MOBILE, Ala. – University of Mobile President Timothy L. Smith urged graduates to embrace God’s calling upon their lives as more than 3,500 people gathered on the Christian university’s campus for commencement ceremonies May 13.
The university held graduation on campus for the first time in 41 years in an historic ceremony that welcomed members of the first graduating class of 1967 and launched a new tradition.
“I pray that as you travel the world serving the many different venues of your life, you remain focused on Christ,” Smith told graduates. “Allow Christ to lead your thoughts and actions in reshaping the world in accordance to His calling on your life.
“You will never have to worry about going at this alone because, if you fulfill the Great Commission calling in your life in accordance to His will, we are reminded in the last few words of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:20 that He will be with you always and to the end of the age,” the university president said.
More than 3,000 chairs placed on the just-completed Lackey Great Commission Lawn were filled as family and friends arrived, then it was standing room only beneath live oak trees framing the lawn. As graduates processed out after the ceremony, they touched the new Great Commission Globe fountain in the center of the lawn. This new tradition signifies graduates’ commitment to serve others and spread the message and love of Jesus Christ as they fulfill their professional calling in the world.
University of Mobile presented its two top awards to graduates who exemplify the mission of the university. The Weaver awards are given to the top male and female graduating students and are chosen by vote of the faculty. Selection is based on scholarship, Christian character, leadership and service.
The 2017 Annie Boyd Parker Weaver Excellence Award was presented to Kelli Rae Brown of Jasper, Ala. Brown received the Bachelor of Science in biology in the College of Arts and Sciences. She was also awarded the College of Arts and Sciences Achievement Award, the area award in biology, graduated summa cum laude and was an Honors graduate with thesis.
In presenting the award, UM Board of Trustees Chair Deborah Nelson said Brown is described by her professors “as having a passion for science, a tremendous work ethic, and a breadth of knowledge in the liberal arts that few can match.”
Brown was also praised for her work as a science tutor and peer leader who freely gives of her time to help others learn. A science professor described her as “one of the kindest and most generous human beings,” Nelson said.
The 2017 William K. Weaver Jr. Excellence Award was presented to Joshua Thomas Hill of Huntsville, Ala. Hill received the Bachelor of Science in worship leadership in the Alabama School of the Arts.
Nelson said faculty described Hill as “a young intellectual who is one of the finest scholarly musicians we have ever had the experience of educating at University of Mobile.”
Faculty noted Hill is extremely successful as both an instrumentalist and vocalist, travels with RamCorps and Voices of Mobile, is a student arranger, Jazz Band vocalist, song writer and composer, worship leader, and also serves as worship associate at Government Street Baptist Church in Mobile.