The Transylvania Times -

College Graduates Have A Day To Remember - Brevard, NC


May 8, 2017

Courtesy photo

Surrounded by family and friends, Michael St. Marie, was one of the 169 students who graduated Saturday from Brevard College.

There are a handful of events that happen in a person's life that they are unlikely to forget. Graduation is one such event. On Saturday, 169 students and their families gathered for Brevard College's 164th commencement.

Attendees and students couldn't hold back smiles as four years of hard work finally came to a close.

"We come here this morning to salute the outstanding achievements of the graduating Class of 2017 - a class that has clearly made its mark on our college in so many important ways," said Brevard College President David Joyce in his welcoming speech.

This year's graduating class has a lot to be proud of, as they fully embraced experiential learning in their four-year undergraduate pursuit: The Brevard College climbing club worked with the administration to transition into an official climbing team and the cycling team brought home two Division I National Championships.

The Class of 2017 also welcomed a brand-new residence hall and turf field. Students stargazed with the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute, learning how to operate radio telescopes and observe galaxies. Recycling bins were made available for individual students. ENOpods and rentable hammocks not only brought students outside, but closer together. Students in the Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education program planned their 21-day immersion in the wilderness. The women of the Institute for Women in Leadership program mentored middle-school girls, and theatre students came together to direct and produce their own play.

Most college seniors are faced with the dreaded question, "What are your plans after graduation?"

One department in particular that addresses this issue of plans after college is Brevard's Criminal Justice program. The program partners with the Brevard Police Department to allow students to participate in the Police Academy as part of their degree, preparing them to hit-the-ground running after they graduate.

The program also includes partnerships with Sheriff's offices in Transylvania, Greenville, and Hillsboro counties, the Hendersonville Police Department, the North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement Agency, and the U.S. Army and Air Force.

Transylvania County Sheriff David Mahoney, a criminal justice major, was among the many students who walked across the stage Saturday.

"Completing my degree at Brevard College has afforded me the opportunity to reflect on my personal growth both in my field and within myself," Mahoney said.

He added that he intends to stay involved with the college and the Criminal Justice Program.

Tiela Smith, from Pine Bush, N.Y., was one of the two student commencement speakers. Smith, also a criminal justice major, kept her GPA high while volunteering extensively.

"Brevard College has helped us to soar into the world of the post-college experience," Smith said in her speech, comparing students to butterflies, and explaining the transformation students make during their time at Brevard.

A prime example of the college helping students soar happened this year at the Southeastern Theatre Conference. Seventeen Brevard College fine arts students received summer employment opportunities from this experience, including graduates Josh Goldstein, Logan Taylor and Alex Webster.

Webster accepted an internship as marketing director for the Brevard Music Center this summer, and in the fall will head to Texas Tech University for an MFA in performance and pedagogy. Taylor will begin full-time work this summer as the lighting designer for Steep Canyon Rangers, and Goldstein was accepted into the Disney College Intern program.

"We may have walked different paths with different majors, but we have all shared one journey," said Kate Brandhuber, a business and organizational leadership major and environmental studies minor from Dothan, Ala., in her speech. "Brevard has given us all a unique opportunity to learn from experience, which is such an advantage in a world that does not run on standardized testing."

Her speech highlighted the experiential benefits of every academic major offered by Brevard College.

During her time at Brevard, Brandhuber was president of BC Greens, the college's environmental club, a senator with the Student Government Association and a member of the Institute for Women in Leadership.

Several students received awards during the ceremony. The Presidential Award for Scholarship, given each year to the graduating senior with the highest academic rank, was awarded to Brice Molton, a criminal justice major with a GPA of 3.983. Molton recently accepted a job as a special agent with the North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement.

Natalie Green received the C. Edward and Brona N. Roy Good Citizenship Award.

The award is given to a student who shows exemplary moral character, citizenship, leadership and is a positive influence on campus.

Green is a history major from Johnson City, Tenn., who decided to stay at her alma mater and work as the college's campus visit coordinator.

Savannah Cox, a psychology major and member of the Institute for Women in Leadership who carried the Christian flag Saturday; Madison Lenox, a business and organizational leadership major and Female Athlete of the Year; and Aleksandra Vrvilo, a health science major and volleyball defensive specialist, received the Presidential Awards for Distinction, which are given to three students who demonstrated leadership, service and academic achievement.

In his closing charge to graduates, Joyce reminded students of the definition of "alma mater" as "foster mother."

In his traditional charge to graduates, Joyce told students the most important skill they have mastered is the ability to learn how to learn and that as life accelerates they must learn how to grow, adapt and adopt.

He asked them to keep in touch, and visit often.

Derek McKissock

College President David Joyce (left) congratulates Sheriff David Mahoney after the commencement exercise.

"You will forever be a part of the Brevard College family," Joyce said.

Brevard College, a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1853, is the longest ongoing private institution in Brevard.

The college's 141 full-time staff and 50 full-time faculty serve more than 700 students each year.

"Your education does not end here," Joyce said, right before senior voice major Katie Smathers led the crowd of parents and students in the official and fitting Brevard College hymn, "Guarded Well by Mountains." "Live your life to the fullest. Be open to its opportunities. God bless you all in your endeavors!"


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