MVNU Service above Self awards 2021 grad

Matias Malkamaki, left, and Lauren Klopfenstein received the Service Above Self Award at Mount Vernon Nazarene University's 2021 commencement ceremonies.

MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon Nazarene University applauded the hard work and tenacity of 540 graduates during the university’s 51st commencement on April 24 and 25.

“It has been a joy for us to walk with you over the years. I am especially happy for you because you have endured so much to get to this day,” said President Henry W. Spaulding II, Ph.D. “On this day, let us pause and thank God for His gracious providence. We should also pause to thank those who supported us through the years, especially the last two years.”

Traditional graduates were presented their diplomas throughout four ceremonies on Saturday, April 24, while those in the Graduate and Professional Studies program were lauded in two ceremonies on Sunday, April 25. Smaller-capacity ceremonies allowed the return to in-person commencement in the R.R. Hodges Chapel/Auditorium amid strict COVID-19 protocols.

Graduates were encouraged to Shine Forth in the world while stepping out of their comfort zone and trusting in the Lord for guidance and protection. Among the highlighted speakers, Dr. Dora Hawthorne, associate professor of English, challenged the graduates.

“Don’t wait for the paved sidewalk, the clearly lit path. Try something. Jump in even if it’s not quite what you expected, even if you were hoping for white water rapids and you got the shallow end,” she said. “It will strengthen your swimming, your sense of adventure, and humor, and your capacity to cooperate with God. And as you swim, trusting in the One who upholds you in the water, even when the waves are high, your wake will emerge bright behind you.”

Matias Malkamaki and Lauren Klopfenstein were presented the Service Above Self Award from a list of nominees that included Ean See and Malkamaki, School of Natural and Social Sciences; Katie Doll and Luke Couchman, School of Christian Ministries; Brianna Chenevey, Jetter School of Professional Studies; Jake Friday and Chloe Davis, School of Arts and Humanities; and Salena (Alexander) Lehman and Jonah Barnett, School of Nursing.

The award recognizes graduates for their demonstration of leadership in academic and extracurricular activities and exemplary service to the university, church and community.

Graduates of MVNU’s Graduate and Professional Students program who gathered to share in their accomplishments were encouraged to push themselves not only in their careers, but to be advocates for social justice.

“While this educational chapter has come to an end, I would like you to reflect for just one moment on the discovery of wisdom and truth that your journey here at MVNU has offered and consider every hill, every mountain that you have had to climb to be here today,” said Dr. Shantelle K. Jenkins, associate vice president for the School of Graduate and Professional Studies. “Will you strive to reach a higher self, will you accept who you are, will you seek truth and confront darkness, or will you become complicit and squander your gifting while you wear your crown?”

Commencement ceremonies are available for viewing on demand at mvnu.tv.

To learn more about traditional and adult programs at MVNU, visit mvnu.edu.

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