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Erskine recognizes 2024 graduates

Neal Blank, winner of the H.M. Young Ring, the highest award given to an Erskine College senior, with Dr. Steve Adamson
Neal Blank, winner of the H.M. Young Ring, the highest award given to an Erskine College senior, with Dr. Steve Adamson

Erskine honored its college and seminary graduates May 4, welcoming Dr. Carol M. Swain (pictured above at podium) as commencement speaker. “Graduation means that you will be stepping into the unknown,” Swain said. “You should expect challenges and disappointments, sprinkled with pleasant surprises and unexpected victories.”

Swain said she never expected to embark on an academic career and calls herself “the accidental professor.” She retired in 2017 as Professor of Political Science and Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University. Prior to her work at Vanderbilt, she served on the faculty of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University (now the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs). She is a blogger, podcast host, public speaker, media commentator, and the author of nearly a dozen books, including The Adversity of Diversity, Countercultural Living, and Black Eye for America.

Growing up in poverty, Swain dropped out of school and earned her undergraduate degree as well as advanced degrees after she had become a mother. “Each of us has a call on our life. You should always remember that,” she said.

“I can attest to the fact that life will take you in unexpected directions,” Swain told her audience, but she emphasized that trust in God is of first importance. “God takes you in unexpected directions. He wants us to live our lives with boldness and courage.”

John Paul Bell, Jr., winner of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award
John Paul Bell, Jr., winner of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

Swain, who experienced a Christian conversion in her forties, said that God “knows our fears about the future.” In her own life, she said, “many of the things that seemed like missed opportunities”—jobs she applied for but did not secure, her unfulfilled desire to become a nurse—worked for her good.

Lamenting that “We have become a nation of covenant breakers who are no longer willing to keep commitments,” Swain told the students, “We must strive to keep our commitments to one another,” and asked, “Is your word your bond?”

Swain challenged the members of the graduating class to stand up for Jesus Christ, who is revealed in scripture. “Stand up and become godly leaders who can help bring revival to our nation,” she said. “Now get your degree and go in peace.”

College awards announced during the commencement exercises by Dean of the College D. Shane Bradley included the Younts Excellence in Teaching Award, given to Associate Professor of English Dr. Christine Schott.

Sharon Lee George, winner of the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award
Sharon Lee George, winner of the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award

Student awards announced by the dean were the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, given to John Paul Bell, Jr. of Due West, S.C., a summa cum laude graduate who completed a double major in Chemistry and Mathematics with Departmental Honors in Chemistry and a minor in Physics; the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award, given to summa cum laude graduate Sharon Lee George of Spartanburg, S.C., who completed a triple major in History, Psychology, and Bible and Religion, receiving Departmental Honors in all three majors; and the H.M. Young Ring, the highest honor for a member of the senior class, given to Neal Richard Blank of Camden, S.C., a summa cum laude graduate who completed a double major in Psychology and History, with Departmental Honors in Psychology and a minor in Biology.

Two members of the Erskine College Class of 2024 tied for highest academic average—triple major and Sullivan Award winner Sharon Lee George and Benjamin Clifford Headley of Moreland, Ga., who completed a double major in Bible and Religion and English with Departmental Honors in English and a minor in Information Technology.

Seminary awards were announced by Dean of the Seminary Dr. Seth Nelson. The Bruce G. Pierce Award for Christian Leadership was given to Scott Hultstrand of Houston, Texas, a Master of Divinity degree recipient. The dean also recognized Dr. Loyd D. Melton, whose retirement as John Montgomery Bell Professor of New Testament was announced in February. Melton has been named Distinguished Professor of New Testament Emeritus and will continue to serve the seminary in a part-time capacity.

Erskine President Dr. Steve Adamson introduced the commencement speaker, and Board of Trustees Chairman Michael S. Whitehurst greeted the assembled students, faculty members, and guests.

Scott Hultstrand, a Master of Divinity graduate, received the Bruce G. Pierce Award for Christian Leadership.
 Master of Divinity graduate Scott Hultstrand received the Bruce G. Pierce Award for Christian Leadership.

Serving as faculty marshals were Dr. George Schwab, crucifer, and Dr. William B. Evans, mace bearer. The Rev. Joshua C. Chiles, chaplain, offered the invocation and Dean of the Seminary Dr. Seth J. Nelson gave the benediction.

The graduates were inducted into the Erskine Alumni Association by Dr. Sanita Cousar ’77, president, who also announced the senior class gift—two bench swings to be placed near the student recreational volleyball court on campus. Student contributions will also be used for enhancements to the court.

Each graduating student wore a “Stole of Gratitude” during the commencement ceremony. The graduates were urged to give the stole to a family member or to another person who offered them support and encouragement during their college years.

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, led by Professor Jon Michael Brock, conductor. James Alexander Thomas, a graduating music major with a minor in biology, led the singing of the alma mater.

See more Commencement 2024 photos HERE.

This year’s graduates are listed below:

Bachelor of Arts

Benjamin Clifford Headley, left, tied with Sharon George for highest average. He received Departmental Honors in English and is shown at the senior dinner with Associate Professor of English Dr. Christine Schott, winner of this year’s Younts Excellence in Teaching Award.

Graduates, Jan. 11, 2024: Harrison Graham Bernard, Weddington, N.C.; Christen Hope Jordan, Lexington, S.C.; Thomas Simon LaFrancis, Blacksburg, S.C.; Ashley Elizabeth Owens, Williamston, S.C.; Katelyn Marie Suttles, Gray Court, S.C.; DuJwan R. Washington, New Orleans, La.

Graduates, May 4, 2024: Bennett O’Connor Caldwell, Camden, S.C.; Zion Christian Clonts, Powder Springs, Ga.; Marta DeZanger, cum laude, Barcelona, Spain; Morgan Ashleigh Dutton, Anderson, S.C.; Kenzie Jo Eagleman, Sylva, N.C.; Vernon Andrew Gaines, cum laude, Ware Shoals, S.C.; Sharon Lee George, summa cum laude, Spartanburg, S.C.; Benjamin Clifford Headley, summa cum laude, Moreland, Ga.; Bradley Michael Kirby-Brisley, Summerville, S.C.; Robert Lewis, Sumter, S.C.; Sarah Katherine McCombs, Omaha, Neb.; Quinlin Isiah Melton, Columbia, S.C.; Fatima Kristina Santiago Paes Leme, Brasilia-Distrito Federal.; Hannah Grace Patterson, Greenwood, S.C.; Jenkins Van Peeler, cum laude, Due West, S.C.; Madelyn Marie Rogers, cum laude, Greenville, S.C.; Dylan Michael Shiflett, Six Mile, S.C.; James Alexander Thomas, Lexington, S.C.; Katherine Elizabeth Thompson, Woodruff, S.C.; Luize Valtere, Riga, Latvia; David Steven Wilkie, summa cum laude, Clinton, S.C.; Evan Jakob Zizek, Nobleton, Ontario, Canada

Candidates, Aug. 14, 2024: Natalie Grace Gable, Abbeville, S.C.; Tyra Ktoria Sulllivan, Greenwood, S.C.; William Jacob Vinson, Ware Shoals, S.C.

Bachelor of Science

James Alexander Thomas, a member of the Class of 2024, leads the singing of the Alma Mater.
James Alexander Thomas, Class of 2024, leads the singing of the Alma Mater.

Graduates, Jan. 11, 2024: Walter Dávonte Barnette, Lancaster, S.C.; Myles Anthony Best, Jonesboro, Ga.; Henry Jesus Camacho, Louisville, Ky.; Teddy Hatcher Griffin, Greenville, S.C.; Wesley Dean Hanner, Lake City, S.C.; Jaelan Devion Harfield, Rock Hill, S.C.; Hayden Elizabeth Harrison, Greenwood, S.C.; De’Arius Hazel, Beaufort, S.C.; Amelia Victoria Heichel, cum laude, Pickens, S.C.; Nolan Jones Holloway, Columbia, S.C.; Jahrique Laquavis Isaiah, Longs, S.C.; Kaleigh Brooke Johnson, Central, S.C.; Benjamin Hudson Lewis, Greenville, S.C.; Kensey Taft Long, Columbia, S.C.; Zachariah Moulton Lowry, summa cum laude, Oneida, N.Y.; Kylie Brooke McKean, Easley, S.C.; Tyler Richard Quillens, Florence, S.C.; Jalen Kilam Watson, Columbia, S.C.

Chaplain Josh Chiles gave the invocation.
Chaplain Josh Chiles gave the invocation.
Professor of Philosophy Dr. David Reiter was among the students and faculty playing with Erskine Sinfonia for the ceremony.
Professor of Philosophy Dr. David Reiter was among the students and faculty playing with Erskine Sinfonia for the ceremony.

Graduates, May 4, 2024: Brandon Andres Abdala, Huntersville, N.C.; David D. Ackerman, Greenville, S.C.; Timothy Eugene Ashe, Greer, S.C.; Edgerrin Nehemiah Austin, Joliet, Ill.; Samantha Lee Beber, magna cum laude, Cape Coral, Fla.; John Paul Bell, Jr., summa cum laude, Due West, S.C.; Emma Caryl Bentz, Suwanee, Ga.; Neal Richard Blank, summa cum laude, Camden, S.C.; Enrique Boldo Sorribes, cum laude, Castellón, Spain; Rebecca Eden Bowers, Mt. Pleasant, S.C.; Caleb James Bruner, Anderson, S.C.; Carmen Sheree Chandler, Anderson, S.C.; Kyndall Brooke Chandler, magna cum laude, Fletcher, N.C.; Anthony Joseph Clark, summa cum laude, Rock Hill, S.C.; Madison Marie Clayton, cum laude, Charleston, S.C.; Ira Neal Clifton, magna cum laude, Fayetteville, Ga.; Natalie Rose DeVusser, cum laude, Johnson City, Tenn.; Caleb Andrew Dix, Homosassa, Fla.; Vito Gabriel Dorio, Sayreville, N.J.; Javon Derrick Douglas, Greenville, S.C.; Allison Grace Dutterer, magna cum laude, Belton, S.C.; Juan Fernández de Mesa Díez, Cádiz, Spain; Dale V. Francis, Fort Pierce, Fla.; Christopher Emory-Jamal Frank, Detroit, Mich.; Derek Ryan Gill, Spring, Texas; Victoria Leigh Gillis, Ware Shoals, S.C.; Jarius Lamont Gordon, Estill, S.C.; Kenneth Trevor Gorman, Honea Path, S.C.; Cooper McDavid Guest, Simpsonville, S.C.; Jeffrey Allen Gulish, Chester, S.C.; Gabrielle Faith Headley, magna cum laude, Honea Path, S.C.; Kevin Charles Heinrich, Coral Springs, Fla.; Michaela Grace Herring, Starr, S.C.; Alexander Christian Hesselgrave, Due West, S.C.; Richard West Hiller III, Chapin, S.C.; Justin Harrison Hogan, St. Augustine, Fla.; Jayden J. Holder, Manning, S.C.; Nikki Michelle King, magna cum laude, Flat Rock, N.C.; Jaime Marie Kraemer, Easley, S.C.; Trent Samuel Land, Seneca, S.C.; Johannes Lindström, Falköping, Sweden; Katherine E. Lowe, magna cum laude, Charleston, S.C.; Mark Anthony Lowenberg II, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Michael Keith Lynch, Snow Camp, N.C.; Greyson Hayes Marlowe, Greenville, S.C.; Kavon Arnez McBride, Kingstree, S.C.; Joshua Quinton Means, Spartanburg, S.C.; Shanece Alexandria Mitchell, Ladson, S.C.; Duncan Terry Owen, cum laude, Liberty, S.C.; Logan James Palma, Summerville, S.C.; Austin Cordell Parr, Inman, S.C.; Hailey Ann Patterson, Summerville, S.C.; Logan Alexander Piedra, cum laude, Pembroke Pines, Fla.; Jennifer Pineda, Greenwood, S.C.; Francisco José Pomar Domínguez, Ponce, Puerto Rico; Jaylen D. Prioleau, Charlotte, N.C.; Patricia Blair Quarles, Laurens, S.C.; Gillian Rose Ray, Madison, Ga.; Baylee Elise Rhoton, Kingsport, Tenn.; Jalen Jahari Robinson, cum laude, Heath Springs, S.C.; Angel Rafael Rodriguez, Stony Point, N.Y.; Kacper Maciej Rybarczyk, cum laude, Warsaw, Poland; Adam Lee Seagle, Lincolntown, N.C.; Banks Walker Vance Starbuck, Easley, S.C.; Connor Dillon Stark, Roswell, Ga.; Megan Jo Thees, Fort Mill, S.C.; Noah Steven Van Wieren, Anderson, S.C.; Jessica Elizabeth Vandiver, Pelzer, S.C.; Amanda Grace Wallace, Simpsonville, S.C.; Christian Sanchez Watley, Greenwood, S.C.; Stephen Brooks Webster, cum laude, Graniteville, S.C.

The speaker asked students to stand and applaud the faculty, staff, and family members who had encouraged them.
The speaker asked students to stand and applaud faculty, staff, and family members.

Candidates, Aug. 14, 2024: Coleton Reed Bridges, Chesnee, S.C.; Kayreem Jallel Brown, Columbia, S.C.; Donovan Patrick Bush, New Ellenton, S.C.; Savannah Rae Cannon, Greenville, S.C.; Victoria Carrera, Mexico City, Mexico; Alyssa Marie Conder, Mt. Pleasant, S.C.; Maria Acassia A. Dos Anjos, Ilheus, Brazil; Chelsey Tamia Eison, Union, S.C.; Dameon Ty’ree Green, Aiken, S.C.; Amanda Guzmán, Viña Del Mar, Valparaiso, Chile; Daniel Hernandez, Hialeah, Fla.; David Hernandez, Hialeah, Fla.; Omar Raynard Holland, Sumter, S.C.; Kingston Elijah Johnson, Cowpens, S.C.; Yong Min Lee, Johns Creek, Ga.; Reles Gauge Littleton, Clinton, S.C.; Floyd Dean Lyles III, Carlisle, S.C.; Jarvis Tyreese McClurkin, Ridgeway, S.C.; Nicholas John Pazos, Hialeah, Fla.; Alexander Robert Richardson, Fuquay-Varina, N.C.; Maliek Andreas Samuel, Florence, S.C.; Brandon Simmons, Charleston, S.C.; Tyler Layke Smith, Nolensville, Tenn.; Joshua Banner Spillman, Hamptonville, N.C.; Lana Vucovic, Nova Pazoba, Serbia; Hunter Blaine White, Black Mountain, N.C.; Dionte Quentiz Williams, Charleston, S.C.

Erskine Theological Seminary graduates:

Master of Arts in Practical Ministry

Graduate, May 4, 2024: Divinelove C. Mmaduka, Eginifite Aguata, Anambra, Nigeria

Candidate, Sept. 1, 2024: Nelson Bernard Rivers III, Charleston, S.C.

Master of Arts in Theological Studies

Graduate, May 4, 2024: Kenneth Andrew Hansen, Dawsonville, Ga.

Master of Divinity

Graduates, May 4, 2024: Benjamin Boyan, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Scott Hultstrand, Houston, Texas; Doug Inman, Lexington, S.C.; Pamelia LaVern Smalls, Charleston, S.C.

Candidates, Sept. 1, 2024: Thomas King, Greenville, S.C.; Katie M. Shaw, Verona, N.J.; Hunter David Tomlin, Rock Hill, S.C.

Master of Theology

Front row, from left, Registrar <strong>Tracy Spires</strong>, Dean of the Seminary <strong>Dr. Seth Nelson</strong>, Alumni Association President <strong>Dr. Sanita Cousar</strong>, Dean of the College <strong>D. Shane Bradley</strong>; middle row, Provost <strong>Dr. Edward Clavell,</strong> <strong>Dr. Carol Swain</strong>, <strong>Dr. Steve Adamson</strong>; back row, Board of Trustees Chairman <strong>Mike Whitehurst</strong>, Chaplain <strong>Josh Chiles
The platform party: front row, from left, Registrar Tracy Spires, Dean of the Seminary Dr. Seth Nelson, Alumni Association President Dr. Sanita Cousar, Dean of the College D. Shane Bradley; middle row, Provost Dr. Edward Clavell, Dr. Carol Swain, Dr. Steve Adamson; back row, Board of Trustees Chairman Mike Whitehurst, Chaplain Josh Chiles

Graduates, Jan. 1, 2024: Timothy Adrian Rice, Anderson, S.C.; Marc Edward Shefelton, Canton, Ohio

Graduate, May 4, 2024: Gerald Mark James, Stanfield, N.C.

Candidates, Sept. 1, 2023: Timothy George Bonner, Columbia, S.C.; Paul Chung, Charlotte N.C.; Aaron Jay DeBoer, Maple Falls, Wash.; David Mark Johnston II, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Grant E. Van Brimmer, Lompoc, Calif.

Doctor of Ministry

Graduates, Jan. 1, 2024: Matthew T. Allison, Rock Hill, S.C.; Brent David Easton, Murphysboro, Ill.; Jerry David Hall, Jr., Bessemer City, N.C.; Christopher Wade Odle, Las Vegas, Nev.

Graduates, May 4, 2024: Michael J. Halyard, Jacksonville, Fla.; Steven Wayne Satterfield, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Timothy Michael Sewell, Lake Placid, Fla.; Benjamin James Shear, Lawrence, Kan.

Candidates, Sept. 1, 2024: Michael Anthony DeRienzo, Queens, N.Y.; Rhonda D. Heyward, Hollywood, Calif.; Terry Dwayne Hill, Sr., Chattanooga, Tenn.; David Henry Lauren, Columbia, S.C.; Shirley Wigfall Pinckney, Cross, S.C.; Charles E. Poore III, Honolulu, Hawaii




Erskine and Due West Skyline

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