Jett Explores Why Students Are Here In Winter Commencement Address

December 20, 2002

Dr. Bradley Jett, James E. Hurley associate professor of biology at Oklahoma Baptist University, spoke of 14 responses to the question "Why are you here?" is his address to the 85 graduates at the university’s Winter Commencement Friday.

OBU’s James E. Hurley associate professor of biology Brad Jett addressed the 85 graduates at the university’s Winter Commencement Friday in Raley Chapel. Jett revealed 14 answers to the question "Why are you here?" in his presentation.

He began by letting the seniors know why he and the other faculty were at OBU.

"We feel a great sense of satisfaction when we realize we have made a difference in your lives," Jett said. "And on rare occasions, we may even have the opportunity to save a life. Do you parents realize that there are a staggering number of college students who subsist on raw cookie dough as if it were one of the major food groups? I received a card from a student upon completion of my course in microbiology. She wrote, ‘You have definitely made a difference in my life, I will no longer eat raw cookie dough.’ Another life saved!"

Jett, the 2002 winner of OBU’s Most Promising Teacher award, paraphrased the 14 responses he has heard from students into one lengthy statement.

The reasons Jett addressed were the faculty, curiosity, to be challenged, to succeed, to get married, to grow spiritually, because everyone goes to college, to get a good job, to prepare for graduate school, to learn to make a difference, because my parents wanted me here, to make memories, they have good coffee here, and to find answers to my questions.

Of academic curiosity, Jett quoted Vincent Dethier, "Although small children have taboos against stepping on ants because such actions are superstitiously said to bring rain, there has never seemed to be a taboo against pulling off the legs and wings of other insects. Most children eventually outgrow this behavior. Those who do not either come to a bad end or become biologists."

"Are you curious?," Jett asked. "Are you constantly wanting to know more? Are you a little possessed? While at OBU, did you pull the legs and wings off of your favorite subject?"

Jett said the students should have discovered something about their spiritual growth while at OBU, even if they did little more than study.

"Did you learn something about God from your academic pursuits? Did you learn something of God’s nature and Divine order while studying music, mathematics, business, or other subjects?" Jett asked. "I have to agree with Dr. Francis Collins, an evangelical Christian, and the scientist who headed up the U.S. federal government’s Human Genome Project, when he said that ‘in the field of genetics I often find myself appreciating something that up until then, no human had known, but God knew it & In a way, perhaps, those moments of discovery also became moments of worship.’"

To those looking to find answers to their questions, Jett referred to his faculty colleagues.

"If our students leave this place with more questions than when they arrived, then we have succeeded as a University," said Jett. "This is a place of questions, not a place of answers."

Jett ended with references from his own experience.

"In the language of microbiology, you have been a biofilm — an interconnected community of organisms, dependent on one another for your success and survival’ he said. "In a few minutes you will become planktonic, swimming in the broth of society. As your professor, I encourage you to maintain your love for learning and to never stop questioning. As your fellow Christian, I charge you to take your knowledge, faith, generosity, and compassion, and make a difference in the world.

"And as your microbiologist, please, please, stop eating raw cookie dough."

The graduates included four who were honored with the predicate summa cum laude and one who graduated with honors.

Amanda Beth Danek, Sarah Denise Phillips, Jonathan David Stewart and John Dustin Wood were awarded the summa cum laude predicate for maintaining a 3.95 grade point average on all work offered for the degree. Micah Shane Meek graduated with honors.

Those five were awarded academic hoods at the service.

Graduating from the Joe L. Ingram School of Christian Service were Corina Nicole Babcock, BA,Youth Ministry; Don Austin Blankenship, BA, Pastoral Ministry; Ray Lee Earley, Diploma, Christian Studies; Mitchell Edward Fiscus, BA, Christian Studies; Elbert L. Ford, Diploma, Christian Studies; Benjamin James Grasser, BA, Applied Ministry: Youth; Jody Ray Greene, BA, Youth Ministry; Jerod Alan Harper, BA, Bible; Melinda Jane Haub, AA,Christian Studies; John Dennis Higgens, AA, Christian Studies; Troy Irwin Hodges, AA, Christian Studies; Donald Troy Holley, Diploma, Christian Studies; Paul Keith Hollis, Diploma, Christian Studies; Joshua Crawford Jenkins, Diploma, Christian Studies; Danny Ray Ledford, BA, Christian Studies; Don Edward Lowrey, Diploma, Christian Studies; Brook Dawn Madison, AA, Christian Studies; Micah Shane Meek, BA/HONORS, Bible; Brad Darren Moore, BA, Bible; Rick G. Snyder, Diploma, Christian Studies; David P. Taylor, BA, Pastoral Ministry; Wanda N. Thomas, Diploma, Christian Studies; Alicia Dawn Thompson, BA, Bible/Sociology; Robert Neal Vaughan, BA, Bible; Jared Don Warthen, BA, Youth Ministry; John Dustin Wood, BA, Biblical Languages; and Daniel Carson Wright, BA, Pastoral Ministry.

Those graduating from the Warren M. Angell College of Fine Arts were Michael Brandon Clack, BA, Theatre; John Christian Cox, BMA, Musical Arts: Trumpet; Tana Estee Fleming, BA, Art/Theatre; Angela Gail Franklin, BME, Music Education, Vocal K-12; Piano Emphasis; Erin Lee Gray, BA, Telecommunication; Kelli Dawn Kiser, BA, Theatre; Nathan Lee Laughlin, BM, Theory & Composition; Nathan Scott Madsen, BME, Music Education, Instrumental, K-12; Stephanie Lynn Moring,BM/BMA,Vocal Performance/Musical Arts: Trumpet; Brandon Rister Roye, BA, Theatre; and Jonathan David Stewart, BA, Communication Studies.

Graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences were Kendra Noel Barker, BSE, Elementary Education; Sheree Elizabeth Belknap, BSE, Elementary Education/ Early Childhood Education; Morgan Lee Bice, BA, English; Brandy Lynn Bratton, BSE, Elementary Education; Patsy Michelle Coats, BS, Natural Science; Amanda Beth Danek, BA,/HONORS, Psychology; Jennifer Rene’ Davis, BSE, Early Childhood Education; James Edward Dickerson, BSE, Special Education: Mild/Moderate Disabilities, PK-12/ Elementary Education; Erin Lindsay Dulle, BA, Political Science; Meagan Lea Farber, BSE, Elementary Education; Roy Edgardo Garanton Perez, BA, Family Psychology; Todd Benjamin George, BA, Recreation Administration; Hettie Helen Mary Grubbs, BA, Sociology; Teresa Harvey, BA, History; Jessi LaRae James, BSE, Health, Physical Education, & Recreation, K-12; Katie Leigh Kelly, BA, Recreation Administration; Emily Anne Lancaster, BS, Sports Medicine; Amber Dawn Lewis, BS, Sports Medicine; Astra DeShawn Lewis, BS, Sports Medicine; Natalie Phelps Lupfer, BSE, Elementary Education/Early Childhood Education; Tacee Leigh Majors, BA, Family Development; Anna Julie Mason, BSE, Elementary Education; Samuel Keith McClendon, BA, Psychology; Jamie Lyn Metheny, BSE, Mathematics, Secondary Education; Carol Sue Morrison, BA, Public Relations; Sarah Denise Phillips, BSE, English Education, Secondary; Jonna L. Raney, BA, Public Relations; Julie Kathryn Sadowski, BSE, Special Education: Mild/Moderate Disabilities, PK-12; David Edward Steele, BA, Family Psychology; Sharon Kay Swinford, BA, Sociology/English; Ryan Scott Unrau, BA, Spanish; Brian Christopher Walker, BA, Public Relations; Kimberly Kay Watkins, BA, Public Relations; Dustin Don Weaver, BS, Sports Medicine; and Melissa Renee Wortham, BSE, Special Education: Mild/Moderate Disabilities, PK-12.

Those graduating from the Paul Dickinson School of Business were Bryan Christopher Blair, BS, Data Management; Ethan T. Gregg, BBA, Marketing; Thomas Brent Harger, BBA, Finance; John F. Hilfiker, BBA, Management; Heidi W Litherland, BBA, International Business; Christopher Lane Morrow, BBA, Management; Cynthia Ann Nichols, BBA, Marketing; Olivier Jean-Francois Sirop, BBA, International Business; Jordan Smith Slater, BBA, Marketing; Christina Gayle Stephenson,BBA, Accounting/Finance; Aaron Ashley Talton, BBA, Management; and Janet Lynn Wilson, BBA, Computer Science; Interdisciplinary: Education.