Lipscomb University celebrated its 2017 graduating class by giving 545 undergraduate degrees to students on Saturday afternoon in Allen Arena.

President Randy Lowry awarded the students with their diplomas and recognized five exceptional students who walked across the stage.

“I think in trying to describe this moment, it’s truly best described by some of you,” Lowry said. “Everyone of you has a story. A good story. A profound story. For some of you, they’re inspirational stories, and I want to share just some of them — those in your class who give all a sense of what you bring and what you will take from this university.”

Graduate Macy Cottrell was one of these students, recognized for receiving both her masters and undergraduate degrees from Lipscomb on the same day — and actually her masters degree first due to the timing of the ceremonies. Cottrell will be studying at Oxford next year.

Next, Lowry recognized Egyptian immigrant Mark Naguib, who scored in the top 1% nationally on the MCAT and will be attending Vanderbilt University Medical School on a full tuition scholarship.

Lowry also applauded Jacky Gomez, who, after graduating high school was “what back then we would call undocumented” — came to Lipscomb and served as President of Lipscomb’s Latino organization, has been a Lipscomb Presidential Ambassador and served on the Quest Team, all while working over 30 hours per week during her college years. Gomez represents nearly 200 Latino Hispanic students at Lipscomb.

“Some students served before they came,” Lowry said, “and now we are especially privileged to serve them.”

Before coming to college, Sergeant Bryan Flanery first joined the United States Army to serve his country and was deployed to Afghanistan, where he was seriously wounded. Flanery then came to Lipscomb, where he was selected to lead as the Veteran Services Outreach Coordinator and was the 2015 National Business Journal Veteran.

The fifth exceptional student Lowry recognized was graduate Anna Cannone. Cannone told her story last month in a “Gathering” chapel service, and Lowry once again shared her story of dealing with a serious eye condition which has required multiple surgeries and treatments. Lowry noted the courage and leadership she brought to Lipscomb during her college career.

Before introducing her, Lowry read something Cannone had once written:

“I don’t let this disease which caused many tumors, migraines, back pains and visual problems to consume or identify me. I don’t. It is simply the platform instead of the pain I was given to be able to share my story of hope.”

Health and Physical Education Teaching major Addison Groves received the Stephen Lee Marsh Christian Example Award, which is given each year to one student who plans to pursue a secular vocation yet has shown a Christlike spirit during his time at Lipscomb and will continue to show this “light.” The award is given in honor of the late Stephen Lee Marsh, a 1977 Lipscomb graduate.

Three professors received “Outstanding Teacher Awards” — Lee Camp, Professor of Bible, Elisabeth Conway, Associate Professor of Biology, and Ruth Henry, Professor of Exercise Science.

Christin Shatzer, Director of Service Learning commended 24 students as Salt Scholars who completed a capstone service-learning project.

For his closing remarks to the graduating class, Lowry spoke of what it means to be a Lipscomb alum.

“The reality is that we, as this group, will never gather together again,” Lowry said. “But you will go out as a Bison and join the other 35,000 Bison who are out there. You will run into them literally all over the world, and I want you to know that as you do that, you will take the spirit of this community with you, and you will meet the spirit of this community as you find your fellow alums wherever they might be.”


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