Graduates Told: Be Faithful in All Areas of Life

for immediate release May 9, 1998

The 387 seniors graduating from Abilene Christian University Saturday afternoon would be hard pressed to disagree with Jeanene Reese when she called it a "time of great transition, decision making and questioning."

Amid all the questions about jobs, graduate school, relationships and time, "the overarching dilemma that troubles us as Christians is 'What is God's will in all of this - what would please him most?'" said Reese, director of ACU's Center for Women in Christian Service, who gave the charge to the class of 1998 during the undergraduate ceremony in Moody Coliseum. "The answer can be summed up in two simple words: Be faithful."

"In many ways you have already proven yourselves both individually and collectively to be men and women of faith. Your leadership and spiritual maturity has astounded us as educators. Your example and encouragement has set a standard for our underclassmen. Your creativity and willingness to serve already offers a promise to those seated in this audience and beyond," Reese said. "Now you must live out that faithfulness in every dimension of your life - the known and the unknown, the planned and the unplanned, the losses and the gains, the triumphs and the tragedies that life will offer you."

Reese specifically challenged the graduates to be faithful (1) in their private lives, where no one else but God sees what they do; (2) in their public lives, where others see who they are and what they do; and (3) after they have been unfaithful in some way.

"Contrary to what our world is saying today, there need not be discrepancies in who you are personally and who you are professionally," she said. "Your public life is shaped by your private life. Be faithful in both."

Dr. Carley Dodd, dean of the Graduate School and Academic Enhancement, gave the commencement address to the 59 master's degree and four doctorate students earlier Saturday.

"None of your preparation will be useful unless you are a convicted person about your purpose," Dodd said. "Call it a fire in the belly, passion, burning desire. It is about something you really believe based on reason and you engage your faith in making it happen."

"Here is the secret to your future," Dodd continued. "When you see what is needed, when there is the fire in your bones for using your gifts, and this is your passion, that is success. Success is not measured outwardly, but by the fulfillment of your vision and dreams."

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During the undergraduate ceremony, Dr. Perry Reeves, professor of chemistry, received the Trustees' Award for Outstanding Teacher of the Year. In nominating Reeves, students said, "he is an excellent teacher who cares about my life and success in school," "he makes class fun and interesting - an amazing teacher," "he makes an effort to know the name of every student and learn something about them," and "he gave me guidance throughout my years here and has always been a great encouragement to me." Reeves is only the fourth professor ever to be chosen for the award twice, having first won it in 1988. A 1965 ACU graduate, he was dean of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences from 1981-87 and chair of the chemistry department from 1992-95.

Also, the undergraduate students with the three highest grade point averages were honored with the Alpha Chi Award: Geremy Keeton of Gatesville, 4.0; Adam Nicholson of Anderson, Ind., 4.0; Brian Cavitt of Lake Jackson, 3.975; and Mark Smith of Bristol, Va., 3.973.

Five students were awarded the Trustees' Award, and five students were honored with the Dean Adams Achievement Award.

* The Trustees Award, given each year to students for the honor and recognition they have brought ACU through their achievements, character and devotion to the university, was presented to Kaley Alexander of Mesquite; Joanna Blair of San Ramon, Calif.; Lee Griffith of Carlsbad, N.M.; Julie Maldonado of Blanca, Colo.; and Matt Moreland of Spring.

* The Dean Adams Achievement Award is presented to several students for their exemplary character, outstanding academic achievement and determined perseverance to overcome obstacles to obtain their education. This year's awards went to Mapopei Flores of Wichita Falls; Shelly Owen-Martinez of Carlsbad, N.M.; Bud Ross Jr. of Abilene; Kevin Starks of Memphis, Tenn.; and Darra Stringer of Canton.

Several other major awards were presented during the Senior Dinner for seniors and their families Friday night at the Abilene Civic Center.

* Mark Smith and Heather Chance of San Antonio were named Honor Man and Honor Woman for exemplary character, outstanding academic achievement, and behavior epitomizing the ideal student.

* Brian Cavitt and Mandy Scudder of South Africa were awarded the V.W. Kelley Scholarship for rendering the most outstanding service to fellow students and to ACU while maintaining the highest moral character and academic achievement.

* Jeff Henderson of Childress and Chelsea Teague of Fort Worth were named B Sherrod Scholars for their overall contribution to the university, while maintaining academic standards.

* Matt Moreland and Heather Chance were voted Mr. and Miss ACU by the student body for outstanding scholarship, character and spiritual leadership.

If you are a member of the media who would like more information about this release, please contact Malissa Endsley, director of media relations, at or call 915-674-2692.

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Last update: June 2, 1998