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CLASS OF 2022

Barton celebrates 255 graduates

College holds 120th commencement

Posted on May 14, 2022

Updated on May 16, 2022

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Ashton Paige Williams of Zebulon receives a gift from Amy Denton, the Barton Alumni Association’s rising president. Williams graduated with a Master of Science in criminology and criminal justice sciences.

Janelle Clevinger | Special to the Times

Ashton Paige Williams of Zebulon receives a gift from Amy Denton, the Barton Alumni Association’s rising president. Williams graduated with a Master of Science in criminology and criminal justice sciences.

J. Eric Boyette, secretary of the N.C. Department of Public Transportation and a 1994 Barton College graduate, delivers the commencement address at the college’s 120th graduation ceremony Saturday morning.

Janelle Clevinger | Special to the Times

J. Eric Boyette, secretary of the N.C. Department of Public Transportation and a 1994 Barton College graduate, delivers the commencement address at the college’s 120th graduation ceremony Saturday morning.

Barton students walk to their seats for Saturday’s graduation ceremony.

Janelle Clevinger | Special to the Times

Barton students walk to their seats for Saturday’s graduation ceremony.

Deshawn McFadden celebrates during Barton College’s graduation ceremony Saturday morning while Nate McKenrick, left, waits his turn on stage.

Janelle Clevinger | Special to the Times

Deshawn McFadden celebrates during Barton College’s graduation ceremony Saturday morning while Nate McKenrick, left, waits his turn on stage.

Barton College employees hustle to set up 500 additional chairs for graduates’ friends and families after the original 2,500 chairs were filled before Saturday’s commencement began.

Janelle Clevinger | Special to the Times

Barton College employees hustle to set up 500 additional chairs for graduates’ friends and families after the original 2,500 chairs were filled before Saturday’s commencement began.

De’Angelo Monteis Williams of Dunn checks in with Barton College staff before graduation exercises begin to make sure his name and degrees are listed correctly. Williams graduated Saturday with an Master of Business Administration in strategic leadership and a Bachelor of Science in business administration.

Janelle Clevinger | Special to the Times

De’Angelo Monteis Williams of Dunn checks in with Barton College staff before graduation exercises begin to make sure his name and degrees are listed correctly. Williams graduated Saturday with an Master of Business Administration in strategic leadership and a Bachelor of Science in business administration.

Kelly O’Sullivan, Barton senior class president, addresses her fellow 2022 graduates. O’Sullivan received the Coggins Cup, an award presented to the student voted best all-around by the Barton faculty and staff.

Janelle Clevinger | Special to the Times

Kelly O’Sullivan, Barton senior class president, addresses her fellow 2022 graduates. O’Sullivan received the Coggins Cup, an award presented to the student voted best all-around by the Barton faculty and staff.

Ashton Paige Williams of Zebulon receives a gift from Amy Denton, the Barton Alumni Association’s rising president. Williams graduated with a Master of Science in criminology and criminal justice sciences.

Janelle Clevinger | Special to the Times

Ashton Paige Williams of Zebulon receives a gift from Amy Denton, the Barton Alumni Association’s rising president. Williams graduated with a Master of Science in criminology and criminal justice sciences.

J. Eric Boyette, secretary of the N.C. Department of Public Transportation and a 1994 Barton College graduate, delivers the commencement address at the college’s 120th graduation ceremony Saturday morning.

Janelle Clevinger | Special to the Times

J. Eric Boyette, secretary of the N.C. Department of Public Transportation and a 1994 Barton College graduate, delivers the commencement address at the college’s 120th graduation ceremony Saturday morning.

J. Eric Boyette, secretary of the N.C. Department of Public Transportation and a 1994 Barton College graduate, delivers the commencement address at the college’s 120th graduation ceremony Saturday morning.
Barton students walk to their seats for Saturday’s graduation ceremony.
Deshawn McFadden celebrates during Barton College’s graduation ceremony Saturday morning while Nate McKenrick, left, waits his turn on stage.
Barton College employees hustle to set up 500 additional chairs for graduates’ friends and families after the original 2,500 chairs were filled before Saturday’s commencement began.
De’Angelo Monteis Williams of Dunn checks in with Barton College staff before graduation exercises begin to make sure his name and degrees are listed correctly. Williams graduated Saturday with an Master of Business Administration in strategic leadership and a Bachelor of Science in business administration.
Kelly O’Sullivan, Barton senior class president, addresses her fellow 2022 graduates. O’Sullivan received the Coggins Cup, an award presented to the student voted best all-around by the Barton faculty and staff.
Ashton Paige Williams of Zebulon receives a gift from Amy Denton, the Barton Alumni Association’s rising president. Williams graduated with a Master of Science in criminology and criminal justice sciences.

Special to the Times

The Kinsey Bell rang 120 times Saturday morning, signaling the start of Barton College’s 120th commencement exercises.

Blue skies and a light breeze greeted graduates and their guests instead of the predicted rain. Barton staff hurried to set up 500 extra chairs for guests, as the original 2,500 chairs placed on the college’s central campus area proved not to be enough as the 10:30 a.m. ceremony neared its start.

“God has blessed us with this good weather,” said Kathy Daughety, Barton’s director of public relations. “I believe it with all my heart.”

The class of 2022 boasted 255 graduates, with 46 earning master’s degrees. They represented 135 cities, 23 states and eight countries.

Barton College President Doug Searcy greeted the graduates and guests before announcing student and faculty awards.

“Today we celebrate the search for meaning and truth,” Searcy said. “We celebrate the learning that has occurred as a result of intellectual discourse between our faculty and our students. Over these past few years, there has been a great process of learning that has occurred at Barton. Knowledge has been obtained, eyes have been opened to new ways of thinking and a passion has been fueled in our students for the pursuit of meaningful work and service.”

“We often learn that helping others to be their very best — by sharing ideas, by listening to others — that through that, we become the best versions of ourselves,” Searcy continued. “We learn more. We are able to accomplish our own goals, and as a result, we strengthen the community in which we live and work. And the bottom line is, at Barton College — and I believe you would agree with me — that people matter. So we ask that you carry this deep sense of conviction with you that anything is possible through community and through relationships.”

STUDENTS, FACULTY RECEIVE AWARDS

Searcy presented the Lincoln Financial Excellence in Teaching Fund Faculty Members of the Year awards to Chelsie A. Batten, associate professor of mathematics and director of the Quantitative Literacy Center and Tamara Avant, dean of the school of sciences and professor of psychology. These awards acknowledge teaching excellence in the classroom and faculty commitment to student success.

Kevin Pennington, vice president for academic affairs, presented the three highest student honors.

Austin Thomas Hicks of Zebulon received the Hilley Cup, presented to the graduating senior with the highest cumulative grade point average. Hicks graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history.

Kelly Siobhan O’Sullivan of Elk Grove Village, Illinois, who graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in gerontology, earned the Coggins Cup. The honor is presented to the student voted best all-around by the Barton faculty and staff.

The Hemby Leadership Cup, presented to the graduating senior who, in the estimation of college students, faculty and staff, has demonstrated outstanding leadership throughout a career at Barton College, was awarded this year to two students: Jasmine Renee Keller of Clermont, Florida, who graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science and in sport management, and Leslie Rose Wellendorf of East Canton, Ohio, who graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree in nursing.

VERSATILITY NECESSARY FOR NEW CHALLENGES

J. Eric Boyette, secretary of the N.C. Department of Transportation and a 1994 Barton College graduate, presented the 2022 commencement address.

Gov. Roy Cooper named Boyette to his current post in February 2020.

Boyette had the unusual experience of being a freshman on the Barton campus when his mother, Edith Boyette, was a senior. Edith Boyette had gone back to school to continue her education and went on to become a teacher. She and Boyette’s father, Ronnie Boyette, were in Saturday’s commencement crowd.

“She knows, like I know and like you have no doubt learned over the past few years, that Barton is a special place,” Boyette said. “Being a fairly small school, you know many of your classmates and get to experience closer relationships with your professors. This was such an advantage for me as I gained a Bachelor of Science in business administration. I always felt I could go to any teacher or adviser to help.”

Boyette said he worked many types of jobs within North Carolina government before becoming transportation secretary, but state government work had always interested him.

“State government won me over because of the ability to impact people’s life on a daily basis,” Boyette said. “Just like one of Barton’s core principles, ‘We serve the greater good.’”

But Boyette said versatility is also something he learned at Barton and feels that it’s necessary in order to take on new challenges.

“You have to accept challenge,” Boyette said. “You have to run with it and have fun. And continue to have fun. Challenge yourself, but enjoy what you’re doing.”

Boyette mentioned the struggles of attending college during a pandemic.

“You all had to deal with a challenge that didn’t exist when most of us were in college — a pandemic,” Boyette said, “I am glad to see you all get to end on a high note, with much more normalcy. But maintain that level of perseverance. It will help you to be bold in your own professional choices.”

Boyette closed his commencement address asking the graduates to remember three words.

“Never stop learning,” Boyette said. “I know you’re saying today, ‘I graduated. Now I’m done,’ but continue to look for opportunities to learn. You are just now getting going, but you never stop learning as you advance forward through your career path.”

“As I leave you, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that we have nearly 200 job openings at NCDOT,” Boyette said, drawing applause and laughter from the audience. “If you too are into public service, come check us out.”

Boyette is a Kenly native, where he lives with wife Dana, son Jay and daughter Morgan and serves on the board for the Kenly Volunteer Fire Department.

‘JUST BE BOLD’

Senior class president Kelly Siobhan O’Sullivan addressed her fellow 2022 graduates.

“Barton has been an amazing place for me,” said O’Sullivan, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in gerontology. “I have had professors, especially my adviser, Dr. (Steven) Fulks, who have taken a personal interest in my academic career and helped me every step along the way. Through the honors program, I have had the unique opportunity to do individual research projects and present my work at conferences as an undergraduate student. It was through this research that I discovered I have a passion for research and teaching, and now I am going to pursue a Ph.D and career in higher education. This was never a future I imagined or even thought possible for myself until professors like Dr. Fulks and Dr. (Gerard) Lange pushed me to believe so.”

O’Sullivan emphasized that her ability to be her unique self at Barton helped her during her path toward graduation.

“Be yourself all the time,” O’Sullivan said. “Just because something is deemed not normal does not mean you shouldn’t do it. There is no point to living a life that is just doing what you are ‘supposed’ to be doing. Why blend in when you can stand out? Do whatever makes you happy and don’t worry about societal expectations and standards. Push boundaries, be unique and be yourself. Just be bold.”

“We all came here to get an education, so we could get a job, so we could live comfortably,” O’Sullivan continued. “And that’s great, but there’s so much more to life than that. Success is wonderful, but it’s not everything. We owe it to ourselves to live full lives and to truly enjoy them. We owe it to ourselves to be kind to others and love deeply and have fun. We owe it to ourselves to not take life so seriously. And we owe it to everyone who has helped us to get here to take full advantage of our opportunities and get the most out of all of it.”

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