HLG sees 178 receive degrees
Hannibal – A graduate generally wears two faces. One being the face of a giddy teenager entering into the college world, excited about all the friends they will make and the fun times to be had. The other is the face of an adult, preparing to take a step forward into the “real world” with their heads held high and armed with an abundance of knowledge and the tools needed to succeed in life. Whichever face they choose to wear after they walk across the stage has a lot to do with how well the institution has prepared them. Hannibal-LaGrange College (HLG) has confidence that they are sending nothing but capable adults out into the world, for they have been instilled with the college motto “Knowledge for Service.”
On May 5, the campus of HLG overflowed with 178 graduates, their families and friends as the school celebrated its commencement exercises. The college conferred an additional 57 degrees in December totaling 235 graduates for the 2006-07 academic year.
Woodrow W. Burt, HLG president, welcomed guests and praised the graduates on their accomplishments.
“This is a highly significant occasion on our campus, in fact to a great extent, this is what we are all about,” said Burt. “For these graduates this day marks the achievement of goals set long ago and met through diligent study and personal sacrifice. For the families and friends of graduates this day marks the fulfillment of dreams shared and fostered through the years.
“Graduates, William J. Bryan once wrote, ‘destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved,’” continued Burt. “You sit here today because years ago you made a significant choice and in turn you have achieved an important goal in your life. On behalf of the entire HLG family we commend and congratulate you.”
The speaker for this year’s commencement was U.S Rep. Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo. Elected to Congress in 1996, Hulshof is in his sixth term serving the 25 counties in northeastern and central Missouri that make up Missouri’s Ninth Congressional District.
“You have completed this part of your life’s journey,” Hulshof said. “You have grown, you have matured, and you have received a unique and complete education.”
Hulshof addressed the graduates and audience on the strong influence of family and the value represented in the HLG college motto.
“One of the reasons why I am such a fan of this institution, Hannibal-LaGrange College, is because of the values that you communicate—values that I share. Those values are emulated in that motto or that creed ‘Knowledge for Service.’”
Hulshof went on to describe the ultimate example of service and the limitations of government in respect to service.
“Service requires passion. Service requires compassion. The perfect example of passion and compassion, and that perfect example of a servant is Jesus Christ,” said Hulshof. “Government has a part in providing and protecting the most vulnerable in our society, but government cannot put hope in anyone’s heart. Government cannot provide a sense of purpose in someone’s life. The reality is that when there is a broken life, it takes a personal interaction—a meeting of the hearts. Yes, you have been armed with knowledge and yet that knowledge requires something over and above that, that being service. Because it is in the hardship of our neighbors that we find our calling, our willingness to serve others relying on the goodness of this great land and the boundless grace of God.”
Hulshof challenged the class of 2007 to make the most of their education by living a life of service.
“Milestones like this are important and yet it is what we do from this milestone forward that really makes the difference,” said Hulshof. “So let us make the most of this moment. This moment has given you an opportunity that some never have the chance to have. Let us then live lives that are not just rich in goods but lives that are rich in goodness. Let us then go from this day to live lives that are not just the envy of a few, but an inspiration for the many.”
Members of his district and regional offices, including HLG alumni Scott Callicott who serves as Hulshof’s northern regional director, accompanied Hulshof. Callicott was instrumental in securing HLG’s commencement on the congressional representative’s calendar. A native of Bertrand. Hulshof is married to Renee (Howell) Hulshof, of Hannibal and a graduate of the Journalism School at the University of Missouri. Residents of Columbia, the Hulshofs have two daughters, Casey and Hanna.
Also at commencement, the Parkway Distinguished Scholar award was awarded to David Pelletier, professor of Christian education and associate dean of academic affairs at HLG. The $1,000 award is given by Parkway Baptist Church in St. Louis. Selection for the award is based on professional and personal outstanding contributions to Christian education.
Pelletier holds a bachelor of arts degree from Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., a master of divinity degree from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and master of religious education and doctor of philosophy degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. He has also taught science at the junior high and high school levels and served numerous churches in pastoral roles, and has been an advocate for the use of technology in ministry, writing articles for publication and leading workshops and training events in churches.
Pelletier has served at HLG since 1986 and exemplifies a servant-leader as he serves as both a professor of Christian education and as associate dean of academic affairs. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he is responsible for course scheduling, college catalog revisions, and other administrative tasks. He humbly does much of the behind-the-scenes work that keeps the college program running smoothly. He and his wife, Jane, reside in Hannibal.