with enthusiasm, expertise, and a smile. During the last four years she has been involved in ministry at NIBS, Haiti, and finally Peru where, she did her missionary internship. She also has served as the President of the Mission Band for the last couple of years. I am excited to see where God leads her next. I know that she will give any ministry her best.”

Saralyn Begay
BA in Music Ministry
Salutatorian

Introduction by Jeanne Zvaritch

“Our salutatorian came to us the fall semester of 2019. She immediately wowed us with her beautiful piano playing. During her tenure as a student, Saralyn was punctual and well-prepared for class. Faculty could rely on her to produce well-prepared papers and speeches. Her academic and spiritual aptitudes are now evidenced in beautiful masterpieces on the piano. She helped out in the Music Office and has played for many students taking voice lessons. She was always willing to lend a listening ear to anyone in need. In the Fall of 2021, she married her best friend, Trenton Troyer, and they are soon to welcome baby Troyer into their home. Her recital this spring was a beautiful display of what God can do with talents totally devoted to Him. We were totally mesmerized watching her play Toccata in E Flat Minor by Khachaturian. I would be surprised if the baby doesn’t take an interest in music, having heard so much skillful musicianship already. Saralyn is currently involved in worship music at the Canton First Church in Canton, OH. We are confident that God will bless her in the days ahead with fruit for her labors in the work of the Lord.”

Kirsten Pinkerton
AA in General Education

She will be attending nursing school at Kent State East Liverpool Branch.

Kailyn Hollabaugh
BA in Cross-Cultural Missions

She will be moving to Detroit, Michigan, and will be working in EFM’s Awake Cafe, as well as volunteering at HIM’s Angel House ministry working with Muslim women.

Hailey Fisher
BA in Elementary Education

She plans to teach school-aged children.

We congratulate each of you graduates, and we will be praying for God’s strength and guidance in the following phases of your lives! May God bless you!

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