A total of 261 students participated in Coastal Carolina University's fall commencement ceremony Dec. 9 at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
Commencement speaker Terri Sinclair, an instructor of music and choir director at Coastal, urged graduates to choose a career path that will fulfill their passion rather than "a job based around the house/car/salary mode of planning your future" simply because society values "those who have risen to the top of the fiscal food chain."
"Each of you has the potential to achieve absolute fulfillment and richness according to this mode of future planning - the one that's based on determining your true passion and the legacy you want to leave," said Sinclair.
"The second option, a career, is the road less often traveled because it takes the focus off of obtaining things and puts it on the seeking of personal and professional fulfillment as a vital part of your life's roadmap," said Sinclair, who was named the 2006 Distinguished Teacher of the Year, an annual honor presented by Coastal's Student Government Association to faculty who demonstrate excellence in teaching.
Receiving honorary degrees in public service were Col. William J. Baxley Jr., longtime CCU professor and administrator; M. Lois Eargle, auditor of Horry County and former state legislator; Emma Lou Johnson, a Conway civic leader known for her work promoting the fine arts; and H. Neyle Wilson, president of Horry-Georgetown Technical College.
Two students received the President's Award for Academic Achievement, which recognizes students with the highest cumulative grade point average. The recipients of the award were Brittany Rose Nelson, a marketing and management major of Highland Village, Texas, and Sherry Kathleen Pittman, a biology major of Conway. Both students earned a 4.0 grade point average and graduated with summa cum laude honors.
Nelson was a student athlete for her four years at Coastal, a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, the business honor society, and a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. She has been working as an account executive for Worldwide Express in Columbia. A pitcher Coastal's softball team, she played in the 2006 Big South Softball Championship against Radford.
Pittman was a peer mentor, a member of Omicron Delta Kappa leadership society, and presented her honors thesis research paper at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research last April in Asheville, N.C. She plans to attend graduate school and earn a Ph.D. in immunology.
Retiring Coastal professors Linda Schwartz and Stephen West and the late William D. Davis were recognized as emeriti faculty.
Schwartz joined the Coastal English faculty in 1968 and wrote several MLA documentation textbooks. West joined the Coastal faculty in 1979 and taught mathematics and statistics courses both in the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Computer Science. Davis joined Coastal's sociology faculty in 1975 and taught a variety of courses ranging from the sociology of religion to gerontology.