Published December 18, 2014
By Lindsay Starr Platt, The Belton Journal
Crusader Stadium was full of attendees clutching bouquets of flowers and cameras on Friday. The stadium played host to not a ballgame, but it was where the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Fall Commencement 2014 was held.
According to a press release from the university, this was the university’s 158th graduating class. 352 students were awarded degrees. Of those, 293 students received bachelors degrees, 57 received masters degrees and two earned doctoral degrees. Twelve percent of this year’s fall graduates are first-generation college students. Thirty-five members of this class are either active-duty or retired military.
“We thank you for these graduates, and the friends and family that helped them along the way and also the university faculty and staff,” said Dr. Eugene Toy. “We will give these graduates hope, as they face adversity.”
Most of the graduates were from Texas, but some traveled across the country and around the globe. Graduates hailed from eight different states and six different countries.
“Thank you, for the many sacrifices you made so your loved ones could earn their degrees,” said Dr. Randy O’Rear, UMHB President. “We will be sad to see you go, but you will have one leg up in your journey. Don’t be so focused on the end result, that you did not get to enjoy the ride along the way.”
Student awards given during the ceremony included the Provost Medal for highest overall GPA, which was split between eight students who each graduated with perfect 4.0 grade point averages: Jessicca Allen of Dublin, Loren Cowan of Luling, Hannah Gardenhire of Rockdale, Sarah Gregory of Garland, Joshua Holt of Waco, Sarah Mackie of Lott, Jessica Simone Moreno of Victoria and Sarah Tipton of Harker Heights.
The Loyalty Cup for the student who is most representative of the ideals, traditions and spirit of the university was shared by Jason Aleman of Round Rock and Ashton Ellegood of Mesquite.
The President’s Award for meritorious service went to both Katelyn Holm of Willis and Provost Medalist Sarah Tipton of Harker Heights.
The university was also honored to graduated more than just the traditional, straight-out-of-high-school students.
Lexie Newberry, a teacher at High Point Elementary School in Belton, was one such student.
During her time in school, Newberry was working full-time, a wife, a mother of one and pregnant. In a year in a half, she became the mother of two and had her degree.
“This is very exciting, to have accomplished this and to be surrounded by my family,” Newberry said. “I now have a masters degree in Educational Administration; I am a teacher now, but I am on my way to be a principal.”
Newberry’s stepmother Tonya Cameron, UMHB Alumni, from New Braunfuls was excited for Newberry as she completed her degree in eighteen months.
But Newberry is not the only non-traditional student graduating this year.
“This is my second degree, I served 26 years in the military,” Angel Medina, Master of Education graduate, said. “One thing UMHB and the military have in common is they fight for our freedom and put God first.”