Oklahoma Baptist University

Fourteen Receive Graduate School Degrees

Dr. Andrea West, director of curriculum and research for the International Parish Nurse Resource Center, brings the Commencement address.

Fourteen students celebrated an achievement relatively few people accomplish -– the completion of master’s degree studies –- during a Commencement ceremony for the OBU Graduate School on Saturday, Sept. 10, in OBU’s Raley Chapel.

Graduates receiving master of business administration degrees included: Paul Eric Blankenship of Edmond, Okla.; Bernard Njoroge Ngigi of Edmond; Shengxue Piao of Shawnee; and David A. Sisco of Oklahoma City.

A luncheon for the business graduates featured remarks from OBU President Dr. David W. Whitlock and from Dr. David Houghton, dean of the university’s Paul Dickinson College of Business. Gene King, associate director and chief marketing officerof the OBU Graduate School, hosted the luncheon.

Graduates receiving master of science degrees in nursing included: Janice René Carr of Oklahoma City; Mary Ann Gwartney of Shawnee; Sharla Jolene Lee of Shawnee; Stefanie LeGrande of Edmond; Peggy Moore-Gardner of Cushing, Okla.; Lisa Morlan of McLoud, Okla.; Leslie Diane Quick of Oklahoma City; ShyRhonda Roy of Oklahoma City; Lavona L. Smith of Cushing; and Pamela Kaye Tucker of Midwest City, Okla.

The nursing graduates were honored during a pinning ceremony and luncheon. They received a unique pin specifically designed for OBU MSN graduates during a luncheon hosted by Dr. Scott Harris, director of the OBU Graduate School. The pins were presented by Dr. Lana Bolhouse, dean of the college of nursing; Dr. Claudine Dickey, director of residency programs; and Dr. Robbie Henson, professor of nursing. Dr. Stan Norman, provost and executive vice president for campus life, offered remarks.

Graduates who received master of business administration degrees included (from left) Shengxue Piao, Paul Eric Blankenship and Bernard Njoroge Ngigi. Not pictured is David A. Sisco. (Photo by Candid Color Photography)

Norman encouraged the MSN graduates not only to reflect on the path they have traveled to reach this milestone, but also to look forward to investing their lives in other people.

“We are at our best and life is most meaningful when we pour out our lives in service to others,” he said.

Ron Fannin brought greetings from the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma during the Commencement ceremony. Fannin serves as senior associate executive director at the BGCO. Dr. John Farris, Lawrence and Marion Harris chair of education at OBU, read Scripture from Joshua 1:1-9.

The Commencement address was presented by Dr. Andrea West, director of curriculum and research for the International Parish Nurse Resource Center in St. Louis, Mo. A graduate of the University of Texas, Mississippi State University and the University of Oklahoma, she served most recently on the faculty and as dean of the Kramer School of Nursing at OU. An educational partner of the International Parish Nurse Resource Center, West has taught parish nursing to more than 150 registered nurses in Oklahoma.

West said her address focused on two themes: research and leadership. She urged the graduates to understand the importance of reading research outside their areas of study, while keeping track of research within their disciplines.

Graduates who received master of science in nursing degrees included (front row, from left) Leslie Diane Quick, Mary Ann Gwartney, Pamela Kaye Tucker, Janice René Carr, Peggy Moore-Gardner, (back row, from left) Sharla Jolene Lee, Stephanie L. LeGrande, Lavona L. Smith, Lisa Lacquement Morlan and ShyRhonda Roy. (Photo by Candid Color Photography)

“You do not know what you do not know,” she told the graduates. “You cannot do an adequate self-assessment because you don’t know what you don’t know.”

West contended it is management’s responsibility to identify the things a person does not know and to rectify that, either through continued education or through job enhancement.

“My challenge to you is to be open and read research in other areas, in other disciplines, so you might catch some little gems on how to manage people, how to manage your own life, how to make decisions and how to run meetings.”

West also told the graduates that in regards to leadership, character is something a person must work to develop over the course of a lifetime. Based on the Scripture in John 13, she said Jesus modeled servant leadership. She told the graduates she hoped they, too, would become servant leaders.

“A servant leader begins with the idea of being a servant first, not a leader,” she said.


A servant leader, she said, is someone who is trustworthy, humble, caring, and encouraging, serving in the role of a visionary, facilitator, community builder, partner, listener, good communicator, teacher and mentor. Servant leaders also teach through actions, provide tools to achieve the goals of the team, protect and nurture others, empower others, and train others as servant leaders.

“I challenge you today to lead with your heart and your head, to pay attention to the research, but, more importantly, pay attention to those around you,” West said. “Know that the education you have received here at OBU has prepared you to begin the next phase of your career and your life.”

In his charge to the graduates, Whitlock dared the graduates to walk in faith, to strive for excellence in every area of life and pursue to become all God has purposed each person to be with his guidance.