Graduates of the Hesston College Class of 2019 were sent into their go everywhere journeys with charges to show love and compassion and make a difference in the world during commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 18.
Due to construction in Yost Center, the typical Hesston College graduation location, commencement was held in two separate ceremonies in Hesston Mennonite Church – one for Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) graduates and one for associate degree graduates.
President Joseph A. Manickam conferred 39 B.S.N. degrees in a morning ceremony that also included the traditional pinning ceremony.
Emeritus faculty member and former director of the nursing program, Bonnie Sowers, M.S., R.N., addressed B.S.N. graduates with a message entitled, “Now I Know for Sure,” based on scripture from I Corinthians 13:1-3, and encouraging graduates to perform their work with knowledge and heart.
Sowers reflected on the last year of her unexpected journey in caring for her husband, Floyd, who suffered a stroke last May. Just as Bonnie retired from Hesston College and was planning for a retirement of travel and relaxation, Floyd’s stroke changed all her plans.
“It was at that moment I learned emotional competency,” said Sowers. “I remember learning these concepts as a student, practicing them as a nurse and teaching them to students like you at Hesston College. I learned them, I practiced them, I taught them. And now I know for sure, after experiencing the healthcare system as a family member, that nurses must have both knowledge and heart – not just one, but both – in order for the patients and their families to become whole again.”
Nursing graduate representatives Saralyn Murray Oyer (Hesston) and Vanessa Steckly (Milford, Neb.) were selected as student speakers to reflect on the class’ journey through the nursing program.
Stanley W. Green, executive director for Mennonite Mission Network, presented the commencement address, “Seeing what’s New – Perceiving what Matters,” to 105 associate degree graduates in an evening ceremony. The message was based on the college’s theme verse for the 2018-19 year, Isaiah 43:19.
“Graduates, if you are ever to achieve your full humanity and greatest potential on the road ahead, it will not be guaranteed by your diploma on the wall, it will be the result of your willingness to embrace the spirit of service and self-giving love demonstrated by Jesus,” said Green. “Our God is a God of a new thing. God’s new thing was most fully demonstrated in Jesus, who revealed to us what the full measure of our humanity looks like by showing compassion, and kindness to the poor and vulnerable. By feeding the hungry. By healing the sick and welcoming the stranger. Choose to enjoy and pay attention to the world that God delights to share with us. It will make you an immeasurable richer person.”
Two students, Will Gaby (Goshen, Ind.) and Cassidy King (Cochranville, Pa.) were nominated by faculty and staff and voted by their classmates as the graduate speakers to reflect on their Hesston Experience.
Other Commencement Weekend events included a recognition ceremony for students completing the Disaster Management Program, and a reception in honor of the graduates earning an associate of applied arts and sciences degree in aviation-professional pilot.