College Celebrates Largest-Ever Graduating Class

 In Local News

On a victoriously bright spring Saturday, Newberry College conferred a historic number of degrees upon the graduating class of 2024. The commencement exercises were held May 11 on Setzler Field.

The spring and summer class formed the largest in the college’s history, with 179 undergraduates and 17 graduate students, for a total of 196. The class also included the inaugural cohort for sport management and leadership, the college’s second master’s program, which launched earlier this year.

Commencement Addresses

Since 2014, the honor of the spring commencement addresses has been awarded to members of the graduating class, selected by fellow seniors, faculty and staff. This year’s addresses were delivered by Ishita Singh, a business administration major from New Delhi, India, and Vanessa Wilson, an elementary education major from Loganville, Georgia.

“Yes, there were those 7:45 a.m.s that we did not want to attend, but we knew that if we didn’t, we would not be here today. Our professors were sometimes tough on us, but they know their stuff,” said Singh. “I hope you remember how Newberry College has given us lifelong memories and prepared us to be future leaders.”

“I want you to realize that everything you’ve ever feared, you’ve survived,” said Wilson. “That is why you are here today: because you already know that you can overcome your fears. So, as we close this part of our journey, you have no reason to doubt yourselves. Be thankful for the fear. Be thankful for everything: from the struggles to the victories and everything in between.”


Special Awards

The college’s most senior member of the faculty, Dr. Jesse Scott, professor of history, was presented with the title ‘professor emeritus of history’ on his retirement at the end of the academic year. He joined the faculty in fall 1985 as an adjunct instructor, joined the faculty full-time in 1986, was promoted to associate professor in 1991, and earned his full professorship in 2001. One of his most significant achievements has been the founding of the Summerland Honors Community in 1995.

“You leave a legacy of passion, purpose and personal attention, and have enriched thousands of lives. Our earnest hope is that you may enjoy your well-earned retirement to the fullest,” said Dr. David Harpool, interim vice president for academic affairs.

As a special surprise, Scott also received the Luceo Mea Luce Award, the highest honor the faculty can bestow, given to individuals whose lives of devotion, learning and service exemplify the motto, “by my light, I enlighten.”

“His teaching, service, and scholarship — and his dedication to Newberry College and the local, state, national, and global communities we serve — stands as a powerful testament to the positive impact one person may make on countless lives,” said Dr. J. Tracy Power, associate professor of history and college archivist. “A modest estimate would be that he has taught, mentored, challenged, and encouraged more than five thousand students since 1985. Dr. Scott, we honor and celebrate your lifelong devotion to Newberry College with the Luceo Mea Luce Award.”

The graduating class presents the Dr. L. Grady Cooper Awards to a faculty member and a senior who exemplify the loyalty and devotion to Newberry College that Cooper demonstrated during his tenure as a professor of religion and Greek. This year’s recipients were Dr. J. Tracy Power and Ishita Singh.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan and Mary Mildred Sullivan Awards were established to honor one man and one woman of the graduating class who demonstrate outstanding character and service to others, traits valued by Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan. The awards were presented respectively to McGuire Raines, a biology major from Chapin, and Payton Cronen, a double-major in exercise science and sport management from Louisville, Kentucky.

The Dr. George B. Cromer Award, named for Newberry College’s fifth president, is presented by the faculty to the graduating senior who exemplifies academic excellence, leadership ability and personal integrity. This year, the honor was presented to Ja’kobe Bush, a social studies education major from Aiken.


Class of 2024 Quick Facts

The spring and summer graduates represented 20 states and nine other countries — Canada, Nigeria, the United Kingdom, Australia, the Bahamas, Sweden, India, Panama and Zimbabwe. The most popular majors were business administration (33), sport management (19), exercise science (18), nursing (16) and criminal justice (14). This year also saw the largest nursing class since 2013, as well as the largest master’s cohort since the college’s graduate-level accreditation in 2021.