By James Mayse Messenger-Inquirer | Posted: Sunday, May 10, 2015 12:00 am
Kentucky Wesleyan College’s class of 2015 turned to face the future Saturday morning during the college’s 147th commencement ceremony in the college gymnasium.
For the 117 graduates, Saturday’s event was an end, but more importantly, the ceremony was a beginning. From here, the students will venture out to become business executives, educators, professional musicians and experts in their fields. Also, the graduates are taking the first steps into the larger world where, eventually, they’ll be parents, mentors and community leaders.
The Rev. Thomas Grieb, chairman of the Kentucky Wesleyan board of trustees, urged the graduates to grab onto a memory from Saturday’s commencement.
“Carry that with you,” Grieb told the students, “Carry forward with you the achievement this day represents.”
Bowling Green native Nix Crawford was one of the students in the campus gym receiving a degree at Saturday’s ceremony. After graduation, Crawford will be returning to Bowling Green, where he’ll begin teaching and coaching at the middle school where he was once a student.
Crawford said he will miss Kentucky Wesleyan — a sentiment that would have surprised Crawford four years ago. During his first semester as a freshman, Crawford said he was sure Kentucky Wesleyan wasn’t for him.
“I came to Wesleyan to play football, and I wanted to leave during my first semester,” Crawford said. With classes, football practice and traveling across the country to games taking up all his time, Crawford said he was homesick, and a little annoyed at seeing pictures of his friends at other schools living the “normal” college-student life.
“My parents told me I had to stay the entire year,” he said. But in his second semester, “I fell in love with (the college) and got involved in a lot of things,” Crawford said. After football season ended, Crawford was able to spend time with other students on campus and began developing his interest in government.
While other members of the football team left the program, “Coach (Brent Holsclaw) kept staying on me to stay,” Crawford said. “I ended up being the captain” of the team.
Holsclaw “was a big mentor to me,” Crawford said.
Sydni Fazenbaker Crowell will be attending medical school at the University of Louisville this fall. She said she became interested in medicine while taking classes in the college’s science department.
“I knew I wanted to do science, and (Kentucky Wesleyan has) a really strong science department,” Fazenbaker Crowell said. “I’m from Madisonville, so I’m only an hour away. Being close to home and family was a big factor” in choosing Kentucky Wesleyan, she said.
“I liked (being at) a small college,” Fazenbaker Crowell said. “It’s a close-knit community here at Kentucky Wesleyan.”
For Kentucky Wesleyan president Bart Darrell, Saturday’s commencement was a first.
“You are my first (graduating) class,” Darrell said. Darrell was selected at the college’s 34th president in September. “… I’ll never forget you.
“Here at Wesleyan, you have a name, not a number,” Darrell told the graduates. “I want to thank you; seniors lead, whether they intend to or not.”
Darrell told the graduates to strive to make the best decisions they can, while following what they feel is right. Darrell told the graduates that, while discussing with people about the most momentous decisions of their lives, he found those asked invariably mentioned decisions not motivated by career or status.
“Not one had anything to do with power or money,” Darrell said. “They all had to do with the heart … Every decision you make opens up other doors.”
Crawford, who is vice president of the campus student government, said what he liked about Wesleyan was the small classes sizes, which ranged from 20 to as few as five students.
“I had every single education professor’s phone number in my phone, and there were times when I’d be studying for a test that I’d call at 10:30 at night,” he said. “… I’m going to miss Wesleyan. This will be the first time in about 17 years that I haven’t been a student. I’ll be the teacher. I’m nervous, but I’m excited, too.”
Fazenbaker Crowell said she will miss Kentucky Wesleyan.
“Oh gosh, absolutely I will,” she said. “The people I’ve met here I’ll carry with me. These were the best years of my life. My best memories came from Kentucky Wesleyan and the people I met here.”
Perhaps strangest for Crawford will be the transition from football player to middle school football coach and Kentucky Wesleyan football fan, he said.
“I’m going to be coming to a lot of the football games,” he said. “I’m going to come to as many of the home games as I can.”
James Mayse, (270) 691-7303, [email protected], Twitter: @JamesMayse