With the spring semester coming to a close, Oklahoma Christian University will hold two commencement ceremonies on Friday, April 28.
Kerri Cunningham, the Executive Director of Campus Events, said this semester’s ceremony will differ with its keynote addresses.
“The morning ceremony will be traditional in many aspects, but one very distinctive difference will be our keynote speaker. President John deSteiguer will be giving his final public address as President before transitioning into his Chancellor role,” Cunningham said. “Since being named President in 2012, he will have presided over 47 graduation ceremonies after Friday’s activities.”
Additionally, Cunningham said another prominent keynote speaker will appear at the afternoon ceremony.
“Dr. Byron Newberry will be the keynote speaker at the afternoon ceremony,” Cunningham said. “This will be our largest graduate commencement ceremony.”
In conjunction with the keynote speakers, Cunningham said this ceremony will celebrate the various degrees Oklahoma Christian students have earned.
“Graduation ceremonies celebrate the accomplishments of students who have made the decision to advance their academic career,” Cunningham said. “We will be celebrating some getting their two year Associate degrees, the majority will be getting their four year Baccalaureate degrees and then many who are getting their advanced Master degrees.”
Bio Pre-Med graduating senior Lucas Martinez said Oklahoma Christian taught him what real community is, which, for Martinez, created a space for opportunities to arise.
“Oklahoma Christian taught me what it means to be surrounded by a group of Christians who strive to build each other up,” Martinez said. “Beginning with lab work freshman year and ending with multiple internships senior year, I learned saying yes to these opportunities gave me experiences and memories I would have otherwise never had.”
Martinez also said Oklahoma Christian aided his academic growth as well as his spiritual growth.
“Oklahoma Christian helped me grow spiritually in so many ways. The Bible courses helped teach me things about the Bible I didn’t realize before taking them,” Martinez said. “My friends and professors also played a large role in my spiritual growth. Always being around strong believers, I found myself pushed and challenged to grow in times of uncertainty and found myself growing closer to God.”
Vocal music education major Mikayla MicKinzie said her time at Oklahoma Christian strengthened not only her knowledge, but the mundane aspects of college.
“It taught me to give everything you can to the things you love and take every opportunity possible,” MicKinzie said. “Sure, I learned skills and knowledge needed for my degree but I also learned the entire college experience is through classes, friendships, clubs and athletics.”
MicKinzie said her involvement with New Reign at Oklahoma Christian offered her a once in a lifetime experience.
“I was able to take part in New Reign (Oklahoma Christian’s acapella group),” MicKinzie said. “I get closest to God through worship, so traveling around the country spreading the Gospel through song for three years was such a wonderful experience. The people I did it with exude God’s love and peace. These friendships are some I will have forever.”
Both MicKinzie and Martinez shared advice for underclassmen and those preparing to graduate next school year:
“Find your people, and then keep them,” MicKinzie said. “Go to church and explore your relationship with Christ and with each other. Have the time of your life. These really will be some of the best years of your life, so take moments in and cherish them.”
Martinez offered a similar sentiment.
“Take advantage of every opportunity when it comes your way. God gives you opportunities as a way to grow,” Martinez said. “Don’t be afraid to fail. Sure, failure is scary, but it’s the best teacher you can have, and you get the most experience from it as you learn what to fix and improve on.
“Try new things, maybe a new activity, new hobby, new campus event. The more you get out, the more you can get connected on campus and the bigger your community will be.”
There will be two commencement ceremonies on April 28, with the first one at 10 a.m. taking place outside the gym parking lot, and the second one at 2 p.m. in Baugh Auditorium.