Spring Commencement: Pfeiffer University celebrates the class of 2017

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Today Pfeiffer University conferred baccalaureate degrees on 165 new alumni as they celebrated Commencement 2017. The class of 2017, led by a bagpiper as they processed from Henry Pfeiffer Chapel to Merner Gymnasium for the ceremony, outpaced the rain that was threatening to dampen the festivities.

Commencement speaker, Dr. Donald B. Poe, Jr., professor of psychology and president of Pfeiffer’s faculty senate, was selected by his colleagues to address the graduates, as the university decided this year to celebrate the depth and scholarship of the faculty rather than invite an outside speaker as has been tradition.

Urging the class of 2017 to “choose the values around which you organize your lives,” Dr. Poe offered the following as guiding principles: commit to lifelong learning; read, read, read; patronize the arts; travel domestically and internationally; and participate in public affairs.

Among those graduating today are 11 students from Stanly County and 22 from neighboring Rowan County. Overall, the vast majority of this year’s class hail from across North and South Carolina, with several from California, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia. Internationally, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, France, Spain, and Trinidad and Tobago were represented.

Dillon Chase Malloy, Waxhaw, N.C., was awarded the Pearle Walton Fisher Citizenship Award for his record of scholarship and service. Mr. Malloy, a health and exercise science major and Milton Rose Scholar, captain of the men’s lacrosse team, peer tutor and vice president of the Health and Exercise Science Club, has been accepted to Drexel University’s doctoral program in neuroscience.

Holly Michele Brigman, China Grove, N.C., a nursing major, received the Senior Scholastic Achievement Award, which is presented annually to the member of the graduating class with the highest grade point average. Ms. Brigman, with a 4.0 GPA, also earned the Department of Nursing’s academic achievement award this year. She has accepted a position with Carolinas Health Care, Behavioral Health-Davidson; she will start upon passing her state nursing board exams.

Pfeiffer surprised graduate James Vanbencoten, Jr., of Asheboro, whose service dog Marlee has been by his side throughout his enrollment. When he and Marlee crossed the stage, president Keith presented Marlee with an “Honorary Bachelor’s Degree in Canine Science and Dogmatic Therapy.”