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186 graduates conferred during ETBU’s Spring 2024 Commencement

May 11, 2024

East Texas Baptist University presented 186 graduates with degrees during its commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 10, in Baker Chapel of the Rogers Spiritual Life Center. ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn presided over the ceremony, during which 165 students received undergraduate degrees and 21 received graduate degrees. The worship ceremony featured Scripture readings, praise and worship through song, prayers, and blessings over the graduates, including words from Dr. Blackburn reminding those in attendance of the University's Christ-centered mission.

"During my time at ETBU, I've worked on campus and have gotten close to the professors and students," ETBU rehabilitative science graduate Holli Richards said. "It means so much to be able to be surrounded by people that love Jesus and that love me.  As a student worker, I've learned professional skills like interacting with others and being supportive to others. As a tutor working with students, I've experienced different learning styles and practiced patience and love for people different from me. ETBU has allowed me to spread Christ's love every chance I get."

During the first ceremony, Sam Moseley was presented with an Honorary Doctorate. Samuel (Sam) Ross Moseley, a distinguished legal professional, graduated from the University of Texas in Austin in 1965 with a Bachelor of Business Administration and went on to earn a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Houston in 1967. Sam's career included serving as Assistant City Attorney for Marshall, co-founding the firm Moseley and Moseley, and working in the administrations of Presidents Reagan and Bush from 1985-1993. Notably, Congress appointed him to the Millennial Housing Commission in 2000. Sam has been actively involved in the Marshall community, including serving as a member and chairman of the East Texas Baptist University Board of Trustees.

"Congratulations to Dr. Sam Mosley," President J. Blair Balckburn said. "We are so thankful for all Sam has done for East Texas Baptist University. He has invested over three decades of his life in this institution, and we're thankful for his service. He is very deserving of this award."

The Honorable Nathaniel Moran, United States Congressman for The First District of Texas, delivered the keynote address at the first ceremony. In the House of Representatives, Congressman Moran serves on the Judiciary Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee, and the Education and the Workforce Committee. As a freshman member, he was also appointed by the Speaker of the House to serve as the U.S. Chairman of the Transatlantic Legislator's Dialogue, one of the longest and most intensive inter-parliamentary relationships in the history of the European Parliament or the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Moran charged the graduates to remember that the Lord has set them apart and appointed them for a special purpose.

"Your identity is found in a living Savior who has overcome this world," Moran said. "He is waiting to turn your education and vocation into instruments of the King. You are not like the world, and your mission is not a worldly mission. Be in the world, but not of it, and this University has helped prepare you to live out the Gospel, to be sanctified, to be set apart. You've been educated, equipped, and empowered at ETBU."

Dr. Blackburn presented Steve and Penny Carlile with Honorary Doctorates during the second ceremony. Steve and Penny Carlile have been connected to East Texas Baptist University for many years, as both Steve and Penny previously served as members of the ETBU Board of Trustees. After graduating from Marshall High School and Baylor University, Steve and Penny returned to their hometown of Marshall to build a life and leave a legacy for their family, church and community. Steve joined his family's oil and gas business in Marshall, and in 1996, they founded Home & Garden Party. This direct sales company was designed to empower women in the workplace and to employ people in Marshall and the surrounding area. They have also been involved in real estate and banking businesses. Penny is the author of a novel, "The Girl on Rusk Street." The Carliles have invested in their hometown by supporting local organizations and initiatives, including Mission Marshall, the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Pines, Marshall Independent School District, Marshall downtown revitalization, and Marshall City Park. In 2003, the Carliles were named Citizens of the Year by the Marshall Chamber of Commerce. In 2018, ETBU awarded Steve and Penny the Sam B. Hall Civic Service Award. Steve and Penny Carlile Hall is named in honor of Steve and Penny for their generous investment through institutional service, campus building initiatives, and encouragement to expand and increase the impact of East Texas Baptist University.

"We're thankful for Steve and Penny Carlile and all that they mean to the life of the University," Dr. Blackburn said. "These two individuals are examples of servant leadership. They have modeled this in their life, business, economic development, education, workforce development, and the performance and fine arts through their service and administrative philanthropy. They have a passion for God, and they have compassion for people. When they see a need, they meet it. When they see an opportunity, they advance it. We are grateful for what God has done through the lives of Dr. Steve and Dr. Penny Carlile."

The Carliles charged the graduates in the second ceremony, encouraging them to always put God first in their lives. "How you interact with others is often the clearest indicator of your depth of faith," Steve Carlile said. In every part of your life, every word, every action, think about, am I glorifying Christ? Be patient, especially with those who are less fortunate than you. Overlook criticism, and be quick to forgive. The choices that you make today either draw you closer to God or push you further away."

Each semester, ETBU President Blackburn presents an award to a graduate who represents a Christian leader, scholar, and servant within the campus and the local community. Parker Hudson Boone, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities, received the President's Award for the Spring 2024 graduating class. Parker maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout his time at ETBU. Boone has consistently demonstrated ETBU's core commitments during his time on the Hill. His faithful service and leadership have distinguished him in the classroom, throughout campus, and in the community. During his time at ETBU, Parker has served his community by leading in Residence Life, Phi Alpha Theta, Alpha Chi, the Howard C. Bennett Speech Program, the CASL Executive Committee, and as a student worker in the Alumni and Advancement Office. Parker completed an honors project this spring, and a condensed version of his work has won awards from Phi Alpha Theta, a National History honors society, and Alpha Chi, an interdisciplinary honors society for the top ten percent of juniors and seniors in their universities.

One ETBU faculty member shared, "Parker has been a faithful servant, dedicated student, and humble leader during his time at ETBU. He approaches all situations with thought and grace, leaning on Christ to make decisions that best represent the Kingdom." 

Ms. Martha Dudley, Senior Assistant Professor of Nursing and the Robert Craig Chair of Nursing, was recognized with the 2024 Professor with Distinction Award for her excellence in service, scholarship, teaching, and integration of faith and learning. Professor Dudley earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from ETBU in 2002 and joined the ETBU faculty in 2008.

When discussing Ms. Dudley's impact on her as a mentor, one student said, "I have learned much from her and am blessed to have her as a mentor in my life. She continually inspires me to work hard beyond my boundaries and pursue my calling in nursing."

"East Texas Baptist University first awarded associate degrees in 1919 and bachelor's degrees in 1945," Dr. Sanders said. "Commencement is a special time in the life of a university. It is an event that celebrates the relationship between students and faculty. It is also a time for both the University and the graduates' families to join in the pride and celebration of these graduates."