Snead State Holds Spring Commencement Ceremony

5/8/2015

The annual Spring Commencement Ceremony at Snead State Community College brought students, faculty and staff, family and special guests together to share in the successes and accomplishments of the approximately 250 graduates participating. The event was held Thursday in the Plunkett-Wallace Gymnasium.

“We are here to celebrate our graduates and their amazing accomplishments,” said Snead State President Dr. Robert Exley. “On the other hand, without the contribution of people of significant influence in the lives of tonight’s graduates, tonight might not be happening for some of our students. A person of influence is someone who makes a positive difference in the life of someone else.”

Dr. Exley referenced Joseph Campbell’s 1949 work, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” which served as inspiration for much of the screenplay for George Lucas’ Star Wars. In the work, Campbell describes a hero as “someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” Dr. Exley then recognized the heroes among the faculty and staff, including the guest speaker for the evening, who embraced their purpose in life and made a difference in the lives of graduates.

Snead State Director of Religious Studies Dr. Jonathan Watts served as the Commencement speaker for Thursday’s ceremony, held in the Plunkett-Wallace Gymnasium. Dr. Watts is an Oxford Foundation Fellow and was recognized by his alma mater, Southern Wesleyan University, with the Professional Excellence Award in Education. He is a published author of three books and is currently working on a fourth.

As Dr. Watts addressed the graduates and guests Thursday night, he remarked about his unique position. “I am not an outsider. Many of these graduating tonight I have had in class. Those in caps and gowns with all the colors and stripes – the faculty, staff, and administration – are friends, colleagues and peers.”

Dr. Watts brought to the ceremony a symbol of inspiration that many of the graduates and guests recognized – a stuffed doll of Buzz Lightyear, a character from Pixar’s animated film “The Toy Story” who was best known for his catchphrase, “To Infinity and Beyond!”

“To the Class of 2015, that is my wish for you – to infinity and beyond! The world has yet to see what your generation will provide – better technology, better healthcare and medicines, better machines, better thought and philosophies, and most of all, bigger and better dreams,” Dr. Watts said.

Dr. Watts shared with the graduates three life lessons he encouraged them to remember: follow your heart, find a mentor, and never think what you do is not important.

“You may not know what you want to do or be today. You may not know tomorrow, next month or next year. But true happiness, true peace, true satisfaction comes when you make that journey from the head to the heart, and you know deep within your soul you are making the right decision,” he said. “Find…someone to guide you, affirm you, encourage you, and remember you. The road of life is not created by always blazing new trails. We need someone who will listen to us, and in return, we will listen to them. Sometimes the journey is more interesting, more enjoyable, more insightful when we join with someone else on the road.”

Honoring success and achievement continued not only with faculty and staff recognition and the presentation of certificates and degrees but also with the presentation of student awards.

Tyler Goble of Guntersville received the Civitan Best All-Around Student Award.  The Civitan Award is presented annually to the Best All-Around Student of the graduating class. To be eligible for this award, the student must have attended Snead State Community College for at least three semesters and attained a minimum cumulative academic average of 3.0 on a four-point scale.  In addition, the student should have participated in extracurricular and community activities. The student is elected by a vote of the faculty from a list of eligible graduates who are participating in the graduation ceremonies.

Colton Pendley of Albertville was awarded the James B. Allen Award presented annually to the Outstanding Student of the graduating class.  This award is a gift of the late James B. Allen, United States Senator from Alabama. To be eligible for this award, the student must have exhibited outstanding qualities of leadership and service, attained a minimum cumulative academic average of 3.5, and attended Snead State Community College for at least three semesters. The student is elected by a vote of the faculty from a list of eligible graduates who are participating in the graduation ceremonies.

Colton Pendley and Mallory Hambrick of Crossville were recognized as this year’s members of the All-Alabama Academic Team. The All-Alabama Scholarship program is a complement to the All-USA National Academic Team Program, which is sponsored by USA Today, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and the American Association of Community Colleges.

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