DENMARK — Voorhees College held its 117th Commencement Convocation Saturday, awarding 117 bachelor of science degrees.
In opening the commencement, President Cleveland L. Sellers Jr. said he was proud of the class of 2014 for staying the course.
“The class of 2014 has proven that hard work and willpower does take you a long way,” Sellers said. “There are many who would like to be where you are today. There are many who started out with you on this journey four years ago, but they did not continue on the same path you did, which led you to becoming a college graduate.”
He told the graduates they must continue to remember all the obstacles Voorhees’ founder endured to establish the college.
“You are now expected to carry the torch first lit by our founder, Elizabeth Evelyn Wright Menafee. The torch represents her values of resilience, determination and persistence,” Sellers said.
Billye Jewel Aaron, wife of baseball legend Hank Aaron, was the commencement speaker. Aaron, whose grandparents are from Newberry, commended the class of the 2014 for their persistence.
“I want to congratulate you on staying the course, for keeping your eyes on the prize,” she said. “I want to congratulate you for being conscientious students who have matured to get your degree from Voorhees College.”
She added, “I want to commend you for what you will do after you leave Voorhees College. I want to suggest to you that you should keep in mind always from whence you come from.”
Aaron also spoke on how inspired she was by Voorhees’ founder after reading her life story.
“Her life was unbelievable. She was a phenomenal woman and without her, you may have very well been sitting somewhere else. She took the time to build this college. Elizabeth Evelyn Wright should stay in your mind as you move along your path to success,” she told the graduates. “She was an African-American young woman who followed her dreams and met her destiny here in this rural community.”
Following her address, Sellers awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Voorhees to Aaron.
A commissioning ceremony was also held during commencement for Domanique Abner, who will be commissioned as second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Abner, an honor graduate, received a bachelor of science degree in child development.
Sellers also recognized the top three graduates of the class of 2014, who all hail from Philadelphia. Ben Bakayoko, first academic honor, received a degree in African American studies. Courtney Jones, second academic honor, received a degree in criminal justice. Tyshera House, third academic honor, received a degree in business administration.
Sellers told the graduates to use their skills, talents and treasures received at Voorhees to rebuild and reenergize communities across the world.
“Voorhees is counting on you to continue the legacy of success that it has sustained for 117 years. You are now a part of a very special and elite group; you an alum of Voorhees College,” he said.
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