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IDEAL commencement celebrates graduation of 10th cohort

Kim Chaudoin | 

IDEAL graduates before the ceremony.

The graduation season officially began at Lipscomb University on Thursday, May 2, with a ceremony celebrating the academic accomplishments of eight students who completed the requirements for certificates in career exploration this spring. 

The students are members of the 10th cohort in Lipscomb’s IDEAL (Igniting the Dream of Education and Access) program to earn these certificates. They were met with cheers and applause from their families, peers, friends, faculty, staff, administrators and friends who came to celebrate their achievements at the ceremony held in the George Shinn Center. 

Students receiving their certificates in career exploration this spring include Brock Scott Bordeau, LaCory Montrez Carlton, Kacey McKenna Epling, Christopher Lynn Martin Jr., Samuel Evan Porcelli, Stephen Benjamin Summers, Karrington Nicole Thomas and Aaron Scott Woodard. Bordeau also received the Savannah Miller Award. 

Senior Kyle Joaquin, a senior business major who has served as a peer mentor for IDEAL students and has completed more than 220 volunteer hours with the program. He offered a message to the graduates on behalf of all of the program’s peer mentors. 

Graduate and peer mentor.
IDEAL graduates with certificates.

“While reflecting on what message to share with you today, one thing became apparent to me — the importance of a single moment. Our lives are made up of a series of these moments, like a movie, each of these moments help create a better picture, eventually developing into a beautiful story that we know is life,” shared Joaquin. “Class of 2024, as you look back and reflect upon your time here at Lipscomb University, I encourage you to remember where you started.” 

“You came in as first year students thrown into a whole new environment full of possibilities. Today, you are graduates who have seized these moments and made the most of them,” he continued. “Whether you cheered loudly for our Bison sports teams, developed your skills through your classes and internships or simply just shared class with your friends, you've seized the moment. When I first started volunteering with IDEAL, I could have never imagined the impact it would have on my life. Each and every one of you has given me a moment that I will cherish for a lifetime.”

JP Conway, assistant professor of Christian ministry, shared a faculty message with the graduates that drew upon the story of David and Goliath from I Samuel 17. “Just like David’s story began, he had vision and just like you had great vision to see something in your future and to say, ‘that is something I want for myself,’” said Conway. “I'm certain, students, there was a time when you thought I want to be able to do this … I want that job or I want that educational training.”

“Today we're celebrating what you've done in the past and the vision you have. We're also celebrating what you're going to do in the future. As we look at you, we see amazing potential. We see a thirst for knowledge, and we see the skills you have developed. Students as you go off from this place, slay the giants that you find in your path just like David did. May the Lord lead you to great victory and may you remember, because you have done these things, you will be able to conquer what comes next.” 

Dr. McQueen at IDEAL graduation.

President Candice McQueen shared several “be” passages from scripture that she sees reflected in how the IDEAL graduates interact with others and have been part of the Lipscomb community. They are: be still and know that I am God, be strong and courageous, be merciful and be gracious. 

“Joshua was told to by God to be strong and courageous. You are strong and courageous,” she said to the graduates. “You were strong an courageous to step foot on this campus determined to take on the college experience. You had the courage to get to know this place just like it's home, go to classes, engage with your peers. You were strong and courageous to take that first step as college students. Thank you for seeing the importance of being strong and courageous, and showing us how important it is for every person to move into a post secondary environment, and further their learning and life goals.”

“You have given us more than we have given you. Thank you for how you have enriched our community, how much each of you have learned and I hope that you will now take that back to others you come in contact with,” continued McQueen. “We hope you will come back and see us often. Never forget that you are a bison for life.”

Poster session

Associate Provost Brian Mast gave students a final charge.

“Your journey does not end here. As you step out into the world beyond this campus, remember that the same courage and determination that brought you here today will guide you toward even greater heights,” he said. “You are not just graduates of IDEAL, you are ambassadors of hope, advocates of inclusivity and beacons of light for God’s Kingdom.”

“Remember the lessons you have learned at Lipscomb. Remember the friendships forged, the knowledge gained, and the skills honed,” continued Mast. “But above all, remember the power of your own voice. Believe in yourself, for you possess the potential to shape a world that embraces diversity. As you embark on this new chapter of your lives, know that the Lipscomb IDEAL family stands beside you, cheering you on every step of the way.”

Prior to the graduation ceremony, students presented their work at a poster presentation session.

Learn more about Lipscomb’s IDEAL program. 

— Photos by Kristi Jones