CIRCLEVILLE - Ohio Christian University conducted its 65th commencement on Saturday, May 2, with a record graduation of 708 students. Last year, 517 students were graduated. The commencement speaker this year was former U.S. Congresswoman and former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann.
The first students of OCU's Bachelor of Science in Nursing completion program graduated at this commencement. Additionally, three high school students enrolled in the post-secondary enrollment option/dual enrollment program graduated with associate of arts degrees. These graduates were Evan McDonald, Logan Elm High School; Anna Shappert, Ohio Virtual Academy; and Mykal Shupe, Warren High School.
Eighty-four of the 708 graduates were from the traditional program, which consists primarily of semester long classes, taught in the day. The other graduates participated in the adult and graduate studies program taught primarily during the evening or online. The average age of the students graduating from the traditional program was 23 with a range of 17 to 51. The average age of the students graduating from the adult program was 42 with a range of 18 to 71.
Bachmann represented Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District in the U.S House of Representatives from 2007 to 2014 and was a presidential candidate in 2012. Bachmann also served in the Minnesota State Senate from 2000 to 2006. Before holding elected office, she worked on hundreds of civil and criminal cases as a federal tax litigation attorney. She and her husband, Marcus, reside in Stillwater, Minnesota, where they own a successful health care practice that employs almost 40 people.
"The world is about to be amazed at what God is about to do through you!" Bachmann told graduates on Saturday. "God is the audience for the song of your life. He requires of you that you know Him. That you love Him, with your whole heart, mind and strength. That you serve Him and obey Him. As important and powerful as your new college degree is, and it is that and more, your eternal destiny is more powerful still."
Bachmann concluded by saying, "We have Ohio Christian University to thank for intentionally, purposely, tirelessly instilling in these proud graduates, the eternal truths of the life changing gospel of Jesus Christ."
OCU recognized Bachmann for her life of distinguished Christian service by awarding her a Doctorate of Christian Leadership.
"Circleville is extremely fortunate to attract a speaker as distinguished as Congresswoman Bachmann," said Dr. Mark Smith, president of OCU.
Andrew DeMint of Circleville and Natasha Hudnell of Lancaster were the co-honor graduates for the traditional program. The honor graduate for the adult and graduate studies program was Harry Cox of Columbus. Honor graduates represent all the ideals of Ohio Christian University and are elected by the faculty. These graduates must have distinguished themselves in academic achievement, Christian service and leadership potential.
"We are very proud of our graduates and expect them to accomplish much in life," Smith said. "It is a privilege to work with faculty and staff who are dedicated to investing in students' lives. OCU is thrilled to serve this community and increase the baccalaureate completion rate."
Reverend Jack Norman of Chillicothe was also awarded a Doctorate of Christian Leadership. Norman has served in ministry since 1957 and founded the Brookside Church in Chillicothe in 1973. He also served as a district superintendent for the Churches of Christ in Christian Union for 10 years. Norman recently retired as the senior adult pastor of Brookside Church.
The following local students graduated from OCU on Saturday:
Associate of Arts degree: Ruth Van Sandt, Evan McDonald, Megan Morrison, Theresia Adams, Shelly Bissell, Mary Daniels, Cathy Haddox, Taylor King, Mindy Leach, Melinda Lowery, Eric McIntyre, Kyle Scholz, Rondah Stepp and Erica Theller.
Bachelor of Arts degree: Kaitlin Alfrey, Rachel Bishop, Phillip DeMint, Kendra Egenrider, Michael Fortell, Matthew Merringer, Elizabeth Merringer, Hassan Roberts, Brooke Grow, Helena Marfell, Calee Febes, Dustin Hube, Katie Simms, Sara Cordell, Rachel Briggs, Kyle Landenberger, Aaron Kratz, Mary Adams, Christopher Anderson, Rachel Buskirk, Phillip Cook, Brandi Cradlebaugh, Lisa Dinkins, William Dinkins, Natalie Krouse, Pamela Mount, Jeffrey Mullins, Michael Scherer, Trina Spangler, Amber Spencer, Loretta Spencer, Michael Taylor, Skyler Tumbleson and Beth Wright.
Master of Arts in Ministry degree: DeVon Davis and Luke Pollock.
Master of Business Administration degree: Ashlee Dickson, Allysa Hall, Courtney Holdren, Jerahn Hyman and Reece Sorley.
Master of Management degree: Travis Blanton and Stephanie Sgamba.
Ohio Christian University is one of the fastest growing universities in Ohio with a current enrollment of more than 4,000. With a heritage dating back to 1948, Ohio Christian University offers a complete education that develops students intellectually, professionally and spiritually.
OCU offers degree programs designed to equip students to become leaders in their careers, communities, families and in the world. Students enrolled in OCU's traditional undergraduate program attend classes at its main campus in Circleville, Ohio. OCU's adult and graduate studies program offers 14 campus locations in the surrounding region as well as online degree programs.
For more information about Ohio Christian University, check out its website at www.ohiochristian.edu.