Union College commends 202 graduates to change their world

During the commencement address at Union College’s graduation on May 10, Charles Sandefur, president of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, challenged the graduates to make their world better by becoming pilgrims. “In a few minutes, you’re going to get a diploma,” Sandefur said. “I want you take that Bible with its visual peace and justice, and I want you to take that diploma with its statement about your talents, and I want you to clap those two together.  And I want you to make a difference and a change in the world.”

Union College graduated 202 students from the class of 2009. The awarded diplomas consisted of 20 associate’s, 171 bachelor’s and 25 Master of Physician Assistant Studies degrees presented at the annual commencement ceremony in the College View Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The service recognized 33 graduates from December 2008, 137 May graduates and 32 prospective August graduates. Among this group, 14 students received two degrees. Three of the graduating seniors are Union Scholars, which involves advanced coursework and a research project. Eight graduated summa cum laude, nine magna cum laude, and 33 cum laude.

Over one-fourth of the class had participated in international academic work: 12 volunteered for close to a year as student missionaries, 18 spent a semester in Central America with the international and relief (IRR) program, ten studied in Central America over the summer, three enrolled with Adventist Colleges Abroad, and one researched Tuscan art and literature in Italy with the Union Scholars program.

Of the nursing graduates, five students traveled to Nicaragua to volunteer over Spring Break. Members of this nursing class have participated in mission work in 30 countries. This year, the nursing program was proud to graduate 26 students in its 60th four-year nursing class.

The breadth of these graduates’ international experience has inspired many to seek careers of service. For Angela Gaedke, a nursing and IRR student, this meant accepting a medical call to go back to Honduras and work with the ambulance service and helicopter transport on the island of Roatan.

Gaedke transferred to Union from the University of Texas in Brownsville, and says she never regretted the switch. The nursing program and Laura Karges, one of her professors, helped her find her strengths and work on her weaknesses. And though going through IRR was challenging in many ways, she found spiritual, physical and emotional support through her classmates and teachers.

“I’ve become family with so many people I’ve met at Union. I wouldn’t trade that for anything” Gaedke said.

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

Union College Graduation Weekend Schedule

Consecration Service: 8 p.m., Friday, May 8. Valeree Krueger, associate professor of nursing spoke followed by 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 9. The class of 2009 led Sabbath School in the main sanctuary of the College View church.

Baccalaureate: 12 noon, Saturday, May 10. Roscoe J. Howard III, president of the Mid-America Union Conference, addressed the graduates and congregation.

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

Commencement: 10 a.m., Sunday, May 11. Charles Sandefur, president of Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), delivered the address.