Union College graduation marks alumni milestone

Tara Taylor and Zak Adams
Tara Taylor and Zak Adams in graduation regalia during Parents Weekend 2007.

Quick facts about graduates:

  • 100 percent of the graduates who applied to medical school have been accepted.
  • 28 nursing students and 28 business administration students will graduate, tying those programs for the most graduating majors.
  • 19 graduates took off a year during college to volunteer through programs affiliated with Union. Of those, 13 served in foreign countries.
  • 13 graduates have spent a semester or more abroad studying at an affiliated college or university.

On Sunday, May 11, Union College awarded 212 associate, baccalaureate and master's degrees during the annual commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. in the College View Seventh-day Adventist Church. According to alumni association records, Raven Downs, business adminstration major and third-generation Union alumnus, became the 10,000th graduate to enter the Alumni Association.

"Whenever I meet alumni or talk to students, I enjoy hearing the transformative stories each degree represents," said David Smith, college president. "A round number like 10,000 is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the students and the faculty and staff who have contributed to the lives of Union College alumni."

The service recognized 20 graduates from December 2007, 134 May graduates and 44 prospective August graduates for a total of 197 graduates. Among this group, 14 students received two degrees. Eleven of the graduating seniors are Union Scholars, which involves advanced coursework and a research project.

For the second year, Union awarded master's degrees. Twenty-two students received a Master of Physician Assistant Studies. In 2004, Union College transitioned its physician assistant program from a bachelor's to a master's level.

This year also included 12 students majoring in international rescue and relief, the program's first full graduating class. The major, first offered in 2004, is the only baccalaureate program of its kind in the United States.

Samuel H. Turner, Union College board member and president and CEO of Shawnee Mission Medical Center, delivered the commencement address Sunday morning. In addition, Nebraska State Senator Tony Fulton (District 29) presented Legislative Resolution #248 honoring Union College. The resolution specifically cites Union's growing enrollment and contributions to Nebraska's intellectual and economic development as well as recognition earned from U.S. News and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Prior to graduation on Sunday, weekend festivities began Friday evening (see schedule below).

Union College Graduation Weekend Schedule

Physician Assistant Hooding: 4:30 p.m., Friday, May 9. Congressman Jeff Fortenberry delivered the keynote as Union holds its first hooding ceremony for master's students.

Consecration Service: 8 p.m., Friday, May 9. David Smith, Union College president, spoke. Immediately following the service there was a reception in Heartland Hall of the church for all graduates, their families and Union College employees.

Sabbath School: 10:40 a.m., Saturday, May 10. The class of 2008 led Sabbath School in the main sanctuary of the College View church.

Baccalaureate: 12 noon, Saturday, May 10. Ron Carlson, president of the Kansas-Nebraska Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, spoke. Carlson is the father of two of this year's graduates.

Senior Nurses' Dedication: 4:30 p.m., Saturday, May 10. The senior nurses received their pins. The nursing faculty led the students as they take the Nightingale Pledge.

Commencement: 10 a.m., Sunday, May 11. Samuel H. Turner, Union College board member and president and CEO of Shawnee Mission Medical Center, delivered the address.