Commencement Crowns Excellent Year For CMU

The ultimate celebration for students at Central Methodist University occurred on Saturday, May 12, when 411 students graduated on the Fayette campus. Students earned master’s, bachelor’s, and associate degrees from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in Fayette and the College of Graduate and Extended Studies across the state and online.
The day began with the traditional Baccalaureate ceremony in Linn Memorial United Methodist Church. Students filed down to the end of the southwest corner of campus, then stopped and clapped the faculty and staff through to Church Street, showing their respect and appreciation for the guidance they have been given. When the faculty and staff reached the steps of the church, they stopped and repeated the procedure in reverse for the students in congratulations for their success.
Baccalaureate was led by CMU President Roger Drake, Provost Rita Gulstad, and Linn pastor the Reverend David Hutchison. The speaker for the ceremony was the Reverend Sheila Bouie-Sledge, associate pastor of Community Outreach and Social Justice Ministries at Salem UMC in St. Louis, Mo.
During Baccalaureate, the Reverend Sarah Schofield-Wimberley, mother of CMU graduate Abby Wimberley, read the scripture. She is the pastor at Northern Boulevard UMC in Independence, Mo.
In the afternoon, Commencement took place in the E.P. Puckett Field House. The students were led into the auditorium, followed by the faculty and staff, by the CMU Concert Band. The band later played “Ignition” by Tod Stalter and led the crowd out with a fanfare and recessional.
The Commencement speaker was the Reverend Terri Swan, who was awarded by CMU before delivering her speech with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Swan’s talk to CMU’s seniors was titled “It Matters.”
Following the address, academic honors were announced by Rita Gulstad, honors in the majors by Richard Bradley, and honors in clinical counseling by Angela Schubert.
Drake conferred the degrees after which Ken Oliver, vice president for institutional growth and student engagement, recognized special achievements; and Laura Blair, president of the Central Methodist University Alumni Association, spoke to the new graduates.
One of the highly anticipated events of Commencement is the presentation of the highest awards given to graduates by the University — the Victoria Award, the Human Relations Award, and the most prestigious Selecman Award.
The Victoria Award
Named after Victoria Beecroft Cutter, the Victoria Award is given annually to a graduate who, in the opinion of faculty and students, has best demonstrated dedication and principles of CMU.
This year’s awardee was Kiona Sinks, a sociology major from Kansas City, Mo. She is the founder and president of the 2017-formed African American Student Union (AASU), whose purpose is to promote positive images of African Americans and to stimulate the cultural, intellectual, and social growth of all CMU students, faculty, and staff. Sinks has also been an Orientation leader, an intern for Tyrone Flowers for High M-Pact, and a Student Ambassador of Mid-Missouri of Higher Education. In addition to leading the activities of AASU, Kiona has assisted CMU in the administration of a number of diversity and inclusion panels and forums, and was a member of the track team.
The Human Relations Prize
Established by Martha Smith Luck, the first female member of Central’s Board of Curators, The Human Relations Prize is given annually to the graduate who shows the most promise in human relations and human adjustment – one who “attempts to develop the ability to get along with others and work with others,” developing liaison techniques in the area of human relations and understanding.
The year’s awardee was Martha Bradley, a double-major in criminal justice and political science from Farmington, Mo., who graduated a year early. Bradley was president of the Student Government Association and editor-in-chief of The Collegian. She has been an orientation leader, a scholar athlete, and a member of Pi Gamma Mu social science honorary organization. She’s a member of the Dean’s List and assisted in the organization of the Lessons from Ferguson lecture and panel. She has served interns with Williams & Jensen Law Firm and the St. Francis County Prosecutor’s Office. She was also a member of the track team.
The Selecman Award
The most prestigious award given to a graduating senior is The Selecman Award, established in 1957 by Bishop Charles C. Selecman, a former Central student who became a Bishop in the United Methodist Church. He requested that the award be presented to the student who has displayed the following characteristics to an extraordinary degree: good citizenship on campus, scholarship, religious leadership, moral and spiritual qualities, and outstanding achievement.
The Selecman Award went to Kay Wilken Neas, a 4.0 GPA music education major, originally from Cole Camp, Mo. and currently from Fayette. Wilken Neas was a member of The Chorale, the Conservatory Singers, the Praise Band, and multiple opera workshops. She has been a music camp counselor, a tutor at The Writing Center, an assistant at the CMU Bookstore, and an after-school fellowship director. She belongs to Sigma Epsilon Pi Honorary Society, Sigma Alpha Iota women’s music fraternity, Student National Association of Teachers of Singing, and the National Association for Music Educators.

Selecman Award recipient Kay Wilken-Neas with CMU President Roger Drake

Leave a Comment