Wesleyan Sends Class of 2018 into the World
Article published by the Messenger-Inquirer on April 29, 2018. Written by James Mayse
Kentucky Wesleyan College class of 2018 receives degrees
Codie Drake came to Kentucky Wesleyan College from two states away, seeking the opportunity to stand on her own for the first time. Jacob Nanney, on the other hand, came to the college from the east side of Owensboro, looking for both a way to cut expenses while going to school and for a close-knit community.
Drake and Nanney found everything they were looking for, and more, at Kentucky Wesleyan, they said. Saturday morning, Drake and Nanney were among the graduates receiving degrees at Kentucky Wesleyan’s 150th commencement ceremony at the Owensboro Convention Center.
“It’s so bittersweet” to be graduating, Drake said during an interview earlier in the week. “It hasn’t hit me yet.
“I feel I was meant to come to Wesleyan,” Drake said. “The community I’ve built here is phenomenal. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
Kentucky Wesleyan is not a giant college, and the close-knit atmosphere of the school was on display Saturday morning. It was evident in college president Bart Darrell’s remarks to the class. For every ideal the college holds dear — from perseverance, leadership and service to the ability to not overly sweat the small stuff — Darrell was able to point out a graduate, by name, who exemplified that quality.
“You have set the bar for the rest of Wesleyan history,” Darrell told the graduates. “This class is packed with amazing people who have done amazing things.
“We are better because you were here,” Darrell said.
Nanney was interested in studying chemistry and biology when he began exploring the possibility of attending Kentucky Wesleyan. After meeting with chemistry professor W.L. Magnuson, Nanney knew Wesleyan was the place he wanted to be, he said.
“He really sold me on the program, how it was like a family,” Nanney said in an interview Friday afternoon.
“There’s a good family culture at KWC that I really liked, and that’s what brought me to them. “
That closeness among students and faculty is exactly what Nanney found, he said.
“Almost every time before an exam, there’s almost a calm before the storm,” Nanney said. “It’s an exciting calm … everyone is coming closer together, to make sure we all pass as a unit. Everyone is trying to help each other along.”
Drake, a member of the women’s basketball team, came from Grand Ledge, Michigan. Drake, who was recruited to play basketball, saw coming to Wesleyan as a first step into a larger adventure outside the United States.
“I knew, after I graduated, I could live abroad,” Drake said. “It was a stepping stone.
“When I visited, Kentucky Wesleyan seemed like a perfect fit,” Drake said. “I really fell in love with my academics.”
Drake, who is going to Ireland to pursue a masters in philosophy in international peace studies, said Wesleyan allowed her to play sports, be a tutor and student instructor, study abroad and pursue each of her interests.
“I have hundreds, or thousands” of positive memories of time on campus, Drake said. “I have really enjoyed the intellectual curiosity I’ve gained from Wesleyan.”
Nanney, who will study neuroscience and medicine at the University of Louisville to become both a professor and a medical doctor, said leaving Kentucky Wesleyan was sad, but that the college has prepared him to move on.
“I’m on to the next stage of my career, but it’s hard to say goodbye to some of the people I’ve come so close to,” Nanney said. “But I know myself and them are going to be successful and stay in touch.”
The commencement address Saturday was given by Perry Rogers, a sports management consultant who has represented superstars like Shaquille O’Neal, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, and has worked with other professional athletes in the NBA. Rogers also has a special connection with Kentucky Wesleyan — nineteen members of Rogers’ family are Wesleyan graduates.
“This is one of those days you’ll remember,” Rogers told the class. Through anecdotes about negotiating deals for Agassi, his childhood best friend and O’Neal, Rogers told graduates the key to being successful is being able to work with people and see things through their perspective, and being involved.
“Success in life will not be determined by your bank account,” Rogers said. Instead, what’s important is “how you change lives,” he said.
“Be honest, be kind, work hard — work very hard,” Rogers told the class. “… Help your colleagues. Be the friend you want to have.
“I’m proud of you,” Rogers said.