By Brian Blackwell, Baptist Message staff writer
ALEXANDRIA, La. (LBM) – Frank Ashley, executive associate dean of Texas A&M Bush School of Government and Public Service, told the Louisiana Christian University Class of 2023 graduates to change the world for Christ.
Speaking during the college’s 168th Commencement May 6 at the Rapides Parish Coliseum in Alexandria, Ashley said anything is possible for those who trust in God.
“Earning this degree is only the beginning,” he said. “You have got to keep on learning.
“Go out there and make an impact,” he continued. “An impact changes lives.”
The school conferred 259 degrees (182 undergraduate and 77 graduate) during the ceremony.
LCU President Rick Brewer praised the students for their perseverance through a tornado, two hurricanes, an ice storm and the pandemic.
“I think you all deserve an A in persistence and tenacity,” he said. “We are proud of you.
“We are a Great Commandment and a Great Commission university where we strive to teach our students to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength,” he continued. “Behind our students are tremendous faculty who have mentored, who have nurtured, who have poured into your lives, and to help flesh out this vision we have – preparing graduates, transforming lives.”
In addition to conferring degrees, LCU presented Ashley and Maggie Martin with honorary doctorates for their service to the university and the community.
Ashley, an LCU distinguished alumnus, has served in numerous administrative positions at Texas A&M in addition to being a senior professor. He oversees graduate education and research activities, as well as strategic planning, faculty affairs, student affairs, program development, diversity, assessment, communications and external relations, student services, and extended education programs in the Bush School.
Martin, for whom the inaugural Dr. Maggie Martin Leadership Summit is named, is the spouse of the late Jonathan Martin, whose memory has been carried on through LCU’s new Master of Business Administration program that bears his name. The leadership summit is an annual event for business and industry leaders in Central Louisiana who live out faith in their work.
Additionally, several graduates were chosen to share about their LCU journeys.
Caleb Howe said the encouragement received from fellow students and professors helped him grow spiritually, physically and mentally.
“As we leave here today ready to go out into the world, my prayer is that you keep God first and honor Him in all you do,” he said. “God is able, and He has a plan for your life. And if you just go and live by His agenda and keep His will, you are going to prosper.”
Ashley Young said LCU has given the graduates tools to be leaders in their jobs, communities, families and churches. She is the daughter of Terry Young, pastor of Airline Baptist Church, Bossier City.
“Fellow graduates, we have done the prep work and we have done well as college students,” she said.
“But now it is time to not apprehensively tip toe, but instead, triumphantly march towards this next season of life. You may not know where you are going after this or maybe you have a perfect plan waiting for you. Regardless, the future is coming. And if we have a relationship with the Lord and have done the prep work, we are now ready to be leaders in our community.”
In a prayer he led for graduates, Louisiana Baptist Executive Director Steve Horn asked God to use them to transform lives in America and beyond.
“We commission these students today, our God, that they would be empowered by the Holy Spirit,” Horn said. “And we release them today by the power of the Sprit, to the classrooms of America, to the hospitals of America. We long for that student that is not going to be isolated to America but take the Gospel to the nations, transforming not just this nation but transforming in our God the world. We know there is a call upon some of these very students to do exactly that. We pray they answer that call, and they use it so all the people of the world will know that you and you alone are God. We pray whether there is a specific Christian vocational call or a call to the marketplace, that each of these students would be ambassadors for Christ, and others would know of Jesus.”