For its 127th session, Lipscomb University celebrated its newest graduates by awarding over 800 degrees, including the first contemporary music degree, in Allen Arena on Saturday afternoon.

President Randy Lowry awarded the students with their diplomas and recognized three exceptional students who were graduating: Presley Russell, Tammy Brown and Jazgul Orozova.

“Something happens in our lives and we’re touched; we’re motivated, and you just take the initiative to do it,” Lowry said, referring to these special graduates.

Orozova, a graduating student who grew up in an orphanage in Moldova, penned a letter, which Lowry read on stage during the ceremony.

“For four years, Lipscomb wasn’t just a place I would go to class and chapel; Lipscomb has become my home and my family,” Orozova wrote. “I was welcomed into this community by people who have walked with me, prayed with me and mentored me. I want to go back to Moldova and invest back . . . I want to work with children who think they cannot achieve great things in life because they do not have a mom or a dad.

“I want to thank my Lipscomb and Nashville family for giving me a place to belong, a place to learn and grow, to be equipped and to mark this world in my own way.”

In addition to these three graduates, Caleb Heronimus, a Management: Entrepreneurship major, received the Stephen Lee Marsh Christian Example Award. The award is presented to the “senior student who plans to pursue a secular vocation and whose Christ-like spirit and behavior while a student at Lipscomb has demonstrated a propensity to continue throughout life to be a light to the world, a servant to humanity, a worker in the church, devoted to family and a herald of his or her faith.”

Three professors received “Outstanding Teacher Awards” — Leanne W. Smith, assistant professor of management, Walter Surdacki, associate professor of Bible, and Kate Watkins, assistant professor of professional studies. In addition, Elisabeth Conway, associate professor of biology, was awarded the John William Baker Award.

In honor of the Lipscomb Bisons men’s basketball team’s historic run to the NCAA tournament, head men’s basketball coach Casey Alexander gave the professional charge.

“I really hope you can look back and appreciate the journey that brought you to this place,” Alexander said. “In athletics, we are more likely to call that a ‘process.’ The process is simply doing your best everyday, walking through everyday, trying to do whatever it is that you are striving to accomplish all along. The truth is, it is that process — it’s not the result at all — where you really learn, and you really grow, and you really become what God intended you to be.”

President Lowry continued with some final remarks to the graduating class.

“Our job is to increase the value of your degree . . . we hope that everyday you’re out there, the value of your degree increases. In the four years you’ve been here — goodness — we’ve been moved from a regional masters university to a national research university; we’ve passed every single accreditation, the largest one without a single recommendation. You’ve seen the campus under construction; you recognize that good things are coming. Just two weeks ago, we announced the largest gift in university history,” Lowry said.

“Our job is to increase the value of your degree,” Lowry continued. “Your job? Your job is very, very simple — to take what you know, and go do it.”

Photos by author

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