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Erskine celebrates Class of 2018 at commencement ceremony


Erskine College and Theological Seminary recognized graduating students May 19 during a joint ceremony on the Erskine campus. This year’s speaker was Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a recognized leader among American evangelicals.

Dr. R. Albert Mohler

Mohler said people are often told, “Don’t just stand there—do something,” but stressed that it is essential to heed advice less frequently given: “Don’t just do something—stand there.”

Daria Watkins, graduating college senior with the highest grade point average

Emphasizing the importance of “standing where we ought to stand” and “standing where Jesus would have us stand,” both for individuals and for institutions, Mohler noted some ways in which education at a Christian institution is distinctive.

Academic disciplines are addressed from “the comprehensiveness of a Christian worldview” at Erskine and other Christian colleges, Mohler said. Citing early Christian theologian and philosopher Augustine of Hippo (354-430), he added that at Christian institutions the faculty’s approach to teaching is characterized by “love of the subject matter, love of students, and love of God.”

For the graduate of a Christian institution, then, the goal is never meant to be simply the obtaining of a job, but rather the following of a calling. “If you serve Christ, nothing you do will ever be lost,” Mohler said. “If you serve Christ, nothing you do will ever be in vain.”

Erskine President Dr. Robert E. Gustafson, Jr. welcomed family members and guests and Samuel S. James ’07, chairman, brought greetings from the Erskine Board of Trustees.

The commencement speaker was introduced by the college senior with the highest grade point average, summa cum laude graduate Daria Elizabeth Watkins of Fort Mill, S.C., who completed a major in chemistry and minors in biology and healthcare management.

Erskine trustee Dr. Tom Hellams, Prospect, Ky., who serves as vice president for denominational relations and chief of staff in the Office of the President at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, added to the introduction of the speaker based on his experience of Mohler as a “great leader” and “a godly man.”

Rebecca Reiter receives Mary Mildred Sullivan Award.

College awards announced during the commencement exercises by Provost of the College Dr. John Basie included the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Excellence in Teaching Award, given to Assistant Professor of English Dr. Christine Schott; the Younts Excellence in Teaching Award, given to Professor of History Dr. David Grier; the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, given to Justin Ray Shelton of Owenton, Ky., a double major in psychology and political science; the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award, given to Rebecca Ruth Reiter of Anderson, S.C., a summa cum laude graduate in chemistry with minors in chemistry, psychology, and Spanish; and the H.M. Young Ring, the highest honor for a member of the senior class, given to Molly Wilkes Graham of Mt. Juliet, Tenn., a summa cum laude graduate who completed a double major in political science and psychology.

Brandon Terry receives Bruce G. Pierce Award.

Seminary awards announced by Provost of the Seminary Dr. R. Leslie Holmes included the Zondervan Publishing House Awards, given to Kyle Keesling in Biblical Greek, Russell Harless in Biblical Hebrew, and Dr. Robert Elsner in Theology; the Douglas Joel Culver Award in Hebrew, given to Rodney A. Johnson; the Ray A. King Church History Award, given to Timothy Northcutt; and the Bruce G. Pierce Award for Christian Leadership, given to Brandon Terry. The Erskine Seminary Presidential Scholarship was awarded to Kyle Keesling, a graduating senior at Erskine College.

Serving as faculty marshals were Dr. Loyd Melton, crucifer, and Dr. Howard Thomas, mace bearer. The Rev. Paul Patrick, chaplain, offered the invocation and benediction.

Angela Grooms ’77, president of the Alumni Association, inducted the graduates into the association.

Dominique Choe of Columbia, S.C., president of the Erskine College Class of 2018, thanked Grooms on behalf of the class and announced planned memorials on campus for deceased classmates Daniel Arnold and Blake Holliday.

Brandon Terry, senior class representative of the Erskine Seminary Class of 2018, responded to Grooms on behalf of seminary graduates.

The Erskine College Choraleers, directed by Dr. Keith Timms, with Prof. Hannah Timms serving as soloist and accompanied by pianist Tobi Otekayi and the Scibelli String Quintet, offered special music. The Quintet also offered special music. Erskine College Sinfonia, conducted by Prof. Kory Vrieze, played processional and recessional music. Graduating senior Lydia Clarke led the singing of the alma mater.

Usually held outdoors under the towers of the Erskine Building, the commencement ceremony was held in Galloway Gymnasium owing to rainy weather during the preceding week.

Erskine College graduates were: 

Bachelor of Arts

Graduate, Jan. 26, 2018: Justin Keith McCurry, Abbeville, S.C.

Graduates, May 19, 2018: David Bates, Laurens, S.C.; Mia Shyanne Blochaviak, Taylorsville, N.C.; Dominique Ji-Young Choe, Columbia, S.C.; James Hunter Covington, Rock Hill, S.C.; Samuel Francis Elsner, Due West, S.C.; Mary Caroline Giles, West Columbia, S.C.; Molly Wilkes Graham, summa cum laude, Mt. Juliet, Tenn.; Autumn Elizabeth Harris, Beaufort, S.C.; Brooke Elisabeth Johnson, summa cum laude, Summerville, S.C.; Kyle Jay Keesling, Jr., Greenville, S.C.; Crawford Alan Krebs, Columbia, S.C.; Lindsey Carson Holman Krebs, Laurens, S.C.; William Clemson McGee, Donalds, S.C.; Connor Brown Miller, Greenville, S.C.; Kathryn Mary Rodriguez, Hughesville, Pa.; Justin Ray Shelton, Owenton, Ky.; Dareisha Hay’Yonna Sowell, Kershaw, S.C.; Sarah Jeanne Vermazen, cum laude, Davis, Calif.

Candidate, Aug. 15, 2018: Bethany Gale Rezac, Aiken, S.C.

Bachelor of Science

Graduates, Jan. 26, 2018: Omar Amer AlQuzah, Summerville, S.C.; Martin Arias, Valladolid, Spain; Sarah Elizabeth Curfman, Columbia, S.C.; Alfred Jon Fabrizio, Palm City, Fla.; Henry Selby Faunce IV, Swan Point, Md.; Yonelvin Gutierrez, Greenville, S.C.; Joshua William Heafield, Barnstaple, England; Danica Elizabeth Newton, Mt. Pleasant, S.C.; Rodney Jerome O’Neal, Dublin, Ga.; Allison Margaret Taylor, Greenwood, S.C.; Rebecca Elaine Weaver, summa cum laude, Lake City, S.C.

Graduates, May 19, 2018: Sarah Renee Ashbrook, summa cum laude, El Centro, Calif.; Katie Anne Blitch, Charleston, S.C.; Samantha Andrea Bolaños Melgar, Arequipa, Peru; Zachary Bowens, magna cum laude, Winnsboro, S.C.; Julie Lynn Butler, summa cum laude, Bradley, S.C.; Bryan Joel Cardozo, Lawrenceville, Ga.; Giacomo Cavadini, magna cum laude, Verzago, Italy; Lydia Cothran Clarke, Due West, S.C.; Christina Inez Coltrane, cum laude, Liberty, N.C.; Lauren Grace Cowley, Simpsonville, S.C.; Chandler Lee Crawford, Williamston, S.C.; Brannon Christopher Dark, Simpsonville, S.C.; Grant Watson Dickey, Ninety Six, S.C.; Susan Brooks Durden, cum laude, Columbia, S.C.; Maddison Elaine English, Greer, S.C.; Ashley Marie Espinosa, Reading Pa.; Taylor Michael Ferguson, Moore, S.C.; Melissa Virginia Foster, Charleston, S.C.; Edoardo Gullino, summa cum laude, Cuneo, Italy; Sara Opal Guyton, Rock Hill, S.C.; Nytoria Sherana Jeter, Winnsboro, S.C.; Ian Hutchinson Kimbrell, Spartanburg, S.C.; Rachel Marie Lloyd, summa cum laude, Chappells, S.C.; Mark Daniel Malone, Anderson, S.C.; Jamia Tyree Mattress, Anderson, S.C.; Rachel Love McGill, Columbia, S.C.; Bernard Patrick McShane, Anderson, S.C.; Megan Elizabeth Moore, magna cum laude, Sumter, S.C. Mercedes D’Aesha Ruth Myers, Irmo, S.C.; Pedro Esteban Negrete Narváez, Quito, Ecuador; Thomas Francis Nolan, Columbus, Ohio; Zackery Steven Norris, Gastonia, N.C.; Rebecca Ruth Reiter, summa cum laude, Anderson, S.C.; Brittany Faith Reynolds, Seneca, S.C.; Brittany Ann Rhinehardt, Clover, S.C.; Brooke Elizabeth Rhinehardt, Clover, S.C.; Kristin Ashley Richey, summa cum laude, Anderson, S.C.; John Walker Riley, Summerville, S.C.; Alexis Donna Samples, summa cum laude, Moncks Corner, S.C.; Luke Forrest Samson, Mundelein, Ill.; Evan Tristram Schwartz, Summerville, S.C; Jessica Ann Segars, Greenville, S.C.; Raven McKenzie Smith, Irmo, S.C.; Sydney Lauren Smith, Seneca, S.C.; Wesley Eugene Smith, Norwood, N.C.; Allison Louise Sorrenson, Summerville, S.C.; Jillian Lila Sprague, Charlotte, N.C.; Kayla Taylor Squiggins, Clover, S.C.; Ollie Or’Jouous Steadman, Savannah, Ga.; Alysha Moneé Tabb, McCormick, S.C.; Lucas Alexander Terry, Anderson, S.C.; Justin Matthew Van Riper, Rome, Ga.; Hope Maxie Walker, Columbia, S.C.; Breanna Rae Warren, Taylors, S.C.; Destiny Chonté Warren, Greenville, S.C.; Daria Elizabeth Watkins, summa cum laude, Fort Mill, S.C.; Brandon Darone Wilkerson, Summerville, S.C.; Rachel Megan Wittig, Fayetteville, N.C

Candidates, Aug. 15, 2018: Shomari Ashur Anthony Ballantyne, Atlanta, Ga.; Chaz Michael Davey, North Augusta, S.C.; Cody Scott Edkins, Rock Hill, S.C.; Parker John Helgerson, Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Fineto Andy Lungwana, Roswell, Ga.; Joshua Benjamin Matos, Mint Hill, N.C.; Elizabeth Joy McKenzie, Blythewood, S.C.; Shelby Lynn Shultz, Sellersburg, Ind.; Corey Hunter Sox, Swansea, N.C.

Erskine Theological Seminary graduates were:

Master of Arts in Practical Ministry

Graduate, May 19, 2018: Godwin O. Agbo, Lagos, Nigeria

Candidate, Sept. 1, 2018: Shirley Wigfall Pinckney, Cross, S.C.


Master of Arts in Theological Studies

Graduates, Jan. 1, 2018: James Arnold Brown, Jr., Leicester, N.C.; Luke Davis Niday, Augusta, Ga.

Graduate, May 19, 2018: John H. Famer III, Marietta, Ga.

Candidates, Sept. 1, 2018: Meredith Lee Myers, Marietta, Ga.; Timothy Travis Northcutt, Greenville, S.C.


Master of Divinity

Graduates, Jan. 1, 2018: Gervis Bernard Davis, Newberry, S.C.; Samuel D. Johnson, Sr., Charleston, S.C.; Pamela Javette Queeman, Summerville, S.C.

Graduates, May 19, 2018: Donna Jean Beach, Fort Mill, S.C.; Matthew Jordan Bernard, Rock Hill, S.C.; Robert James Francis Elsner, Due West, S.C.; George E. Hicks, Orangeburg, S.C.; David Jennings Hughes, Pickens, S.C.; Don Robinson, Sr., McBee, S.C.; Abraham Temoney, Jr., Sumter, S.C.; Brandon Meion Terry, Gainesville, Ga.

Candidates, Sept. 1, 2018: Taylor McNeil Dubose, Sumter, S.C.; Luke Andrew Grigsby, Greenville, S.C.; Chandler Jones Machemehl, Johns Creek, Ga.; Charles R. Miles, Holly Hill, S.C.; Seth R. Skogen, Lookout Mountain, Ga.


Master of Theology

Graduate, May 19, 2018: Brett James Blackman, Winter Park, Fla.

Doctor of Ministry

Graduate, Jan. 1, 2018: Richard Baldwin Brown, Roanoke, Va.

Graduates, May 19, 2018: Ryan V. McKinnon, Rising Sun, Md.; Derek D. Mosher, Clarks Summit, Pa.; Ralph L. Britton Price, Piqua, Ohio; Charles Scott Williams, Orlando, Fla.

Candidates, Sept. 1, 2018: William Hayden Anderson, Lilburn, Ga.; Luis G. Carrion, Camuy, Puerto Rico; Asher Salmon Din, Punjab, Pakistan; Jesse Warren Hunt, Boone, N.C.; David A. Thompson, Converse, Texas; Paul Anthony Villano, Columbia, S.C.







Erskine and Due West Skyline

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Erskine College admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.

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