HANNIBAL – In its first May commencement since shifting from HLG to HLGU, Hannibal-LaGrange University awarded 32 associate’s, 152 bachelor’s and three master’s degrees May 7 at the Mabee Sports Complex.
Julie Barnhill, a graduate of HLG’s class of 1987 and mother of class of 2011 graduate Kristen Barnhill, was the commencement speaker. Originally from Brunswick, she earned her bachelor’s in elementary education from HLG and is now an author, TV and radio personality. She has written 11 books and has been a guest on the Oprah show in 2002.
Julie Barnhill gave a challenging to the graduates, warning that “life is going to come at you … hard.”
“Despite your looks, age and grade point average, you will discover that you don’t have it all together,” she said. “I have been 22, but you have never been 45.”
She advised students to do what they love, not be afraid to make mistakes, but most of all, rely not their degree, but rely on God.
“All of history is hurtling toward a set point,” she said. “It’s bigger than you, it’s bigger than your class and it’s bigger than your degree. You’re being pursued by the God of Heaven. Remember above all else the preeminence of Jesus Christ.
“Listen, class of 2011: I know you’re a mess and you may not know what you want to do with your life, but God knows you, sees you, and delights in you. Whatever you end up doing, it won’t be a surprise to Him.”
Katherine Burt, professor of English, chair of both the Department of English and the Division of Education and wife of HLGU President Woodrow Burt, won the Parkway Distinguished Professor Award. The honor is given and chosen by Parkway Baptist Church, St. Louis.
Marilyn Lehenbauer, who serves as the HLGU mailroom supervisor, earned the first Staff Member of the Year Award.
BRIAN KOONCE/staff writer