Published: July 2013 in College News

A Final Celebration for Graduates

The Class of 2013 Graduated from Westmont in May and the Golden Warriors of the Class of 1963 Joined the Procession

Kinesiology GraduatesLed by bagpipes, more than 300 Westmont graduates marched from Kerrwood Hall through the formal gardens to Russell Carr Field May 4 for Commencement. Cloudy skies kept about 5,000 families and friends cool and comfortable as they cheered the graduates. Senior biology students decorated their mortarboard hats with cutout trees, while kinesiology students included a favorite Bible verse of the late Alex Moore’s on their hats: “Do the Work.” Two three-generation Westmont families celebrated a graduation as did a growing number of alumni parents. The class of 1963 celebrated their 50th reunion and joined the procession.

President Gayle D. Beebe presented the Westmont Medal to Edward and Suzanne Birch, leaders in the education community and active volunteers in many Santa Barbara organizations. A Westmont trustee, Birch served the college as executive vice president from 1993 to 2001 after 17 years as vice chancellor at UC Santa Barbara. Now president and CEO of the Samuel B. and Margaret C. Mosher Foundation and trustee of the Margaret C. Mosher Trust, Birch chaired the board of Pacific Capital Bancorp from 2004 to 2010. Suzanne Birch worked as a teacher, head of lower school and counselor at Laguna Blanca School and supervised student teachers at UC Santa Barbara.

Ronald C. White, the Commencement speaker, spoke on the topic, “Abraham Lincoln’s Sermon on the Mount.” A Lincoln scholar and author of numerous books about the 16th president, White said that Lincoln attempted to be inclusive in his second inaugural address to acknowledge that both the North and the South were responsible for the Civil War and to urge healing for the country. White compared 1865 to the deep political decisions that exist today and noted the need to embrace Lincoln’s last paragraph, which he asked everyone to repeat with him: “With malice toward none, with charity for all.”

Vice President and Dean of Students Jane Higa, who will retire in August after 24 years at Westmont, handed student awards to J.J. Turbin, Kristin Lo, Lillian Yamese and Daniel Gee.

Lo, who served as Westmont College Student Association president, earned the Dave Dolan Award for contributing to the awareness and response to the social and spiritual needs of the community, the nation and the world. Turbin and Candice Adema, who was unable to attend, earned the Dean’s Award as outstanding graduates who’ve demonstrated excellence in the classroom and made superior contributions to an athletic team. Turbin, who earned All-Golden State Athletic Conference honors playing center field for the Warriors baseball team, graduated with a degree in communication studies. Adema, who was named to the All-GSAC volleyball team, graduated with a 3.76 GPA in economics and business.

Higa gave Yamase and Gee the Kenneth Monroe Award for their superior academic achievement in the classroom and as leaders on campus. Gee also won the Faculty Scholarship Award for the student with the best academic performance: a 4.0 GPA.

President Beebe announced the creation of the Jane Higa Academic and Co-Curricular Partnership Award, which offers $1,000 annually to a faculty or staff member who continues the productive working relationship between faculty and student life staff that Higa has cultivated over the years.

Beebe also presented Terry and Betsy Davis, the parents of Nick Davis, a senior who died in a solo motorcycle crash in January, a posthumous degree and a plaque honoring Nick (see here).


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