Saint Paul’s College graduates urged to “step out on faith”
- Trail-blazing jurist speaks at SPC Commencement exercises
- Visionary leaders honored for community service
(LAWRENCEVILLE, Va.) – United States Appeals Judge, the Honorable Roger L. Gregory encouraged graduates at Saint Paul’s College to make their mark on the world and never to make peace with injustice. “Don’t wait for everything to be perfect in your life before you begin your journey toward success,” said Judge Gregory. “You must step out on faith. It’s when times are difficult that you find your true course in life.”
Gregory, the first African American to hold a seat on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, was featured speaker when Saint Paul’s College held its 124th Baccalaureate and Commencement exercises at its Lawrenceville, Va. campus on Sunday, May 13, 2012.
Said Gregory, “It is not always easy to speak the truth, but it is always redemptive. Like Prometheus—you must share the fire of your commitment, passion and service with the world. If you are willing to toil to make this great contribution, then perhaps when Saint Paul’s College has lasted for a thousand years, it will be said that this was her finest class!”
The Commencement exercises took place at Saint Paul’s Library Lawn. Bachelor’s Degrees were conferred on 77 students. Eight members of the Class of 2012 graduated Magna Cum Laude. Each graduate received an inaugural Saint Paul’s Challenge Coin presented by Saint Paul’s Trustee, Capt. (Ret.) William E. Bailey, on behalf of President Moore. Challenge Coins are commemorative medallions typically used to identify an affiliation, mark an accomplishment, or build morale. The challenge coin tradition has roots in the U.S. armed forces. According to one popular legend, the tradition began when a World War I escaped prisoner of war used a challenge coin to prove his identity. The practice of giving challenge coins grew in popularity during the Vietnam War, and today it extends beyond the military and includes law enforcement agencies, schools, government offices, and civic groups. During his years at Virginia State University, President Moore, a Vietnam veteran, presented challenge coins to graduates of the ROTC program. In honor of his first Saint Paul’s College commencement, President Moore begins a new challenge coin tradition, one including each member of the class of 2012. One side of the newly created Saint Paul’s College challenge coin is imprinted with the college seal. The other side bears the inscription “Presented by Eddie N. Moore, Jr., President.”
Earning a degree in Political Science with Minors in History and Social Science, Marilyn Melita Ruth Edmunds was class Valedictorian. Lauren Ashley Neal, earning her degree in English, was Salutatorian. Both graduated Magna Cum Laude.
At the ceremonies, Dr. Oliver W. Spencer, Jr., Chairman of the Saint Paul’s College Board of Trustees announced that the board had proclaimed Eddie N. Moore, Jr. as the 10th President of Saint Paul’s College. President & CEO Eddie N. Moore, Jr., has served as SPC’s CEO and Interim President since last November. The Board of Trustees also conferred the title of President Emeritus upon Dr. Robert L. Satcher, Sr., who preceded Moore.
Saint Paul’s alumnus The Rev. Canon John T.W. Harmon spoke at Baccalaureate ceremonies in honor of the graduating class. Canon Harmon, rector at Trinity Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. has strong ties to Virginia.
“Father Harmon’s presence and message were truly inspirational,” said Moore. “He spoke to all of us when he said that service to others is the true source of success in life.”
In addition to conferring Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degrees to Judge Gregory and Canon Harmon, Moore conferred the degrees to the following persons for their leadership and community service:
- Professional basketball star Bryant Stith, who returned to his native Brunswick County after a stellar career in the NBA to empower students and families in Southside Virginia and to serve as Athletic Director and Varsity Basketball Coach at Brunswick County High School.
- Xavier R. Richardson, Executive VP of Corporate Development and Community Affairs for Mary Washington Healthcare and President of Mary Washington Hospital and Stafford Hospital Foundations. His energy and dedication have improved the quality of life for many in the Fredericksburg area. Richardson founded and directs the Partnership for Academic Excellence, a program that has prepared thousands of students for success in higher education.
- Virginia philanthropist Jane Parke Batten, who, with her late husband Frank Batten, Sr., generously supported numerous educational and cultural programs. Mrs. Batten has provided vital support for Saint Paul’s Single Parent Support System and continues her leading efforts in support of SPC’s “Now & Forever” campaign.
“The world is a better place because of the vision and support that these individuals have offered,” said Moore. “I can think of no better example of leadership to illuminate the path ahead for this year’s proud graduates at Saint Paul’s College.”
About Saint Paul’s College: Founded in 1888 and affiliated with the Episcopal Church, Saint Paul’s College is a private, historically black, accredited, four-year coeducational and culturally diverse liberal arts institution of higher learning located in the rolling hills of Brunswick County in Southern Virginia. Saint Paul’s offers baccalaureate degrees in the arts and sciences, teacher education endorsements, pre-professional programs, and the only Single Parent Support System initiative for degree-seeking single parents in Virginia. Saint Paul’s offers an accelerated degree program for working adults in four locations across Virginia including Richmond, Farmville, Franklin, and on Saint Paul’s Lawrenceville campus. Learn more at www.saintpauls.edu.