A weekend full of rehearsals, recitals and receptions came to fruition Saturday, May 13, at the Hesston Mennonite Church where Hesston College graduates received their diplomas and took pictures with president Dr. Joseph A. Manickam.
Hesston College’s 113th commencement ceremony featured an address titled “Living in God’s Love,” given by Riccardo Harris, executive director of Wichita GEAR UP at Wichita State University, where he reflected on a childhood experience that highlighted the importance of community and loving others.
“My childhood memories of my neighborhood helped me to appreciate neighbors, and how we were all there to support, encourage and help one another. Even though we all lived our own lives, in our own homes, we were interdependent. We all had a part to play in our community,” Harris explained. “As you enter the world beyond Hesston College, I encourage you to make love the foundation of your interactions…. Make it the standard by which you measure your impact and success in the world. When you approach the world with love, you bring light in the dark places and create the possibility for change.”
The prayer of invocation was delivered by Jim and Kathy Yoder, parents of graduate Tobias Yoder (Harrisonburg, Va.). Two students, Loribeth Miller (Chouteau, Okla.) and Kara Longenecker (Harrisonburg, Va.), were nominated by faculty and staff and voted by their classmates as the graduate speakers to reflect on the Hesston Experience.
Miller spoke of examples she had of professors, coaches and the president who helped her realize not just what she wants to be, but who she wants to be. “That person is someone who is a servant leader and glorifies God in all aspects of life,” she said.
Longenecker likened Hesston College to a character in the latest chapter of the graduates’ personal stories, saying, “I hope we can continue moving forward, writing our stories with meaning, truth and courage. Taking what we’ve learned here, with the degrees we will soon have in our hands, to make an impact.”
President Joseph A. Manickam, Ph.D., conferred 33 Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees, seven Bachelor of Arts degrees in business management, a Bachelor of Science degree to a student majoring in Aviation – Professional Pilot and 59 associate degrees. The graduating class of 2023 includes members from 12 different countries, U.S. territories and sovereign nations.
The seven business management graduates are the first cohort to graduate from Hesston College with this newly offered degree. They were honored Saturday night with a reception in Kropf Center.
The 33 nursing program graduates were honored at a Nursing Pinning ceremony in the sanctuary of Hesston Mennonite Church on the morning of May 13. Graduates received their nursing pins as well as the traditional blessing of hands from Hesston College nursing faculty.
The School of Aviation also hosted an open house Saturday afternoon at the Hesston College hangar in celebration of their students graduating with bachelor’s and associate degrees.
Other commencement weekend events included several music recitals and a theatre showcase. Bel Canto Singers also presented the kickoff concert to their summer tour Friday evening in the sanctuary of Hesston Mennonite Church.