Commencement Brings Big Crowds To Fayette

Approximately 400 Graduates Celebrate Achievements

May 14, 2019

By MAGGIE GEBHARDT / mgebhardt@centralmethodist.edu

Graduates thanking familyThe rain didn’t stop the celebration on Saturday, May 11, as about 400 Central Methodist University students joined friends and family to recognize their academic accomplishments.

Graduates earned master’s, bachelor’s, and associate degrees from CMU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) in Fayette and College of Graduate and Extended Studies (CGES) across the state and online.

The Baccalaureate ceremony, held in Linn Memorial United Methodist Church, welcomed Dr. David Kerr as the speaker. Dr. Kerr is a retired Elder in the UMC. The speaker for Commencement was Lew W. “Jay” Jacobs IV, the former president and managing director of PIMCO, a global investment management firm based in Newport Beach, Calif. Both guest speakers have extensive ties to CMU.

Jacobs receiving his degreeBefore Jacobs delivered his address to the graduates, CMU President Dr. Roger Drake awarded him with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

During Commencement, academic honors were announced by Provost Dr. Rita Gulstad, honors in the majors by Dr. Richard Bradley, and honors in clinical counseling by Dr. Theresa Keown.

Drake conferred the degrees after which Bradley J. Dixon, dean of students, recognized special achievements, and Laura Blair, president of the CMU Alumni Association, spoke to the new graduates.

One of the highly anticipated events of Commencement is the presentation of the highest awards given to graduates by the University – the Victoria Award, the Human Relations Award, and the most prestigious Selecman Award.

Named after Victoria Beecroft Cutter, the Victoria Award is given annually to a graduate who, in the opinion of faculty and students, has best demonstrated dedication and principles of CMU.

This year’s awardee was Rachel Topliss from England. Topliss graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education – Physical Education, Summa Cum Laude. She was the recipient of the Pannier, Cavanaugh, and Robb Excellence in Education Award, and a member of the Physical Education Majors Club, Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society, Alpha Chi, International Eagles Club, and Sigma Epsilon Pi sorority. She held leadership roles as the Women’s Soccer team captain for three years, Second Team All-Conference (’17), First Team in (’18), and an All-American (’18).

Established by Martha Smith Luck, the first female member of Central’s Board of Curators, the Human Relations Award is given annually to the graduate who shows the most promise in human relations and human adjustment – one who “attempts to develop the ability to get along with others and work with others,” developing liaison techniques in the area of human relations and understanding.”

Hudelson, Topliss, and StriegelThe awardee was Alexandra Hudelson from Old Monroe, Mo. Hudelson graduated with a Bachelor of Accountancy, Honors in the major, Summa Cum Laude. She earned numerous academic honors over her college career including Omicron Delta Kappa, Kappa Mu Epsilon, Delta Mu Delta and the CMU Dean’s List. Hudelson held leadership positions and obtained experience with the Student Government Association, Enactus, The Navigators and Williams Keepers. She is also committed to community involvement evidenced by her participation in mission trips to Uganda, Africa, Hollywood and Puerto Rico.

The most prestigious award given to a graduating senior is The Selecman Award, established in 1957 by Bishop Charles C. Selecman, a former Central student who became a Bishop in the United Methodist Church. He requested that the award be presented to the student who has displayed the following characteristics to an extraordinary degree: good citizenship on campus, scholarship, religious leadership, moral and spiritual qualities, and outstanding achievement.

This award was given to Brooke Striegel, from Holts Summit, Mo. Striegel graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Religion and Church Leadership, Honors in the major, Summa Cum Laude. She is the recipient of the T. Cecil Swakhamer Award, the Inscape Creative Nonfiction Award, and the Noble Emmett Basket Scholarship in Business Award. She is a member of the Theta Alpha Kappa Honor Society and Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society.
Striegel was an active member in the Navigators, chapel band, and the Conservatory Singers. She was the student director of the Worship Band, and served as a peer to peer tutor in CMU’s Center for Learning and Teaching and Writing Center. Striegel is also committed to community involvement evidenced by her participation in mission trips to Uganda and Nicaragua.