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Randolph-Macon College celebrated Commencement on June 2, 2018 at Day Field.

More than 340 graduates—a record number for R-MC—joined the ranks of Randolph-Macon alumni during the Commencement ceremony.

Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degrees
This year’s Commencement speaker was Elizabeth E. Kiss, president of Agnes Scott College. Kiss has long been a champion for women's colleges, boosting enrollment and encouraging students to learn from a global perspective. Agnes Scott, a national liberal arts college for women in Decatur, Georgia, currently enrolls 940 students. During her tenure there, Kiss led the design and launch of SUMMIT, a program in which every student designs an individualized course of study, with co-curricular and international experiences. Under President Kiss' leadership, the college has been named a "Top Fulbright Producer," with 30 Fulbright Awards given during her tenure.

Kiss began her higher education career in 1987 at Randolph-Macon College, where she was a visiting professor in the Department of Philosophy. She also taught at Princeton University and Deep Springs College. In 1996, Kiss became the Nannerl O. Keohane Founding Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics and an associate professor of the practice of political science and philosophy at Duke University. In this role, Kiss helped to build a university-wide initiative that supports the study and teaching of ethics and promotes moral reflection and commitment in personal, professional, community and civic life.

This is Kiss’ final year at Agnes Scott College. She was recently named Warden of Rhodes House at the University of Oxford, the chief executive role for the Rhodes Scholarship Program. Kiss will be the first female Warden of Rhodes House.

Kiss encouraged graduates to be open to life’s inevitable changes.

Kiss said, “What will continue to enrich and sustain you wherever you find yourself? You find it in Randolph-Macon’s mission statement:  mind and character.  Curiosity and the desire to learn new things will make your life interesting—and you an interesting person—wherever you go.  Courage, as the journalist Clare Booth Luce once said, ‘is the ladder on which all the other virtues mount’ and can sustain you in tough times.  Hope is a deliberate turning toward the light.   And love and kindness know no cultural or temporal boundaries and never go out of style. I encourage you to accept that you can’t connect the dots in advance and embrace life as an improvisational art. I challenge you to face the challenges of your time with pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will.  And I am confident that you will always remember that shiny things don’t last but shining things—curiosity, courage, hope and love—endure forever.  Shine on!”

R-MC awarded Kiss with an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree during the Commencement ceremony.

Three additional honorary degrees were presented during Commencement:

Joye M. Carter, M.D., the Forensic Pathologist for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff-Coroner's Office, received the Honorary Doctor of Science degree.

The first African American to be appointed a Chief Medical Examiner in the history of the United States, Carter worked as the deputy Chief Medical Examiner of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner Department; Chief Medical Examiner of the District of Columbia; Chief Medical Examiner of Harris County, Texas; and Chief Forensic Pathologist to the Coroner of Indianapolis, Indiana before taking on her current role.

John N. King, Ph.D. ’65 received the Honorary Doctor of Letters degree.

King is Distinguished University Professor Emeritus and Arts and Humanities and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English and of Religious Studies at The Ohio State University. As a scholar, King focuses on Renaissance and Reformation literary and cultural history. His scholarship includes studies of reformation literature, Tudor books, readers and royal iconography, the works of Edmund Spenser, John Milton, John Foxe and William Shakespeare.

Carol Estes-Williams, B.S., received the Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree.

Estes-Williams, who served as a Physical Education teacher at Collegiate School in Richmond, Virginia, also founded a softball tournament to benefit the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Richmond in honor of her son, who has Down Syndrome. The tournament is now in its 30th year. Estes-Williams is very active with Special Olympics, which in 2012 honored her with the Virginia H. Foster Winning Spirit Award.

Senior Speaker
This year’s Senior Speaker, Sean Ryan ’18, is a political science and communication studies major. Ryan served as a tour guide and as editor-in-chief of the Yellow Jacket newspaper. He was also a member of the Young Democrats and played on the basketball team for three years.

During his tenure at R-MC, Ryan learned firsthand about the world of politics during his participation in five politically-themed internships. Ryan will join the press team of the House Democratic Caucus in Washington, D.C., where he will do press and digital work for the Democratic members in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ryan encouraged his fellow gradates to live with purpose and realize their potential.

“The gifts and lessons we’ve learned here will stay with us far longer and be far more impactful than a piece of paper,” he said. “So, let’s be appreciative. Be thankful. Thankful for the sacrifice our parents made to send us here. Thankful for the relationships we’ve built with one another that will last a lifetime. How urgently will you live? Will you be someone or will you do something? Our time is limited but our potential is not.”

Senior Class Gift and Society of Alumni
The Senior Class Gift Campaign educates Randolph-Macon College seniors on the importance of philanthropy. By working in tandem with the Randolph-Macon Office of Annual Giving to create a student-driven fundraising campaign, the Senior Class Gift Committee aims to make the seniors’ first giving experience enjoyable and meaningful. The hope is that as a result, the seniors will recognize the importance of their generosity and continue the tradition of giving as alumni.

Each senior was asked to make a donation to the college and the Class of 2018 Gift reflects the collective sum of all their contributions. The Class of 2018 raised a total of more than $11,300 from 91 percent of their class.

Hunter Leemon ’00, Chair of the Society of the Alumni (SOA), thanked graduates for their generosity and officially welcomed them as the newest members of the SOA.

The Bruce M. Unger Award for Retiring Faculty
Professor Bruce M. Unger was a political science professor at R-MC for 40 years. Unger planned to retire in 2008 but lost his courageous fight against cancer before his retirement was official. The Bruce M. Unger Award was established to recognize the contributions of retiring faculty with more than ten years of service to the College. This year’s Unger Award recipients are Gregory Daugherty (classics), Mark Malin (Spanish) and Jiaxun Wu (Chinese).

Gregory Daugherty, who earned his B.A. from University of Richmond and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University, joined the faculty in 1976. He chaired the Department of Classics for more than 30 years.

Daugherty held the first Shelton H. Short III Professorship in the Liberal Arts, was twice named a recipient of the Thomas Branch Award for Teaching Excellence and received the Samuel Nelson Gray Distinguished Faculty Award. He won the Excellence in Teaching of Classics Award from the American Philological Association and the FLAVA Distinguished Service to Foreign Language Award. He also served as coordinator for the Virginia Governor’s Latin and Japanese Academies.

Mark Malin, who joined the faculty in 1997, earned his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from University of Colorado.

Malin's teaching interests span the instruction of Spanish language and literature at all levels, but he has a special affinity for Cervantes' masterpiece, Don Quijote, which he has taught as an Honors course. He twice received the Thomas Branch Excellence in Teaching Award, and he twice received the Art Conway Enthusiasm for Teaching and Learning Award. His research interests focus on the Spanish 18th-century novel as well as the influence of the Quijote on 18th-century literature in Spain.

Jiaxin Wu, senior lecturer in Chinese, joined the faculty in 1991 after serving as Dean of the Department of Foreign Languages at the Central University of Nationalities at Beijing. She earned her M.A. from the University of Pittsburgh.

Wu introduced the teaching of Chinese at Randolph-Macon and offered classes in Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced Chinese, Chinese Culture and Society, the History of Chinese Literature, and Modern Writers of China. The study of Chinese is now an integral component of R-MC’s major in Asian Studies. Wu is also a co-founder of A&C Business News, the largest Chinese newspaper in the metro Washington, D.C. area.

Senior Success
Newly minted graduates are setting their sights on a bright future.

Robert Parsons, a sociology/anthropology major, will follow the Vocational Rehabilitation Therapy track at Western Michigan University.

Tori Santiago Troutman, a history and music major, will begin graduate studies in the Ph.D. program in musicology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Sammi Scarola, a behavioral neuroscience and chemistry major, will begin graduate studies at the Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Fidele Ntumba, an economics and political science major and accounting and mathematics minor, will begin the Master of Finance program at Vanderbilt University – Owen Graduate School of Management this fall.

Priscilla Koirala, a chemistry major and Spanish minor, will begin graduate studies at VCU's School of Medicine this summer.

Rachel Salazar, a chemistry and biology major, will begin the Physician Assistant program at Shenandoah University this summer.

Joseph Hamilton, a psychology major, earned three Purple Hearts and currently serves as a consultant with the Department of Defense.

Lucy Andrews, a chemistry major, will begin studies at The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy this fall, where she will pursue a Doctor of Pharmacy degree.

Nicole Minahan, a biology major and religious studies minor, will begin the Master of Science in Nursing Entry into Nursing program at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing this fall.

Essence Ellis, a religious studies major, will begin graduate studies at Yale Divinity School this fall.