Oklahoma Baptist University conferred degrees upon 288 graduates during its 104th Spring Commencement Friday, May 18. The event took place in Raley Chapel’s Potter Auditorium on the OBU campus in Shawnee.
The graduating students took their symbolic final walk across the campus as OBU students when they filed into Raley Chapel’s Potter Auditorium for the 3 p.m. ceremony. The walk mirrored one of many of the graduates took during their first week as students. Dressed in academic regalia, the graduates proceeded from the Geiger Center to the chapel, passing through rows of OBU faculty members before reaching the chapel’s east steps.
The Rev. Dr. John A. Reed Jr., senior pastor of Fairview Missionary Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, delivered the commencement address. Reed has held several leadership positions within Baptist institutions, including president of the Oklahoma Baptist State Convention, vice president of the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education and vice president over the western region for the National Baptist Convention.
During the ceremony, the University awarded Reed with an honorary Doctor of Divinity.
The University also presented its top three honors for faculty and staff members. Dr. Bret Roark, professor of psychology and Ralph and Marie Barby Chair, received OBU’s Distinguished Teaching Award. Dr. Cherith Tucker, assistant professor of mathematics, received OBU’s Promising Teacher Award. Ford Mastin, track coach and assistant professor of physical education and health and human performance, received OBU’s Meritorious Service Award.
Reed delivered an emotionally charged message, challenging students to go beyond their own limitations.
“If your mind can conceive it, and your heart can believe it, then you can achieve it,” he said.
“My message to you today is just a simple message. That message is to keep your dreams. No matter how far-fetched, no matter how unreachable, no matter how impossible that they seem, keep your dreams.”
He continued by challenging the graduates to persevere during difficult times and to hold onto their dreams.
“You have to understand that through life, we are going to encounter disappointments,” he said. “Through life, we are going to encounter setbacks. No one ever reached a goal without experiencing setbacks.
“Setbacks are part of progress, even as mistakes are part of learning.”
He concluded by encouraging the graduates in the times to come.
“Let me challenge you this afternoon to keep dreaming,” he said. “No matter how weak you may feel at any given moment, keep dreaming.”
View a video of the commencement ceremony.