BOLIVAR – With 581 graduates, Southwest Baptist University’s (SBU) May 2014 graduating class was the largest in the University’s 136-year history. The commencement ceremony also included the annual presentation of three prestigious awards: two Life Beautiful Awards and Orien B. Hendrex Distinguished Teacher Award.
The 2014 recipients of the Life Beautiful Award are Kara Phipps of Bolivar and Alex Huff of Da Nang, Vietnam.
Phipps graduated with a bachelor of science in biology. She has received multiple honors while at SBU, is a member of the Gordon & Judy Dutile Honors Program Leadership Council and his been a biology research team leader since 2012. She is a member of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Bolivar, where she is part of the worship team and leads a Bible study. She participated in three mission trips while at SBU. One faculty member wrote, “Kara has a quiet, sweet spirit. She is patient and kind, always considerate of others. She is a true servant leader.”
She is the daughter of Michael and Tammy Phipps, both SBU graduates. Her brother Josiah was the male 2013 Life Beautiful recipient.
Huff graduated with a bachelor of science degree in economic and finance. He was selected as the Outstanding Business Administration graduate and is in the Dutile Honors program. He attends Alliance Christian Fellowship in Bolivar and served on two mission trips through SBU. One faculty member wrote, “He greets everybody with a smile and a can-do attitude. He takes the time to listen and get to know others. Alex has a heart for missions and sharing the gospel around the world.”
He is the son of Bob and Kathleen Huff.
The Life Beautiful Award was established in 1937 by Rosalee Mills Appleby, a career missionary to Brazil. This award is given annually to an outstanding man and woman in the Southwest Baptist University spring graduating class.
Shannon L. Gray of Schell City delivered the Bob R. Derryberry Senior Address, reminding her classmates that though they have encountered difficult times during college, God sees the potential and beauty of each graduate.
Senior music was provided by Katelyn Hicks and Shelby Johnson accompanied by Tammie Pennington.
Charles Graham, founder of Charles Graham Ministries, and a 2007 recipient of an honorary doctorate from SBU, told the graduates that God has a purpose for everything that has and will happen in their lives.
“Don’t allow a world of circumstances to rob you of your purpose,” he said. “You may get your position, you may get your pay raises, but I want you to understand that the purpose is not the position nor your pay. The purpose will always be people. God will always use us in the lives of those around us.”