Melissa Ann Allen of Paris was the first-ever Bethel University graduate on Sunday, Aug. 2 just one day after the school had officially become a university. Allen was among 120 graduates who received degrees during the historic first Bethel University commencement held in Bouldin Auditorium of the Dickey Fine Arts Building.
Allen had earned a bachelor of science.
Sam Suddarth, the moderator of the 179th General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, was the commencement speaker.
“All I need to know about life I learned from Star Trek,” Suddarth said.
He asked the graduates, “What is your philosophy of life?”
“Everyone has one whether he or she knows it or not,” he said. “Star Trek’s Spock was a Vulcan. The Vulcan philosophy was I Lead, I See.
“You’ll find in life many things. You’ll see that not everyone’s as smart as you, but you’ll also see that everyone’s not as dumb as you are either.”
Suddarth encouraged the graduates to never stop learning.
“Keep an open mind,” he said. “Always tell the truth and have a reason for what you do. Vulcans don’t lie.”
Suddarth also encouraged graduates to temper their words with love.
“Seek out life in new civilizations – remember building relationships is the prime directive. When it comes to relationships cherish your friends and choose them well.”
According to Suddarth, the graduates would encounter “aliens.”
“You will encounter people who know their environment and you won’t,” he said “Also remember that suffering will happen. Suffering produces character and character produces hope.”
Suddarth closed by encouraging graduates to boldly go where no one has gone before.
“You’ve already done this by being the first-ever class of Bethel University,” he said. “As you embark on life’s journey, how will you make it? Each according to his gifts, live long and prosper.”
Graduates who earned a Bachelor of Science were: Melissa Ann Allen, Paris; Crystal Tamekila Bailey, Dyersburg; Lewis David Bell, South Fulton; Jennifer Lynn Bishop, Median; Barbara Ann Blakely, Memphis; Lisa A. Brazil, Murfreesboro; Emmitt Jereh Brinson, Memphis; Stephanie Marie Brunson (Summa Cum Laude), Cumberland Furnace; Wilma Landers Capps (Cum Laude), Dyersburg; Lillian Teresa Carter, Memphis; Lonnie W. Coleman, Olive Branch, Miss.; Christopher Michael Collins, Guthrie, Ky.; Krystal Sherrod Conner, Brownsville; Matthew Grant Cooper, Jackson; Melinda Barber Cross (Cum Laude), Union City; Tanya Evette DeBerry, Jackson; Brandon McClellan Denton, Hendersonville; Lourdanie Desir, Nashville; John Ellis Dorse, Memphis; Nicole T. Ellis, Jackson; Shane Bentley Faulkner, Calhoun, Ga.; James Daniel Fisher (Summa Cum Laude), McKenzie; Emily D. Fowler; Andrea M. Ford, Memphis; Beverly Ann Foster, Smyrna; Tamara R. Givens, Gallatin; Amanda D. Golden, Paris; Seth Smith Gordon (Cum Laude), Jackson; Jason K. Griggs (Magna Cum Laude), Trenton; Martin Hall Jr., Clarksville; Natasha D. Hall (Magna Cum Laude), Clarksville; Carrie D. Hannah, Jackson; Pamela Hardaway, Byhalia, Miss.; Julia Ann Haymer, Paris; Ricky W. Hester (Magna Cum Laude), Clarksville; Gloria Jean Hilliard, Memphis; Rhonda Hughes-Qualls, Bartlett; John H. Johnson, Clarksville; Kathey L. Johnson, Memphis; Geneva C. Jones, Jackson; Kenisha E. Jones, Cordova; Kimishia Y. Jones, Cordova; Marshall Jones III, Jackson; Wendi Shayne Edwards Jones, Linden; Jeff L. Knox, Signal Mountain; Cordiero Robert Laster, Parsons; Marsha L. Lee (Magna Cum Laude), Parsons; Laurie L. Lewis, Jackson; Anthony R. Limes, Ridgely; Rodney Wayne Lomax (Cum Laude), Linden; Amanda Marion Manton, Ormand Beach, Fla.; Daphne B. Martin, Memphis; Robyn Mattox-Robinson, Memphis; Charice McCants-Conner, Jackson; Alecia Demetria Clevette McLaurine, Nashville; Carl Thomas Meister, Arlington; Stella L. Minor, Jackson; Denise Sunshine Myles, Jackson; Betty Jo M. Nanney (Cum Laude), Newbern; Nike O. Odusanya, McKenzie; Jonathan D. Owen, Hohenwald; Wondra Denise Pie, Memphis; Amy Danielle Powell, Baxter; Leona G. Presley, Chickamauga, Ga.; Melissa Beth Rice, Lexington; Tonya S. Rose-Johnson (Magna Cum Laude), Ooltewah; LaShunna R. Ross (Cum Laude), Memphis; Tamica L. Ross, Hermitage; Jason Trent Scott, Parsons; Condelia Margarene Shirley, Dalton, Ga.; Jennifer Nicole Smith, Murfreesboro; John Franklin Smith (Cum :Laude), McKenzie; Tina Marie Stanfill (Summa Cum Laude), Lexington; John Rico Strickland, Nashville; Millard Elic Sturgill (Summa Cum Laude), Lexington; Amanda Carol Taylor (Magna Cum Laude), Bells; Mary F. Teague, Paris; Kevin L. Terrett (Summa Cum Laude), Martin; Kimberly D. Terrett, Martin; Alisha Leah Tharpe (Magna Cum Laude), Paris; Amy Leah Torres, Ripley; Augustine Tina Tuggle, Nashville; Nicole Lynn Wade, Nashville; Beverly D. Washington (Cum Laude), Humboldt; Cassandra Williams (Cum Laude) Memphis; Elizabeth Anne Wood (Magna Cum Laude), Reagan; James Landon Wood, McKenzie.
Those graduating with a master of arts in education were: Joel Robert Ayers, Martin; Lorrie A. Brown, McKenzie; Kristy Henry, Covington; Catherine Gore Herrera, Paris; Bridget Nicole Kelly, Camden; Brandon Wade Kilburn, McKenzie; Mumela Mumiukha, McKenzie; Megan Lynn Reynolds, Bells; Tanya Murlene Baker Ricketts, Huntingdon; Matthew Whitelaw Shearon, Brownsville; Jada Ann Sims, Greenfield; John Robert Wilkins, Paris.
Earning a master of arts in teaching was: Anita Gail Marshall-Harris of Camden.
Those graduating with a master of business administration were: Christina Renee Brickner, Clarksville; Carolyn Rae Flood, Henry; Donna Kay Hamilton, Paris; Anthony W. Heavner, Jackson; Ola Horton-Mallard, Paducah, Ky.; Terald Kiehn, Big Sandy; Monique Merriweather, Jackson; C. David Millard, Paris; Bradley G. Moore, Bradford; Michael J. Ojeda, Jackson; Angella Levette Palmer, Brownsville; Lisa Michelle Piercey, Jackson; Keith E. Reeves, Waynesboro; Noah Chad Shannon, Lawrenceburg; Marsha Gail McElFresh Shelby, Clarksville; Ernest D. Strickland, Memphis; Norman Alexander Turner, Clarksville; April Reed Wallace, Oxford, Miss.; Gloria S. Williams, Clarksville; Bradley Eugene Young, Jackson.