On May 14, Living University held its final assembly and concluded the 2017–2018 academic year with the institution’s largest commencement. The venue was Embassy Suites Ayrsley in southwest Charlotte, with 170 attendees total, including 29 graduates present. Twelve others graduated in absentia.
It was a fitting day for students and faculty to receive honors in the presence of family and friends. The beautiful weather outdoors reflected the fine quality of the ceremony itself.
The Processional and Invocation preceded singing of the national anthem. University President Dr. Michael Germano gave the Welcome Address. Graduating student and Student Body President Travis Pate delivered the Student Discourse, reflecting on campus life and the challenges that lead to the true education afforded by L.U.
Dr. Germano was given a special tribute, an engraved crystal globe on a stand, for his years of service and dedication to the university.
Three students received awards. Mrs. Michelle Broussard, who was hired as Assistant Registrar for L.U. several years ago, received the John H. Ogwyn Academic Achievement Award for exceptional classwork. The award was presented by Mrs. Genie Ogwyn. Two Academic Distinction Awards were also given, to students Joshua Penman and Ryan Nicholson.
Students graduating with highest honors were Kyle Keas (CA, absent, Bachelor of Theology), Adam West (NY, Associate of Theology), Kelsey Stevens (NC, Associate of Theology), Michelle Broussard (NC, Bachelor of Theology) and Joshua Penman (NC, Bachelor of Theology). Students graduating with high honors were Briona Martin (NC, Associate of Theology) and Louis Marchand (MA, absent, Diploma in Biblical Studies).
An uplifting vocal solo of "Climb Every Mountain" by Miss Rebekah Ross followed the award presentations, after which Presiding Evangelist and Chancellor of Living University, Mr. Gerald Weston, gave the Commencement Address. The conferring of credentials followed, and after the ceremony, graduates, their families and guests were invited to remain and fellowship.
Living University ended its eleventh year with clear themes of overcoming challenges, embracing change, and following God's lead, even when He takes us in unexpected directions.
As Mr. Pate said in his Student Discourse, "It has taken quite a lot of effort to get to this point…. [Living University] was designed to be a life experience that would shape the whole person. God, through L.U., has dramatically changed my life and the lives of my peers." He summed up his address by stating that the graduates were leaving Living University stronger, wiser and more well-rounded in the faith—and that being thrust into unexpected circumstances and relationships was pivotal to that result. As an L.U. alumnus who once stood in his shoes, and as a witness of that growth and change over the years, I can readily attest to Mr. Pate's words.
Dr. Germano reflected on the history of Ambassador College as an antecedent to L.U., comparing the two institutions by citing the challenges faced by both. He emphasized the positive benefits and number of lives touched in the course of both programs and said, "Ambassador 'set the norm' and established an overall approach to God-centered education for Christian life." He emphasized the important principles that both institutions followed: understanding that the word of God is the foundation of knowledge, recapturing true values and applying them in life, and seeing all the world and every God-given opportunity in it as a learning experience. Dr. Germano stressed that obeying God and applying these principles brings wonderful blessings—and that God "built the house and our effort has not been in vain. We have completed the phase that God had in mind for us to do…. Jesus Christ is the head of His Church and He guides and He directs our leadership…. We should rejoice in the opportunities that we have." He concluded by talking about responding to change, not only L.U.'s change to Living Education and the need for graduates and future students to embrace and support that change, but the need to continue supporting and emphasizing the Work of God in a dangerous and rapidly changing world.He charged us all, graduates and audience, to give our wholehearted support to the Church's efforts and to continue letting our lights shine.
Mr. Weston, in the Commencement Address, stated, "God takes us to places we would never dream, if we make Him a part of our lives and turn our lives over to Him." He stressed the need for doing everything with our might and putting our own best efforts forward. Working together, overcoming, being a part of the L.U. endeavor—Mr. Weston called these things education for life and challenged graduates and all present to continue growing and savoring the things of God.
Positive commitment and optimism were clearly reflected in the University's faculty and graduates. It was clear that the educational principles established by the Living Church of God for Living University will produce a successful yield and continuing legacy.