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ETBU honors students at Presidential Scholars Society and Honors Program Dinner

March 19, 2024

East Texas Baptist University (ETBU) proudly honored academic excellence and Christian scholarship at the Presidential Scholars Society and Honors Program Dinner held on Tuesday, March 19, 2024, in the Great Hall of ETBU’s Great Commission Center. The event, hosted by ETBU President Dr. J. Blair Blackburn, recognized students who have achieved extraordinary success in their educational pursuits throughout their time at ETBU, as well as students who are members of ETBU’s Honors Program.

"This special event serves as a way for our University leadership to celebrate not only academic achievement but also the embodiment of our University's Christ-centered mission.” Dr. Blackburn said. “These students have excelled in their studies but have also demonstrated a commitment to Christian values and service. They are shining examples of what it means to be leaders who will make a positive impact in their communities and beyond."

Professor of English and Director of the ETBU Honors Program Dr. Zachary Beck introduced the keynote speaker for the evening and shared about the heart behind the annual ASK Speaker Event, which was infused into the dinner’s program.

“I'm grateful to President Blackburn for inviting us to present the Honors Program’s third annual ASK Speaker tonight as part of the Presidential Scholars Society Dinner. ‘ASK’ is actually an acronym for ‘ask,’ ‘seek,’ and ‘knock,’ from Chapter 7 of Matthew's Gospel. In the original Greek, these three commands from Jesus are in the present progressive. Ask and continue asking, seek and continue seeking, knock and continue knocking. The purpose of the ASK Speaker Event is to invite fellow inquirers of life and the universe to spend some time with our community to share what they have learned in their pursuit of wisdom, and to witness to God's provision in that pursuit.”

Dr. Alan Noble, Associate Professor of English at Oklahoma Baptist University delivered the charge to those in attendance. Dr. Noble has been teaching composition and literature for more than a decade, beginning at Antelope Valley College, and then at Baylor University. He has contributed scholarship on Cormac McCarthy and has published a book with InterVarsity Press titled, Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age. In addition, Dr. Noble is Editor-in-Chief of the online magazine, Christ and Pop Culture; co-founder of the evangelical political organization, Public Faith; a member of the Leadership Council of the AND Campaign; and a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, Vox, Buzzfeed, First Things, Christianity Today, and The Gospel Coalition.

Dr. Noble challenged students to cultivate four virtues in order to participate prophetically, truthfully, and persuasively in a contemporary world: humility, desiring the good of others, prudence, and fortitude.

“We desperately need Christians who embody these virtues to participate in culture in a manner that brings glory to God and edifies our neighbor,” Dr. Noble said. “These virtues demand much of us. They are costly in time and in social capital—but our world desperately needs them. As Christians, we ought to be known for our virtuous character.”

To conclude the evening, 11 senior Presidential Scholars were presented with Presidential Scholar Society awards in recognition of maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA after more than 90 completed credit hours at the institution. The following honorees were recognized:

Avery Abshier
Erin Berry
Karis Crenshaw
Mary Frances Ellis
Elijah Gage
Hannah Hobson
Kendall Little
Madison O’Neal
Sarah Resendez
Holli Richards
Hallie Sadler

"Celebrating these outstanding scholars reminds us of the transformative power of education guided by faith,” Dr. Blackburn continued. “As they embark on their future endeavors, I have no doubt they will continue to inspire others for the cause of Christ."