A Time for Joy, a Time for Tears; CIU holds spring 2018 commencement exercises

April 30, 2018

By Bob Holmes

Berther Ondiek is the first person in her Kenyan village to earn a Psychology degree. That explains the loud jubilation from several African friends who jumped up and down as they gathered in a circle around her in the CIU Quad following the spring undergraduate commencement.

Ondiek next plans to enroll in CIU’s Master of Arts in Counseling program so she can assist orphans and widows in her home country.

“I’m excited that God has given me the education I need to prepare me to go back home and invest in my society,” Ondiek said.

Her father is The Rev. Benard Ondiek, a 2005 CIU seminary graduate who calls his daughter “a very strong young lady.”

“She will help young people who are traumatized and in very bad shape,” The Rev. Ondiek said after watching his daughter graduate. “She is going to help lots of people there.”   

Meanwhile, at the graduate/seminary commencement, there was joy and a few tears when Janet King Ballard was presented with her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership. Ballard is head of school at Back Creek Christian Academy in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Her journey to her doctorate was a nine-year process that came with personal hardship: her husband was diagnosed with brain cancer at the beginning of her studies and died before she finished her dissertation. But Ballard learned about more than just being a better educator during those nine years. She learned more about God.

“I learned that with His power I could do things that I never dreamed possible,” Ballard said. “Because all along the way I didn’t think this would happen. In some ways, I had to only go one step, and I knew that He would help me with this step and then when I finished that step, He would help me with the next step. I had to travel this journey one step at a time with Him sustaining me, with Him beside me.”

At the two commencements, CIU President Dr. Mark Smith conferred degrees on a total of 193 students recognized for academic achievements from certificates and bachelor degrees to masters and doctoral degrees.

The graduate/seminary commencement address was given by Lyn Cook, the secretary-treasurer of Cook’s Pest Control headquartered in Decatur, Alabama. Cook received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from CIU in recognition of her work within her church, community and the business world.

The undergraduate commencement speaker was Dr. Benny Tate, senior pastor of Rock Springs Church in Milner, Georgia.

Listen to the commencement addresses on CIU's podcast page. View graduation photos on CIU's Flickr page

CIU is experiencing growth in enrollment and has announced $25 million in expansion plans. Information on CIU programs and enrollment is available at (800) 777-2227, ext. 5024. CIU is accredited by SACS-COC.