Approximately 350 Freed-Hardeman University students received degrees Saturday morning, May 14, at the school’s spring commencement. In addition to baccalaureate and graduate degrees, 11 high school students enrolled in the university’s early admission program were awarded Associate in Arts degrees.
FHU Board of Trustees Chair and TriStar Bank Chief Executive Officer Ted Williams delivered the commencement address. He encouraged graduates to emulate God in their lives. “God was a giver,” he said. “He gave his son.”
Williams noted the excitement of the day and graduates’ anticipation of the future; however, he cautioned them. “Don’t spend so much time focusing on what’s next,” he said. “Instead, enjoy the journey.”
Remembering the wedding gifts he and his wife Sharon received 36 years ago, Williams compared “everyday dishes” and “the good china.” The couple started with 12 plates in each set. Today they only have five of the everyday dishes, but the set of good china is still intact, he said. Only used two or three times a year when everyone was on their good behavior, the good china survived on its shelf to be observed but not engaged. The everyday dishes engaged in the struggles of everyday living. “Be an everyday dish,” Williams said. “Engage in this world provided by our Creator; especially invest in your spiritual well-being.”
Finally, illustrating his point with the life cycle of a butterfly which must struggle to escape the
cocoon in order to be strong, Williams told his audience to welcome the struggles of life. “My prayer,” he said, “as you journey from event to event, is that you will embrace the challenges and struggles of the journey.”
Following Williams’ address, FHU Provost and Vice President for Academics C.J. Vires presented the Faculty Scholarship-Leadership medal to Corey Sweatt, of Dyer, Tennessee. The award has been presented annually since 1938 to the student in the graduating class who possesses to the highest degree the following attributes: ability, quality of work, accuracy, love of knowledge and leadership.” It is accompanied by a cash award made possible by FHU’s Alpha Chi Honor Society.
Sweatt graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in history and in secondary education. He was a member of Alpha Chi and the Honors College and graduated with University Honors. A prolific reader, he has taken a variety of rigorous and challenging courses and is very dedicated to the Great Books courses offered through FHU’s Honors College.
A true servant-leader, Sweatt has served a variety of organizations dedicated to improving the lives of others, including the American Cancer Society, the Carl Perkins Center and Mid-South Youth Camp. In addition, he helped organize FHU’s inaugural Servants’ Day.
Although Sweatt could have easily chosen a more lucrative career, he has chosen to be a teacher because he wants to serve children. He believes that teaching is the path for him to serve God and His kingdom most effectively. Already, he has passed the Tennessee state-required assessments for licensure to teach four secondary subjects: history, math, English language arts and government. He has accepted a position teaching math in Chester County Schools.
To conclude the commencement program, FHU President David R. Shannon reiterated the significant events of the 2021-22 school year and issued a challenge to graduates. He urged them to pray, serve, love and work like Jesus. “Live a life for His glory,” he said, “and remember God loves you more than anyone.” Quoting Isaiah 49:16, Shannon reminded them God said, “See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.”
The mission of Freed-Hardeman University is to help students develop their God-given talents for His glory by empowering them with an education that integrates Christian faith, scholarship and service.
With locations in Henderson and Memphis, FHU offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist and doctoral degrees. More information is available at fhu.edu.