Bridgewater College recognized 335 undergraduates and 30 master’s students receiving degrees on Saturday, May 7, during the College’s 142nd Commencement ceremony. The degrees were conferred by Dr. David W. Bushman, president of Bridgewater College.
After Grand Marshal Dr. Benjamin Albers, associate professor of sociology, called the ceremony to order, six seniors took to the stage to share an invocation in their native languages: English, Arabic, French, Spanish, Creole and Bulgarian.
Dr. Bushman welcomed members of the Class of 2022 and their family and friends to the ceremony and asked the audience to observe a moment of silence in honor of Campus Police Officer John Painter and Campus Safety Officer Vashon “J.J.” Jefferson, who sacrificed their lives in service to the care and safety of the BC community on Feb. 1.
Chair of the College’s Board of Trustees D. Bruce Christian P’06 then spoke to the Class of 2022, noting their resiliency and perseverance and reminded graduates they always have a home at BC. President of the College’s Alumni Association Bradley Hallock ’86 remarked that as alumni, the strength of the connections made at BC can be fostered for a lifetime.
Mary Monaco ’21, M’22 spoke on behalf of the graduate program candidates. Monaco, a master of arts in digital media strategy student from Fishersville, Va., spoke on Bridgewater’s founding values of goodness, truth, beauty and harmony, telling classmates, “After today, it will be on us to stand up for each other, build connections and care for our communities the way that it has been demonstrated here.”
Senior Class President Jenna “Claire” Ashley, a nutritional science major from Culpeper, Va., presented the class gift. The class of 2022 selected the John Painter and Vashon “J.J.” Jefferson Memorial Student Support Fund as the designation for their class gift. This fund will be held in perpetuity to honor the memories and preserve the legacies of the two officers.
Lauren Eye, recipient of the 2022 Bridgewater College Founder’s Day Award and a health and exercise science and sociology double major from Fredericksburg, Va., offered reflections and reminded the Class of 2022 that they matter and have touched lives during their time at BC.
Following the reflection, the College’s Symphonic Band performed “When Peace Like a River” by Gary Fagan ’73. Fagan, an accomplished music educator and composer, wrote the piece to honor the sacrifice of Officers Painter and Jefferson. “When Peace Like a River” is meant to serve as a source of hope and encouragement and as a reminder that even when tragedy occurs, we keep our faith and find strength in God.
After the performance, Dr. Bushman and Provost and Executive Vice President Dr. Leona A. Sevick presented president’s medals to four retired faculty members. The medal is awarded for distinguished service and a demonstrated commitment to the highest ideals of Bridgewater College. It is inscribed with the College seal and the College’s ideals of goodness, truth, beauty and harmony.
President’s medal recipients were Dr. Joe Crockett, professor of chemistry, emeritus; Dr. Stephen Longenecker, professor of history, emeritus; Dr. Mwizenge Tembo, professor of sociology, emeritus; and Dr. Alice Trupe, professor of English, emerita.
Dr. Bushman served as the Commencement speaker for 2022. In his address, “All of Us,” he said, “Even though all Commencements might look similar, each one is unique. Each one celebrates unique individuals, unique accomplishments and unique communities. And because this year we are celebrating all of those things in the light of new hope following a tragically dark day, this is a uniquely special Commencement. We are celebrating not just your accomplishments, but your resiliency in the face of heartache and our shared strength in a time of turmoil. We are, today, more than any other Commencement in the College’s history, celebrating our connections and our community. We are recognizing and celebrating your promise, your potential and your capacity for greatness. And we are celebrating the sacrifice and care and commitment of everyone who helped you arrive at this day. We are celebrating all of us.”
Among the 335 undergraduate students in the Class of 2022, 160 earned bachelor of arts degrees and 175 earned bachelor of science degrees. Twenty-seven members of the class graduated summa cum laude—the top academic honor which requires students to achieve at least a 3.9 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. Thirty-six graduates earned magna cum laude honors—a 3.7 or better average. Cum laude honors, requiring a 3.4 grade point average, were earned by 56 graduates.
As a special tradition at Bridgewater, faculty and staff members award their children with their degrees onstage. At this year’s ceremony, Professor of English Dr. Scott Suter and retired mathematics and computer science instructor and former head track and field coach Shane Stevens ’79 awarded degrees to their children: Anna Suter and Carson Stevens.