by Web on May 15, 2018
May 5 was a meaningful, memorable morning for the Class of 2018 graduates during Commencement at Christ United Methodist Church. Rain moved the ceremony from the Bowl, which is the traditional site on campus, to the church where student achievement was celebrated.
The College conferred 191 undergraduate degrees and 40 graduate degrees. Honorary degrees were presented to:
Noah Barbieri of Belden, Miss., who will attend Oxford University in England this fall as the second Rhodes Scholar from Millsaps in the last three years, received the Founders’ Medal and addressed the audience. The medal is presented to the graduating senior who has the highest grade point average for the entire course of study completed at Millsaps College and a grade of Excellent on comprehensive examinations.
“Millsaps has given many of us the voice, tools, and has set us upon a path to make a difference,” said Barbieri, who addressed the audience. “As an example, Millsaps has taken me, a boy from rural Mississippi, a boy who has dreamed for as long as I can remember of making a difference in this world and opened the entire world to me. I had big dreams coming to Millsaps, but never could I have imagined being chosen as both a Truman and a Rhodes Scholar, and being on track to do a master’s in economics at the University of Oxford before pursuing a Ph.D. at MIT and a law degree from Harvard. I will forever be indebted to this magical place and each of you for holding me to my dreams.”
Kendall Hardy of San Antonio, Texas, was recognized as the recipient of the Frank and Rachel Anne Laney Award winner. The Laney Award is given to the graduating senior who has written the finest essay reflecting the value of a Millsaps liberal arts education.
Dr. Keith Dunn, provost and dean of the College, read an excerpt from Hardy’s essay: “The time preceding graduation is inevitably both confusing and exciting. I am thankful to have been studying the lasting words of thinkers from our past to guide me through the decisions I faced. While considering my options, Plato’s "Apology" and "Crito" continued to resonate with me. I have grown as a student and a citizen in conjunction with each other because of what this community, city, and state have given me….In “An American Marriage,” Tayari Jones writes, 'home is not where you land, it’s where you launch.' I have somehow landed here, in Jackson, MS, and this community has set me up to launch in any direction I choose. I am choosing to take what I have learned and am promising to return it to the community that has grown me. That is what it means to be a student, and a citizen.”
Mariah Jane Gibson, B.A. 2017, of Clinton, N.Y., recognized with the Charles Sewell Award as the Outstanding Master of Business Administration graduate, advised graduates: “Don’t do anything in life because it makes sense. Do it because you know it is right. Practicality deals in safeness and guarantees, which life is apt to destroy. Dreams take a lifetime to fulfill, a lifetime of striving and hoping and believing in your own power to overcome the more realistic, attainable, and safe plots of life. You must dare from within.”
Tanner Menist, B.B.A. 2017, of Jackson was recognized as the Outstanding Master of Accountancy Graduate. Anna Lynn Sit of West Monroe, La., earned the Don Fortenberry Award, which recognizes the graduating senior who has demonstrated the most notable, meritorious, diligent, and devoted service to Millsaps with no expectation of recognition, reward, or public remembrance.
Brent Hendrixson, associate professor of biology at Millsaps, received the Distinguished Professor Award. He earned his B.A. from the University of Northern Colorado, his M.S. from West Texas A&M University and his doctorate from East Carolina University.
Dr. Robert C. Pearigen, president of Millsaps, encouraged graduates to hold closely their membership in the Millsaps family and consider the ways they would apply and translate Millsaps’ values to their life and work.
“As you well know, Millsaps matters,” he said. “It matters to this city, this state, the nation, and the world. I look forward to seeing the ways that you, as graduates, will reflect, embody, and extend Millsaps’ influence and legacy ‘across the street and around the globe.’”