Graduating college and seminary students were honored at Erskine College Saturday, May 14, as their family members and friends gathered for a ceremony under the towers of the Erskine Building on the Due West campus.
This year’s commencement speaker was best-selling author Eric Metaxas, a commentator and radio show host. A graduate of Yale University, Metaxas hosts his own radio show and is founder and host of Socrates in the City: Conversations on the Examined Life, a series of discussions on “life, God, and other small topics.”
“God is nothing but good news for anyone daring to open their hearts and minds to him,” the speaker told the graduates. “If you give your life over to him, you only then begin to know what joy feels like, what meaning feels like, what purpose feels like.”
Some might say that students graduating from a Christian college “have this really difficult task of clinging to your rickety Christian faith out there in the real world,” but this defensive approach ought to be rejected. Either the Christian faith is true or it’s not, Metaxas declared. “If it’s true, it changes everything. If it’s true, it applies everywhere.”
Asserting that science increasingly supports belief in God and pointing to the problem of morality in the absence of God, he encouraged students who are Christians to live out their faith and said, “If you’re not a Christian, you should have the guts to look at it.”
Metaxas, who became a committed Christian a few years after his own college graduation, said he wrote Is Atheism Dead? to inform people about the evidence for God that “has been piling up” since the famous 1966 Time cover story “Is God Dead?” For example, if our planet were only slightly smaller or larger, it would not have the life-sustaining atmosphere we enjoy. “The more we know from science, the more we see evidence of design, evidence of fine-tuning that does not make sense if everything is just happening randomly,” he said.
“The more we learn from science, the less possible it becomes to believe the secular narrative that life emerged from non-life through natural random processes,” he said, adding, “It’s much easier to believe that Mount Rushmore was created by the wind than to believe that a single cell could just emerge randomly over time.”
Metaxas cited the fight against the slave trade in the 18th century as an illustration of the link between faith and morality. William Wilberforce realized that the Bible described all human beings as created in the image of God, and he knew that God was calling him to oppose slavery. Every Christian is called to a “magnificent adventure that God calls you to and made you for,” whether as a politician like Wilberforce or in another role.
“Walking with God…being part of the war against evil and brokenness and oppression in our generation is the most beautiful thing imaginable,” Metaxas said, “and to miss that is to miss the meaning of life and to miss the meaning of your life.”
Erskine President Dr. Steven Adamson welcomed the graduating seniors and their families and friends and recognized Board of Trustees Chair Michael S. Whitehurst and other board members present at the ceremony. Whitehurst addressed the graduates briefly, telling them that if they commit themselves to the Lord, they will be able to “live life to the fullest, love others deeply, and provide light in the world.”
The commencement speaker was introduced by the college senior with the highest grade point average, Mikhayla Clothier of Honea Path, a double major in Chemistry and Mathematics with a minor in English.
College awards announced during the commencement exercises by Vice President for Academic Administration Dr. J. Thomas Hellams included two faculty awards—the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Excellence in Teaching Award, given to McDonald-Boswell Assistant Professor of History Dr. John A.E. Harris, and the Younts Excellence in Teaching Award, given to Assistant Professor of History Dr. Corinne Gressang.
Student awards announced were the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, given to John Ethan Wise of Blacksburg, S.C., a summa cum laude graduate who majored in Psychology, receiving Departmental Honors; the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award, given to Kara Alexis Ridlehuber of Greenwood, S.C., a graduate who majored in Special Education; and the H.M. Young Ring, the highest honor for a member of the senior class, given to Mary Roberta Pratt of Alcolu, S.C., a cum laude graduate who completed a double major in Bible and Religion and History, with Departmental Honors in History.
Seminary awards for students included the Ray A. King Church History Award, given to William G. Shepherd of Asheville, N.C.; the Bruce G. Pierce Award for Christian Leadership, given to Reid Thayer of Lake Placid, Fla.; and the D. James Kennedy Institute Award for Missions, given to Paul Chung of Charlotte, N.C.
Serving as faculty marshals were Dr. Loyd D. Melton, crucifer, and Dr. N. Bradley Christie, mace bearer. The Rev. Joshua Chiles, chaplain, offered the invocation and Michael S. Whitehurst, chair of the Board of Trustees, gave the benediction.
The graduates were inducted into the Erskine Alumni Association by E. Phillip Cook ’92, president.
Roberto Monzalvo-Romero of Batesburg, S.C., president of the Erskine College Class of 2022, thanked Cook on behalf of the class and announced the class gift, a set of Adirondack chairs to be placed around the campus.
Dr. Elijah Ray of Woodruff, S.C., senior class representative of the Erskine Seminary Class of 2022, responded to Jordan on behalf of the seminary graduates.
Music for the event was provided by the Erskine College Choraleers, directed by Dr. Keith Timms and accompanied by Prof. Sharalyn Hicks, pianist, and Erskine College Sinfonia, conducted by Dr. Deborah Caldwell. Senior Sam Tam of Greenville, S.C., a magna cum laude graduate in Music Education, led the singing of the alma mater.
This year’s graduates are listed below.
Bachelor of Arts
Graduates, Jan. 7, 2022: Brandon Renard Lane, Winter Haven, Fla.; Chandler Woods Little, Easley, S.C.; Samuel Lewis Mullinax, Seneca, S.C.; Kathryn Dawn Torgerson, summa cum laude, Summerville, S.C.; Kaitlyn Elizabeth Trevathan, Roswell, Ga.; Faith Ann Wright, Columbia, Mo.
Graduates, May 14, 2022: Thomas William Goodwin, cum laude, Anderson, S.C.; Noah Michael Jordan, Lugoff, S.C.; Kaitlyn Helen McCort Gray Court, S.C.; Zachary Thomas Overholt, magna cum laude, Abbeville, S.C.; Mary Roberta Pratt, cum laude, Alcolu, S.C.; Julia Olivia Riddle, magna cum laude, Due West, S.C.; Jacob Maxwell Thomas, Waxhaw, N.C.; Kaile Makana’Aloha Tuisamatatele, Kapolei, Hawaii; John Ethan Wise, summa cum laude, Blacksburg, S.C.
Candidates, Aug. 22, 2022: Rodericus Jermaine Culver, North Augusta, S.C.; Roberto Uriel Monzalvo-Romero, Batesburg, S.C.
Bachelor of Science
Graduates, Jan. 7, 2022: Carl Matthew Brophy, Anderson, S.C.; Travis Nelson Campbell, West Columbia, S.C.; Mackenzie Kalyn Clark, Chapin, S.C.; Carson Joseph Green, Belton, S.C.; Jason Benjamin Harris, Camden, S.C.; Christopher Evan Tyler, Winchester, Tenn.
Graduates, May 14, 2022: Joshua Attlee Arrowood, cum laude, Arlington Heights, Ill.; Arnab Banerjee, summa cum laude, West Bengal, India; Alexa Barrios, Miami, Fla.; Kathleen Faith Belue, Gaffney, S.C.; Levi Micah Borton, Greer, S.C.; Kelci Elizabeth Brown, Barnwell, S.C.; Lance Adam Brownlee, summa cum laude, Saint George, S.C.; Rachel Holley Bullock, Laurens, S.C.; Samuel Rhodes Cable, Rock Hill, S.C.; Shi Anna Cain, Rockwell, N.C.; Mallory Rebecca Carter, Lake View, S.C.; Mikhayla Dawn Clothier, summa cum laude, Honea Path, S.C.; Ann Rose Conner, cum laude, Greenville, S.C.; Charles Martin Crouch III, Lexington, S.C.; Ryleigh Marie Davis, cum laude, Iva, S.C.; Jonathen James de Arago, Houston, Texas; Brenden Cullen Douglas, Columbia, S.C.; Kane Alexander Fisher, Campobello, S.C.; Faith Ann Flanagan, cum laude, St. Paul’s Station, Ontario, Canada.; Aiden Crandell Free, Ware Shoals, S.C.; Ellison Nicole Garren, Iva, S.C.; Deric Evan Hanko, Irmo, S.C.; Billy Nathaniel Jackson, Cassatt, S.C.; Griffin Daniel Jester, Honea Path, S.C.; Megan Noel Jones, Greer, S.C.; David Michael Kay, Williamston, S.C.; Weston S. Kerley, Hickory, S.C.; Taylor Brion McClinton, cum laude, Lowell, N.C.; Graham Denison McCurry, Summerville, S.C.; Sydney Jolie McInnis, magna cum laude, Hartsville, S.C.; Zachary Scott McLain, Gilbert, S.C.; Jane Ashley Meredith, cum laude, Swansea, S.C.; Joshua Wilson Mundy, Aiken, S.C.; Anna Katherine Parramore, cum laude, Athens, Ga.; Abigail Leah Parris, Greenwood, S.C.; Collyn David Richardson, West Columbia, S.C.; Kara Alexis Ridlehuber, Greenwood, S.C.; Allan David Saathoff, Ridgely, Md.; James Gregory Sanders, Jr., magna cum laude, Charleston, S.C.; Francisco Fayos Sena, Valencia, Spain; Marion Marquis Te’von Smalls, Beaufort, S.C,; Jacob Walker Smith, Anderson, S.C.; Samuel King Hang Tam, magna cum laude, Greenville, S.C.; Jacob Chandler Turner, Roebuck, S.C.; Joshua Quinton Cole Vigo, cum laude, Gavilan Hills, Calif.; Travis L. Walters, Jr., Loris, S.C.; Caroline Mae Woolard, Camden, S.C.
Candidates, Aug. 22, 2022: Sophia Grace Attaway, Fort Worth, Texas; Javian Samuel Bellamy, Irmo, S.C.; E’Mandi Emmanuel Brooks, Fort Mill, S.C.; Zachary Lamar Dawkins, Gastonia, N.C.; Vivian Nicole Gonzalez, Victoria, Texas; Amber Gray, Lithonia, Ga.; Tristan Benjamin Hartfield, Johnsonville, S.C.; Salvatore LoPiccolo IV, Centerburg, Ohio; La’Sauhn Mcfadden, Darlington, S.C.; Shamia Janee McKinney, Greenville, S.C.; Christopher James Miller, Spartanburg, S.C.; Seth E. Perez, The Villages, Fla.; Dorian Isaiah Robinson, Easley, S.C.; Samuel Patrick Woods, Murrells Inlet, S.C.; Mariah Renee Yoder, Fair Play, S.C.
Erskine Theological Seminary graduates were:
Master of Arts in Christian Counseling
Graduates, May 14, 2022: Molly McMinn Morgan, Greenville, S.C.; Mikayla Nicole Glenn, Clinton, S.C.
Master of Arts in Practical Ministry
Graduates, May 14, 2022: Frank Heinsohn, Fairfield, Va.; William Lamonte Moore, Cottageville, S.C.; Brian Scott Purcell, Greenwood, S.C.
Master of Arts in Theological Studies
Graduates, May 14, 2022: Thomas Edward Davis, Jr., Monroe, N.C.; Francis Gregory Delleney, Jr., Chester, S.C.; Alexander M. Kranda, Long Beach, Calif.; Faith Jacqueline Womack, Kingstree, S.C.
Candidates, Sept. 1, 2022: Jordan B. Morales, Milwaukee, Wis.; Emily Ross Woodard, Columbia, S.C.
Master of Divinity
Graduate, Jan. 1, 2022: John Alexander Pettett, Greenville, S.C.
Graduates, May 14, 2022: James Denton Brown, Lucasville, Ohio; Paul Chung, Charlotte, N.C.; Mark James Donald, Merritt Island, Fla.; Clara Martin Gary, Simpsonville, S.C.; Seth Odiorne Philbrick, Rye, N.H.; Letitia S. Pringle-Miller, Sumter, S.C.; Jose Arturo Lam Tuy, Panama City, Panama; Christopher James Williams, Augusta, Ga.;
Candidates, Sept. 1, 2022: Andrew George, Washington, D.C.; Shane Miller, Lake Wales, Fla.; Everard Taylor Reed, Asheville, N.C.
Doctor of Ministry
Graduate, Jan. 1, 2022: Luis German Carrion, Camuy, Puerto Rico
Graduates, May 14, 2022: Sherman W. Baker, Jr., Forrest City, Ark.; Glenvil Gregory, Columbia, S.C.; Richard Alan Kirby, Walhalla, S.C.; Michael Anthony Milton, Tryon, N.C.; John J. Murphy III, Fayetteville, N.C.; Elijah Ray, Woodruff, S.C.; Christopher Lynn Reeder, Memphis, Tenn.; Norris Van Rouse, Augusta, Ga.; Margo Wright Williams, Honea Path, S.C.
Candidates, Sept. 1, 2022: Robert Allen Cargel III, Dunedin, Fla.; Vincent Derwin Lamar Collins, Columbia, S.C.