Burr Speaks at St. Andrews College Graduation
Relief, service and dedication were accented during the 114th annual commencement exercises last month at St. Andrews Presbyterian College
"We have made it," senior class speaker Joanna Hipp, of Vass, said during the ceremony. "Four years of uncertainty, and we stand here today. We believed in St. Andrews and St. Andrews believed in us. We came in with uncertainty. We did not know if we would even make it through the year.
"Accreditation issue after accreditation issue, and at last we can breathe. We did what very few people thought we could do. We survived. And now, four years later, we have walked across the causewalk for the last time as students, and are ready to embark on our new journey in life."
Her words captured the emotions of the event for many of the 120 graduates and their families and guests.
"Each graduating class is special in its own way for those of us who remain behind," college President Paul Baldasare said. "But I want all who are gathered here today to know that the members of the class of 2011, and their families, hold a very special place in our hearts and minds. Each member of the class and their families showed great courage in staying the course with St. Andrews through these challenging years, and we are incredibly grateful for the commitment and faith that you showed."
The 90-minute ceremony included the traditional procession across the causewalk behind the St. Andrews Presbyterian College pipe band and featured a commencement address by U.S. Sen. Richard Burr.
"It does not overstate the case to say that without the help, vigilance and creative efforts of Senator Richard Burr and his remarkable staff, we would not be sitting here today," Baldasare said. "Indeed, we would not be just weeks away from finally resolving our difference with our accrediting agency and the Department of Education through our creative partnership with Webber International University."
Burr shared his insights on the world with a special understanding of the journey of these students shaped by his own children.
"You are a generation of students different than my own," he said. "You have seen and experienced more in your life than any generation before you. The current bookends of your life so far began in 1989 with the wave of revolution sweeping Eastern Europe, heralding the fall of the Soviet Union.
"Then, over the last six months, we have seen the greatest realignment of the Middle East, and just six days ago the end of the greatest manhunt in history."
Burr acknowledged that while the generation is accustomed to change, it is still a time of uncertainty because of the economy and the changing world that could lead to some questioning over whether the pursuit of higher education had been worth it.
"Yes, your education at St. Andrews was worth it," he said. "This education has prepared you to compete in the world. With this completed degree, you are obligated to help find solutions to the challenges in the world to make it better for those who follow.
"I encourage you to carry on the legacy of those who helped you reach this day and think big to take on the responsibility to solve the problems of the day."
Elizabeth Scotch, of Carthage, senior class speaker from the St. Andrews at Sandhills program, echoed Burr's challenge to the class in her speech.
"Graduates, celebrate the day," she said. "Celebrate your achievements and certainly celebrate with those who have helped you accomplish them. But, come Monday morning, you better be open for business, because mankind is your business."
The Rev. Elizabeth McNair Ayscue provided the sermon for the baccalaureate service Friday evening.
"The baccalaureate is a religious service held at the completion of an undergraduate education," Baldasare said. "It is an occasion of inner faith reflection."
Ayscue delivered a sermon challenging students to lead the dance into the future.
"Today in the act of worship, we celebrate that you, the St. Andrews Presbyterian Class of 2011, are dancing into the future," Ayscue said. "You will do it differently. You are a different person than you were when you matriculated to St. Andrews. Your friends and experiences here have changed you. The ethos of this campus has been transformative.
"You have been these people, knowledgeable and imaginative servant-leaders. You can be a leader. You can lead others in the dance."
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