Nearly 5,000 family members and friends soaked in the pageantry of a Westmont Commencement that honored 300 graduates (103 with honors) during a drizzly morning May 6 at Carr Field. Paul Delaney, Westmont English professor, dubbed the occasion “making memories in the mist.”
By the time Commencement speaker reached the podium, the mist had turned to a light rain. “I thank God for showers of blessing,” said Carol Houston, senior pastor of the Bethel Unspeakable Joy Church in Los Angeles and a Westmont trustee. “This is a great beginning for you. Do not move onto the next phase in your life believing you can do it by yourself. I submit to you today that you should long to have the power of God’s spirit living on the inside of you, moving through you, anointing you every single day to go forward. The oppositions will come. The oppositions have come. Greater is the God in you.
“I leave you with three words that have become ammunition for me. Every day of your life when you cannot see and you cannot understand, remember these three words: ‘Jesus, help me.’”
President Gayle D. Beebe gave the Westmont Medal to Patrick Enthoven, a former treasurer and director of Direct Relief. The award honors a Santa Barbara community member who upholds the values and ideals of Westmont. Enthoven, a native of Johannesburg, South Africa, grew up under apartheid, and has been deeply involved in charitable, humanitarian work for the underprivileged in South Africa. He graduated from the University of Cape Town, and recalled the speech Robert F. Kennedy gave on the University’s “Day of Reaffirmation of Academic and Human Freedom” in 1966.
“He looked at all of us and said, ‘You’re a very privileged bunch of people,’” Enthoven said. “‘But there’s one fallacy about privilege, and that is if you disturb the status quo in any way, you will disturb your privilege.’ He said, ‘I want to tell you that that is totally fallacious. Unless you disturb the status quo, unless you improve the lives of the underprivileged your privilege is at risk.’”
Edee Schulze, dean of students, presented Becky Collier (track and field) and Austin Lack (soccer) with the Dean’s Award for their excellence in the classroom, superior contributions to their team, and deep faith in Christ.
Collier, graduating with a 3.62 GPA, is the most decorated Westmont athlete, earning 13 All-American titles. “Your commitment to excellence goes far beyond competition in the pentathlon,” Schulze said. “Your professors note that you have intellectual curiosity, moral reflectiveness, creativity and a teachable spirit. You crafted your own major, social innovation and entrepreneurship, largely because of your desire to bridge your academic interests in public health and social business with applied learning.”
Lack, who earned a bachelor’s in communication studies with a 3.48 GPA, has invested his time where his gifts and abilities intersected with the opportunities of the campus community. “Your desire has always been to follow Christ in your many endeavors and to seek to understand what that might look like in a variety of settings and circumstances,” Schulze said. “You have been both a leader and model within the borders of the men’s soccer program. You are admired for your outreach and mentoring of younger students.”
Sherry Luo, who earned a bachelor’s in sociology with a 3.87 GPA, won the Dave Dolan Award, which honors the outstanding graduate whose campus leadership has made significant contributions in our awareness and response to social and spiritual needs. Luo founded of the Convergence Club, bringing the college community into respectful dialogue on issues that can be divisive. “You have been an ambassador for the Gaede Institute Liberal Arts Ambassador program for four years, and the Gaede Institute staff have seen you extend, amplify and make practical use of your deep interest in social justice causes,” Schulze said.
Leandra Marshall and Tommy Nightingale earned the Kenneth Monroe Award, given to the outstanding graduates demonstrating superior academic achievement in the classroom, excelling as leaders on campus, and influencing other students’ lives through their integrity, character and faithfulness.
Marshall, a Monroe scholar who earned bachelor’s degrees in biology and chemistry with a 3.96 GPA, served in student government for three years and was president of the Westmont College Student Association. “Your professors in biology and chemistry note that you work hard, you are uncommonly determined to understand new and difficult ideas, and you are known for communicating your ideas clearly in order to complete challenging tasks set before you,” Schulze said.
Nightingale earned bachelor’s degrees in economics and business, English and religious studies with a 3.62 GPA. “You are bright, affable, respectful, and curious; a renaissance man who enjoys reading the classics, engaging in stimulating conversations, playing chess, and a fantastic tennis player,” Schulze said. “You always show up, push as needed, attentively listen and then challenge, always intent on growing in wisdom and enabling others to grow with you.”
Mark Sargent, Westmont provost, announced the recipients of the Bruce and Adaline Bare Outstanding Teacher Awards: Felicia Song, associate professor of sociology, Gregg Afman, professor of kinesiology, and Cheri Larsen Hoeckley, professor of English, who was attending her daughter’s college graduation. Scott Anderson, professor of art, received the Faculty Research Award.
Song, winner in the social sciences, is a sociologist who studies social media. “She writes with discernment about the capacity of social media to give voice to those who might otherwise be unheard—and to create community among those who might otherwise be alone,” Sargent said. “At the same time, she can diagnose the dangers of our digitally saturated world and offers both practical wisdom and scholarly expertise to help us envision sustainable digital practices consistent with Christian values.”
Afman, winner in the natural and behavioral sciences, teaches the science of human movement. “Students in his anatomy, physiology, and fitness classes love his clear explanations, his caring manner, and his humorous interludes,” Sargent said. “In recent years, Gregg has collaborated with scholars at the University of Bath, and he brings students into those projects, enabling some to present their research with him at conferences on sports medicine.”
Anderson, who accepted the Faculty Research Award, regularly produces illustrations for the nation’s leading publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the Village Voice and Penguin Books. “Two of the nation’s most prestigious publications for the graphic arts—American Illustration and Communication Arts Illustrated—will print selections of Scott’s work,” Sargent said. “This is rare territory: they publish only four percent of the work nominated for their consideration.”
Forty-nine Golden Warriors, who graduated in 1967, attended the event to celebrate their 50th reunion.