A Time for Joy & Tears

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May 19, 2015

May Commencement at CIU

A Time for Joy, a Time for Tears

By Melissa McCutchan

For nearly 200 Columbia International University graduates, May 16 was a day for celebration and bittersweet goodbyes.  As graduates crossed the stage in Shortess Chapel, they celebrated both the fruit of their hard work, and many said goodbye to the friends and professors who had made CIU feel like home.

“I loved that I was able to celebrate with family and friends,” said Charron Conley, who received a Master’s of Arts degree in Bible Teaching. “The difficult part was knowing that graduation was the last weekend for a long time to be with such great friends.”

CIU conducted two commencement ceremonies, the first for seminary and graduate students, and the second for undergraduates. South Carolina State Senator Darrell Jackson, a CIU alumnus who also pastors Bible Way Church of Atlas Road in Columbia, addressed graduates in both ceremonies.  His message, “The Blessings of Knowing,” challenged graduates to take their biblical knowledge to those who need it.

“Quite frankly, over the years I’ve learned that God isn’t so impressed with degrees, but He is impressed with what you do with those degrees,” Jackson said. 

The undergraduate ceremony also included the tearful remembrance of Keturah Washington, a beloved CIU undergraduate student who passed away in February. The CIU faculty posthumously awarded her diploma for bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Bible with Washington’s parents receiving the diploma on her behalf.  As their gift to CIU, the Class of 2015 also established an annual scholarship in Washington’s name.

“There are three things we know about Keturah: she loved life, she loved learning, and she loved her Lord,” said Dr. Dan DeLozier, who was Washington’s academic advisor.

With tassels turned and diplomas in hand, CIU President Dr. Bill Jones addressed the graduates for the last time, encouraging them to use their degrees to make an impact for Christ.

“I wonder how many thousands of people will come to know Christ through your lives, whether [you are] a professional minister or a ministering professional,” Jones said.  “May you go out and make a difference in thousands and thousands of peoples’ hearts.”

Hear the commencement address from Sen. Darrell Jackson.

See photos from CIU's graduate and seminary commencement and the undergraduate commencement