The 73rd Annual Commencement Exercises

The King’s College hosted its 73rd Annual Commencement Exercises honoring the 116 graduates in the Class of 2021 on May 7 and 8 at St. George’s Episcopal Church in New York City.

Home News & Events Stories

The King’s College hosted its 73rd Annual Commencement Exercises honoring the 116 graduates in the Class of 2021 on May 7 and 8 at St. George’s Episcopal Church in New York City.

The program on Friday, May 7, was a combined Commencement and Award Ceremony featuring addresses by President Tim Gibson, keynote speaker Bob Doll, valedictorian Esther Lawrence (English ’21), and senior speaker Joseph Fritz Scibbe (Humanities ’21), along with the presentation of annual graduate, staff, and faculty awards.

On Saturday, May 8, graduates received their diplomas at five separate Graduation Ceremonies throughout the day. One of the five ceremonies honored graduates in the Class of 2020 who wished to walk in-person, since the 2020 Commencement program was held virtually. The other four ceremonies divided graduates by major, which allowed graduates to have present two guests each, even with COVID-19-related capacity limitations. All Commencement programming was live-streamed to the College’s website.

WATCH: The 73rd Annual Commencement Exercises, May 7-8

In person attendance for Friday’s program was limited to 2021 graduates, award nominees, and speakers. Provost Dr. Mark Hijleh delivered an invocation, and Student Body President Colin Phillips (PPE ’21) delivered the Scripture reading of Psalm 41:1-3. Gibson’s address praised graduates for their adaptability and perseverance, as well as the character they showed in surrounding themselves with godly friends. “You have demonstrated remarkable grit getting to this point tonight,” he said. “You’ve chosen to endure, to finish well, to rise again and again as events and circumstances swirled around you.” Doll, an equity investor and strategist, charged graduates with a truth from Romans 12:2. “If you’re not consciously seeking to be transformed … you will wake up one day being conformed to the world.”

Bob Doll addresses the Class of 2021

Lawrence spoke about recollecting and celebrating her years at King’s, despite the feelings of nostalgia and loss that come with graduations. Drawing from Louise Glück’s poem “Vita Nova” as an illustration of recollection, she argued that creativity transforms specific personal experiences into something more universal. She closed with a quote from Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Little Women: “[Childhood] was going to end one way or another, and what a happy end.”

Scibbe discussed the “immense use” of the things learned at King’s: appreciating great art, practicing forgiveness, contemplating substantial ideas in community through Interregnum, studying theologians and thinkers throughout history. He read from a Wendell Berry poem to counter those who say these are useless from an economic perspective. Scibbe closed, “For living fully human lives of beauty, wonder, love, self-giving community, and joy, here at King’s we learn those things that are of the most use. And I thank you all for being such great co-learners.”

Tia McCord (Humanities ’21) presented the senior class gift: a Frederick Douglass scholarship for an incoming student. Thanks to donations by seniors, alumni, and friends, the Class Gift totaled $3,289 on May 7. The Class Gift total is now $4,914 and the scholarship will be awarded this summer.

The program concluded with the presentation of awards to graduates, faculty, and staff. Scroll to the bottom of this document for the full list of nominees and award winners.

On Saturday, each of the five programs included faculty and graduate processions, a welcome from Gibson, invocation by a parent of a graduate, conferring of degrees, faculty charge to graduates (watch them all here), and faculty benediction. The Vice President of the Alumni Association Executive Committee, Chris Ross (PPE ’10), presented 2021 graduates with an alumni pin and welcomed them to the alumni association.

The 11:00 AM program honored 21 Business Management/Administration and 5 Finance majors. Jim Pannell, father of graduate Lauren Pannell (Business ’21), delivered the invocation. Dr. Kimberly Reeve, chair of the program in Business and Finance, charged graduates to keep learning and to trust God’s plan for their lives. “Remember that your path may veer off in many unexpected directions. Pray for open doors, embrace the opportunities, learn as you go, and stop comparing yourself to everyone else.” Prof. Brian Brenberg, executive vice president and associate professor of business and economics, delivered the benediction.

The 12:00 PM program honored 19 Politics, Philosophy, and Economics majors and 3 Religious and Theological Studies majors. Gerusa Gonçalves, mother of graduate Deborah Gonçalves (PPE ’21), delivered the invocation. Dr. Paul Mueller, chair of the program in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, charged students to faithfully endure “life’s trials and tribulations,” seeing them as an opportunity to grow wiser instead of becoming bitter. Dr. Robert Carle, chair of the program in Religious and Theological Studies, encouraged students to remember how they have “learned to fish in deep waters” during their time at King’s. “You will go to work in the morning with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other hand, and you will be able to make connections that will elude many of your office mates. This is how you will be salt and light to those around you.” Dr. Anthony Bradley, professor of religious studies, delivered the benediction.

During the 1:00 PM program, 17 of the 114 graduates in the Class of 2020 were re-conferred their degrees. Bracey Fuenzalida, director of information technology and the father of graduate Daniel Fuenzalida (PPE ’20), delivered the invocation. Hijleh spoke about the Greek word sunergeo (meaning “that which works together” and the root of today’s “synergy”) Interdisciplinary thinking and understanding the eternal context can produce synergistic results which are ultimately the result of God’s working all things together for good. Dr. Dami Kabiawu, assistant professor of finance, delivered the benediction.

The 2:00 PM program honored 37 Media, Culture, and the Arts majors. Leslie Bustard, mother of graduate Margaret Bustard (MCA ’21), delivered the invocation. Dr. Henry Bleattler, associate professor of history and the humanities, charged graduates to hold tightly to the truth of God’s presence with them. He quoted Colossians 1: “All things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.” He reflected on walking through moments of failure, sustained by the idea that “if He could hold the universe together, surely He could hold me together as well.” Prof. Alissa Wilkinson, associate professor of English and humanities, delivered the benediction.

The 3:00 PM program honored 8 Journalism, Culture and Society; 8 English; and 15 Humanities majors. Chastity Jackson, mother of graduate Koby Jackson (Humanities ’21), delivered the invocation. Prof. Paul Glader, chair of the program in Journalism, Culture and Society, spoke about the connections between a career in journalism and the verse Micah 6:8: “What does the Lord require of you, O mortal, but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God?” Dr. Joshua Kinlaw, chair of the program in Media, Culture, and the Arts, countered the supposed uselessness of liberal learning with the argument from James Russell Lowell that the university distributes and breeds an appetite for “the bread of angels,” a phrase from Dante. Kinlaw said, “I’ve seen this healthy appetite in you both in the classroom and in casual conversation; I can only hope my colleagues and I have fed that. In any case, please continue to feed that appetite.” Prof. Chris Cragin-Day, associate professor of English and theater, delivered the benediction.

Several members of the Class of 2021 have already accepted post-college opportunities. Chailynn Chase (Finance ’21) is working as a production specialist at Ernst and Young Global Consulting. Elaina Bals (English ’21) accepted a job as marketing and development assistant for Encounter Books and The New Criterion. Seth Pate (English ’21) is working as a Lit/Comp III and Poetry Teacher at Great Hearts Academies. Daiya Malone (Humanities ’21) will be pursuing an M.A. in Art History at American University. Daniel Phelps (PPE ’21) is office manager at Glacier State Contractors, Inc. and Shannon (Mason) Phelps (JCS ’21) is a communications specialist at Tlingit and Haida in Juneau, Alaska.

The King’s College congratulates all of the members of the Class of 2021 and wishes them success in their future endeavors. Commencement weekend 2021 concluded with an all-graduates picnic on Governors Island on Sunday, May 9, open to staff, faculty, graduates, friends, and family. View more photos from Commencement on The King’s College Facebook page.

Awards Ceremony Nominees and Winners

An asterisk (*) denotes the award winner.

Athlete of the Year
Corinne Boonstra
Bailey Kaufman
Edvin Loefgren*
Renae Maganza

Business and Finance Academic Excellence Award
Noelle Hale*
Edvin Loefgren
Renae Maganza
Whitney Winn

Faculty of the Year Award
Anthony Bradley
Steele Brand*
Dru Johnson
Dami Kabiawu

Faculty Service Award
Henry Bleattler
Robert Carle*
Matthew Parks

Faculty Teaching Award
Steele Brand
Chris Cragin Day
Clemente Lisi*
David Talcott

Harriet Tubman Award
Deb Gonçalves*
Koby Jackson
Tia McCord
Serena Tuomi

Humanities Academic Excellence Award
Arianna Haynes
Micah Long*

Joe T. Ford Award
Noelle Hale
Edvin Loefgren
Renae Maganza*

Journalism, Culture and Society Academic Excellence Award
River Bell
Gabriela Kressley
Shannon Mason
Serena Tuomi*

Media, Culture, and the Arts Academic Excellence Award
Annabel Hutchinson
Gracie McBride*

MCA Capstone Award of Excellence
Olivia Bolling*
Nadja de Sá

Outstanding Service to the House System Award
David Leedy
Jonathan Sheaffer*

Politics, Philosophy, and Economics Academic Excellence Award
David Hancock
Catie Shoemaker*

Roberta Green Ahmanson Journalism Award
Gabriela Kressley
Shannon Mason*
Njeri McPherson
Liza Vandenboom

Scholar Athlete Award
Pavel Goz
Edvin Loefgren
Renae Maganza*
Serena Tuomi

Staff Leadership Award
Mark Hijleh*
Katelyn Tamm

Staff of the Year Award
Megan Dishman
David Leedy

Andrea Lopez*
Jonathan Sheaffer

Staff Service Award
Yulian Almonte
Andrea Lopez*
Brittin Ward

Student Service Award
Micah Long
Shá Sanders*

William R. Bright Award
Elaina Bals
Hannah Coston
Koby Jackson*
Lauren Pannell

William Wilberforce Award
Jan Gerber
Jennifer Ingraham
Micah Long*
Liza Vandenboom

View more stories about: