Jim Durham
News Bureau Director

 DSC8464 A Memorable Commencement Weekend
An empowered Senior Speaker Ciera Mills gives thumbs up

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Class President Holli Patton stuns all with big Senior Gift

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Dr. Crouch gives Chelsey Reid the President’s Honor Award

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Brittnee Harris, the first Deborah Courage Award winner, mother Brenda (in red), extended family, and beloved service dog Bartlett

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Dr. Macy Wyatt, center, receives honorary doctorate from Provost Rosemary Allen and President Crouch

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Dr. Doug Griggs, center, receives the Cawthorne Award from Drs. Allen and Crouch

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First Bishop Scholar graduate Stella Brown, who also studied at Oxford, England

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Ashley Hashampour, our first Global Scholar graduate, with President Crouch

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The radiant Class of 1960 returnees pose at the Ensor LRC

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Jon Elrod with parents Rick and Judy, both ’82, at the inspiring memorial for son Stephen ‘07

May 14-15, 2010

How Commencement 2010 will be remembered is certainly in the eyes of the beholders. Sunshine and temps in the 70s contributed mightily to this memorable gathering of 242 graduating seniors, friends and family.

Here are just a few Moments that deserve to become Memories:

“Only the Class of 2010 would remember how we came in with the Rec and left with the Bush.”

That’s how the one-and-only Ciera Mills (yes, our ’09 Homecoming queen and perennial Songfest skit comedienne for Phi Mu) opened to laughs and got her classmates’ attention as Senior Speaker. You can read the whole, memorable speech here. But, only those of us who were there will know just where the untimely power outages occurred – and how brilliantly, and patently goofy she handled the interruptions. Those who know and love Ciera will always remember the “thumbs up” here – but, also as a sign of Tiger Pride that President Bill Crouch encouraged from Day One of this school year.

Maybe we should have seen the signs from a sold-out Senior Banquet the night before. But, Senior Class President Holli Patton’s announcement was a stunner. The Class of 2010 not only produced the largest Senior Gift ever, they also more than doubled the previous record-holder –  $12,200 that will go toward scholarships.

Patton said she and class officers Brittany Anderson, Morgan Faulkner and Megan Bagwell were determined from the beginning of spring semester to beat the Class of ’09. They used the mantra: “You haven’t seen it (the $100 deposit) in four years, so you’re not going to miss it now.” “It worked!,” exclaimed the Olive Hill native, who will teach secondary special education in inner city Atlanta for Americorps this fall.

Dr. Crouch gave out two awards that honored graduating students who have shown extraordinary courage and perseverance.

A surprised and humbled Chelsey Reid received the President’s Honor Award and later would deflect attention to the many students who have to overcome serious challenges. The History major/Art History minor also gave a shout-out for “the limitless kindness and enduring patience of my GC professors” – especially as she navigated a tough Spring of ’09.

The Crestwood native had already lost her father prior to her sophomore year; then, right before taking an on awesome Smithsonian Internship, Chelsey learned of a personal illness she’d have to overcome. You’ll be uplifted to know Chelsey had that great experience at the National Museum of American History curatorial assistant in the Graphic Arts department. And, the former Equine Scholar will be assuming the Marketing Director & Public Relations responsibilities for The Pyramid Society later this summer at the Kentucky Horse Park. Then, this fall she’ll do post-graduate internship work in our Jacobs Collection and the college’s permanent art collection.

Brittnee Harris, who has had muscular dystrophy since age 4, then received the first (and not necessarily annual) Deborah Courage Award. This award is to further honor President Crouch’s late sister –Deborah Crouch McKeithan, who was diagnosed with cerebral multiple sclerosis at the age of 18. Later McKeithan would found and be president of Learning How Inc., a national advocacy organization for the needs of the disabled. The Deborah Lecture Series is also in her name.

Harris would have “walked” at last year’s commencement, she said, but the service dog she had waited three years for had his graduation from training the same day. So, she simply took another year of classes, driving her van from Frankfort – all the while dealing with multiple setbacks including a collapsed lung, heart failure and a pacemaker implanted.

Proudly, Brittnee pointed out, she carried a full load and never had to drop a class – but, thanked her wonderful professors for their empathy and support. The Psychology major/Women’s Studies minor has applied for a counseling position at Kentucky State University.

And, what a portrait this was – Brittnee with mother, Brenda Harris (an ER nurse at Georgetown Community Hospital), extended family and her beloved “Gentle Giant” Bartlett – a lab golden retriever mix – with her diploma in his mouth!

Two very popular GC professors – one former, one current – were honored next. Dr. Macy Wyatt, former chairman of the College’s Psychology Department and the outgoing president of the Woman’s Association of Georgetown College, was awarded an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters. A Georgetown resident, Macy’s recently been in the spotlight as co-author of Ghosts of the Bluegrass.

And, Dr. Douglas Griggs received the prestigious Don and Chris Cawthorne Award for Excellence in Teaching. Expect to hear more on this popular Education professor prior to his delivering the annual Cawthorne Lecture in the next school year.

Perhaps going unnoticed to the audience, but not to those involved in two relatively new, but significant programs, were the graduations of our first Bishop Scholar, Stella Brown, and our first Global Scholar, Ashley Hashampour. Both are planning on graduate school; stay tuned to see what lucky institution has a part in their success stories.

Stella of San Leandro, CA, transferred here in part for the opportunity to study at our University of Oxford partner, Regent’s Park College. Being the “first” was so important to the many alumni of Bishop – the historically black college in Dallas that went out of business 20 years ago and was “adopted” by GC – that her graduation rated a story Wednesday in the Dallas Morning News.

Ashley of Virginia Beach, VA, came here in 2007 as our “pioneer” for the non-academic Global Scholars Program – now a Program of Distinction that had a number of valuable “architects,” including Dr. John Stempel of the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School of Diplomacy, a GC trustee, and former Gov. Martha Layne Collins, our Executive-Scholar-in-Residence and Chairman of Kentucky’s World Trade Center. Then, while Ashley – a Political Science major/Security Studies minor – was taking only three years to graduate cum laude, her father, Reza ’83, became a GC trustee.

Earlier, the Class of 1960 had a semi-private “moment” at breakfast Saturday when they recognized the lives of departed classmates Dick and Karen Ward. The couple died in a tragic car accident last winter; recently, a wing in the Ensor LRC was dedicated in their names.

Another poignant moment took place after most had left campus for family celebrations. GC basketball player Jon Elrod and his parents, Rick and Judy, visited on their way out the lovely memorial site dedicated to older son Stephen who died in a tragic car accident last year. A semi-private ceremony took place this past Friday afternoon with a number of readings or comments by people like President Crouch, Coach Happy Osborne, former teammate Mark Surgalski, professors Tom Cooper, Nancy Lumpkin and Scott Takacs, and pastors Larry Travis and Robert M. Fox, Jr.

Rick, Judy and Jon Elrod – once again admiring the angelic bronze sculpture created by artist Amanda Matthews – said Saturday, they look forward to future GC Tiger basketball and volleyball fans or users of the George H.W. Bush Center for Fitness seeing the Stephen D. Elrod Memorial and reflecting on a life lived well, but taken too soon.