CIU Celebrates the Class of 2017
By Janai Tedder
CIU Student Writer
Columbia International University sent off the 207 members of the Class of 2017 during two April 29 commencement ceremonies in Shortess Chapel. The graduates were awarded diplomas ranging from certificates to doctoral degrees as faculty and families celebrated with shouts of encouragement and applause.
“Today is a celebration of what God has been doing in and through you,” Provost Dr. James Lanpher said in his welcoming speech. “Maybe you thought this day would never come but now that it’s here, maybe you can’t believe it’s already over.”
“In a sense,” Lanpher added, “President Jones is graduating along with you.”
Jones spoke on 2 Timothy 4:5, a passage he felt graduates could relate to and is the passion of his heart.
“My last charge to you on the day of your last Chapel is to ‘do the work of an evangelist and fulfill your ministry,’” Jones said. He then added, “And I sure do love you guys.”
Jones shared stories of his experience with evangelism including an email he recently received from a man who, as a teen, heard Jones present the gospel at a church camp 30 years ago. The man thanked him for the impact he had on his decision to follow Christ.
After receiving their diplomas, each graduate was given a bag of seed to symbolize and remind them to spread the Word of God wherever He plants them.
Graduate Betsy Rea is thankful to be done with school, but sad to be leaving CIU.
“I appreciated what President Jones said about fulfilling our ministry,” Rea said. “I’m excited to see where God leads me and how he enables me to fulfill that ministry and calling.”
Bryan Frierson called graduation exciting and is looking forward to his marketing job with the Columbia (South Carolina) Fireflies minor league baseball team.
“Graduating feels bittersweet,” Frierson said. “College was a time I built some lifelong friendships and have an overall great experience, but I’m excited to see where my CIU education takes me in fulfilling my calling.”