Ouachita recognizes Mississippi graduates during Commencement exercises May 13
Published 9:12 am Friday, May 26, 2023
ARKADELPHIA, Ark. — Ouachita Baptist University honored more than 400 students during its 136th Spring Commencement on Saturday, May 13, on the front lawn of Cone-Bottoms Hall. Graduates earned Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Music Education and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees, as well as Master of Science degrees, post-baccalaureate certificates for Dietetic Internship and the university’s first Master of Education degrees in curriculum & instruction and Master of Science degrees in nutrition.
In keeping with Ouachita tradition, the Commencement address was delivered by Dr. Ben Sells, Ouachita president, who also led Commencement exercises. He encouraged graduates to know the importance of humility, foster character and nourish hope in pursuit of the goal of being lifelong learners.
“I believe you are more likely to flourish and excel in every area of life if you commit to be a learner no matter how much you come to know,” said Sells. “Knowers, assuming they have arrived, draw only on what they have learned. Learners, on the other hand, never stop learning. They continue to adjust, adapt and add to their advantages.
“Based on what your predecessors report, your Ouachita education and experience have prepared you exceedingly well,” he added. “The investment in you by faculty and staff, the support of your family and classmates, the time and effort you have put forward and the grace of God help you go from this place with an advantage. The better you steward it, the more opportunity it will provide.”
Students recognized during the ceremony included those who completed their degree requirements in August 2022, December 2022 and May 2023. Collectively, they earned the highest number of degrees conferred by Ouachita in more than 40 years. Of 187 honor graduates, 30 achieved a 4.0 GPA.
Candidates for graduation were presented by Dr. Justin Hardin, vice president for academic affairs. Dr. Jim Files, associate professor of accounting and chair of the university committee, served as Commencement marshal. Honorary marshals were retiring faculty members Janice Ford, professor emerita of library services; Dr. Ray Franklin, professor emeritus of Christian missions; Dr. Timothy E. Hayes, professor emeritus of chemistry; and Dr. Michael E. Reynolds, professor emeritus of kinesiology.
Senior Class President Kallen Smith, a biomedical sciences major from Jonesboro, Ark., delivered the invocation. Scripture was read by Mason Campbell, a Christian studies/biblical studies & theology major from Hinton, W.V.; Ashton Hurst, a psychology and Christian studies/biblical studies & theology double major from Van Buren, Ark.; Alex Moore, a philosophy & English double major from Gulfport, Miss.; Angela Staats, a Christian studies/Christian missions major from Oklahoma City, Okla.; Hannah Tullos, a Christian studies/biblical studies & theology major from Paris, Texas; and Wade Wilson, a Christian studies/biblical studies & theology major from Springdale, Ark. All were students in the Pruet School of Christian Studies.
Sells conferred degrees upon the graduates, including an honorary degree conferred posthumously upon Clark Yarbrough, a senior from Rowlett, Texas, who died unexpectedly in the fall. He also recognized four graduates who were commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army: Chase Howerton, a nutrition & dietetics and military science double major from Rockwall, Texas; Trey Lamb, a biology major from Austin, Ark.; Joe Ragsdell, a kinesiology/recreation & sports administration major from Columbia, Mo.; and Alex Thyes, a business administration/entrepreneurship major from Conroe, Texas.
Ouachita Baptist University, a private liberal arts university in Arkadelphia, Ark., is in its 137th year as a Christ-centered learning community and is ranked nationally by U.S. News & World Report. Learn more about the university’s highly personal approach, reflected in a student/faculty ratio of 13:1, at obu.edu.
Ouachita’s Mississippi candidates for graduation, in order of hometown, are:
Gulfport, Miss. – Alex Moore graduated summa cum laude May 2023 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and English.
Houlka, Miss. – Ma’Darius Hobson graduated May 2023 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications & media/integrated communications and kinesiology & leisure studies/recreation & sports administration.
Madison, Miss. – Hannah Rossell graduated summa cum laude May 2023 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication sciences & disorders.
Meridian, Miss. – Erica Gaddie graduated May 2023 with a post-baccalaureate certificate in dietetic internship.
Poplarville, Miss. – JaMerrick Waller graduated August 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in kinesiology & leisure studies/recreation and sports administration.
Senatobia, Miss. – Levi Dade graduated May 2023 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian studies/biblical studies & theology.