The 244 Georgetown College seniors who will walk at Commencement 2011 on May 14 will witness a historic moment for not only their alma mater – but also for alumni of the former black Baptist institution in Texas known as Bishop College.
Three of the graduating seniors – David Boyle Jr. of Memphis, and Ralpheal West of Houston, both legacies; and the latter’s cousin, Jarmar Smith of Houston – are the Bishop Scholar “pioneers.” They were part of that historic partnership forged on Opening Convocation 2007 when GC “adopted” the alumni of Bishop, a college that had to close its doors 20 years before due to financial problems.
The Baccalaureate service at 7:30 p.m., Friday (May 13) has special meaning because Dr. Ralph Douglas West happens to be Ralpheal’s father and Jarmar’s uncle. The founder and senior pastor of The Church Without Walls (Houston’s Brookhollow Baptist Church), Rev. West embraces 16,000-plus families meeting in three locations and at six services each Sunday.
Dr. West completed degrees at Bishop College, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Beeson Divinity School, where he received the Doctor of Ministry Degree. He serves as Adjunct Professor of Preaching at the George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University.
The speaker for the commencement exercises at 10 a.m., Saturday (May 14) on Giddings Lawn is also used to impacting thousands of people in his charge. Lieutenant General Benjamin C. Freakley has led the U.S. Army Accessions Command (AAC), Fort Monroe, Virginia since 2007. AAC consists of U.S. Army Recruiting Command, Fort Knox, KY; U.S. Army Cadet Command, Ft. Monroe, VA; and the U.S. Army Training Center, Fort Jackson, SC.
A 1975 graduate of the U.S Military Academy, General Freakley served as an officer in both Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, he served as assistant division commander (operations). He has received a number of significant military awards and decorations including the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal and Army Commendation Medal.
Rev. West and General Freakley will be helping to send fewer than 250 young men and women out into the world, but their words on commencement weekend may be some of their most memorable.