May 11, 2019
East Texas Baptist University held its Spring 2019 Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 11 at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn presided over the ceremonies as 156 students received undergraduate degrees and 11 received graduate degrees, for a total of 167 graduates.
“Graduates, we prayed over you before you enrolled, we prayed with you through your educational journey, and now we pray that God will take you to make a bold imprint on this world,” Dr. Blackburn said. “ETBU is committed to being a distinctively Christ-centered University, dedicated to glorifying God by transforming students into Christian servant leaders through their time here. Your journey in the pursuit, discovery, and application of God’s truths does not end on this Hill. It is our prayer that our graduates, who are fully equipped and empowered, use their intellectual and spiritual gifts to transform the world for the glory of God.”
Dr. Ben G. Raimer (ETBU Alumni 1969) provided the keynote address to the graduates of Christian Studies, Communication and Performing Arts, Nursing, and Professional Studies at the morning ceremony. Over the past three decades, Dr. Raimer has held numerous academic and administrative positions at University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). He also serves as President of the Texas Pediatric Association, Diplomat of the American Board of Pediatrics, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. For his service to God and humanity throughout his career, Dr. Raimer received an Honorary Doctoral Degree in Science. In his charge to graduates, Dr. Raimer challenged students to become all they can for God’s purpose.
“I cannot express in simple terms my gratitude for this recognition. However, the recognition belongs to those, who came long before me. It belongs to those, who taught me not just in science, but also in the Christian principles that would guide my life,” Dr. Raimer shared. “Fifty years ago, I walked across the stage in Scarborough Chapel with 68 of my lifelong friends to receive my undergraduate degree. From my time at ETBU, I profoundly remember the people who cared about me, loved me, and wanted me to be a success repeatedly filling my cup. Every day, I become more appreciative of what they put in that cup. My experience at ETBU began a journey that led me to a life of service. Students, chart a course based on the principles you have learned at this institution. I hope you start a journey of becoming all you can for God’s purpose.”
Reid Adams, a Bachelor of Science graduate in Athletic Training, received the President’s Award for being the best representation of a Christian leader, scholar, and servant. Adams received the American Southwest Conference (ASC) East Division Sportsmanship Athlete of the Year as a freshman on the ETBU Tennis Team for his display of character on and off the court. Throughout his time with Tiger Athletics, he has led a Bible study for the Tennis Team. He has served with Student Life as the Student Body President, a representative of the Tennis Team in Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Resident Assistant (RA) for two years, and mentor in a freshman dorm on campus. Actively involved as a member of New Beginnings Baptist Church, Adams also volunteers at Hallsville Elementary School in the Physical Education department.
“Receiving the President’s Award is such an honor,” Adams commented. “I cannot say thank you enough to my parents and family for all of their love and support over these last four years. I am thankful to have been surrounded by amazing mentors, professors, and friends who poured into me to help me grow in my faith and allow me to become the man I am today. I will forever be grateful to ETBU and all it has given me and am excited to see where the Lord leads me in this next phase of life.”
At the service, Chair of the Department of History and Political Science Sandy Hoover was recognized for his excellence in service, scholarship, teaching, and integration of faith and learning with the Professor with Distinction Award. Dr. Hoover also serves as the President of Faculty Senate at ETBU and Pastor at Athey Baptist Church in Harleton, Texas.
Dr. Hoover was described as a faculty member who, “goes out of his way to accommodate the needs of our students and works diligently to help them succeed. All of his students love him dearly, and they participate happily whenever he takes them to local community development projects. Sandy is not only an excellent teacher, researcher, pastor, and community leader, he is also one of the finest persons you would ever happen to meet. He is kind, generous, and humorous.”
The University celebrated the lives of Darrian Anthony McClintock, Jr. and Norvontre LaShawn Harrison. Three years ago, these young men died together in an act of bravery and friendship. Prior to the second service, their families were presented with diplomas to recognize their sons with Honorary Bachelor of Science degrees.
“Their sacrifice brought our campus together in ways that can still be felt today,” ETBU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Thomas Sanders said. “I was reminded recently that, while it is difficult to bear, grief is a reminder of love. Today, I want you all to know how much we loved these two men. We cherish their memory and impact.”
The afternoon ceremony speaker, Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas Executive Director and Treasurer Tamiko C. Jones, presented a charge to the graduates of the Schools of Business, Education, Humanities, and Natural and Social Sciences. Jones began her career with Motorola, Inc. after graduating from North Carolina A&T State University with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. Once she completed her M.B.A. at U.D., she progressed through various positions with Motorola and Nokia Siemens Networks. She reminded students to trust God’s plan for their lives.
“I enjoyed an enriching career as an electrical engineer, learning to thrive in environments as the only female, minority, and country girl in the room,” Jones shared. “I serve the local congregation through a role meant to bolster my strengths, highlight the importance of perseverance, and create an environment of self-discovery. Now, I am blessed to lead a 138-year-old organization for the state of Texas. Even in my amazement, this was not always my dream. I had my own plans, but I have learned over the years about trusting God’s plan for my life. All journeys are different. The one thing we have in common is that we all experience trials. Doing the right thing may seem to have the wrong outcome, and your ideal path to success may have a few detours. To enjoy the journey, you must be flexible, trust the process, and choose to move forward.”