A total of 889 candidates for graduation marched across the stage May 10 in Coastal Carolina University’s spring commencement ceremony at Brooks Stadium. A total of 1,081 candidates were eligible to participate in the ceremony.
U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, was the commencement speaker.
In her address, Trethewey described her own experiences as a college student. When she was a freshman at the University of Georgia, her mother was killed by her stepfather. Due to her sense of grief and dislocation, she went through college largely “without direction,” sampling courses that interested her. Only later did she discover that her interdisciplinary approach “prepared me for the moment I would recognize what I was meant to do.”
Trethewey told the graduates that “education is a privilege” involving great responsibility. She encouraged the Class of 2014 to “question received notions about things” and to cultivate a sense of “historical awareness, civic duty and personal responsibility. Pursue the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you.”
Trethewey received the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters at the ceremony.
Seven students received the President’s Award for Academic Achievement, which recognizes students with the highest cumulative grade point averages. The following recipients of the award all had perfect 4.0 grade point averages, graduating summa cum laude: Chelsey M. Beese, a mathematics and marine science major from Green Bay, Wis.; Emily K. Bernard, an accounting major of Myrtle Beach; Richard D. Floyd Jr., a physics major of Murrells Inlet; Tonya M. Hewitt, an elementary education major of Conway; Jessie N. Rowan, an elementary education major from Mullins; Aaron J. Smith, a computer science and mathematics major of Conway; and Matthew C. Tyler, a history major from Loris.
Also during the ceremony, Terrell Johnson, graduating from CCU’s Reserve Officers’ Training Cadet (ROTC) program, received his commission from his father, Brig. Gen. Walter F. Johnson.
Four retiring CCU faculty members were recognized for their service: Linda Henderson, emeritus professor, James Henderson, distinguished emeritus professor; Philip Little, distinguished emeritus professor; and Gary Stegall, distinguished emeritus professor.
Linda Henderson joined the CCU business faculty in 1986 after serving in the Peace Corps. She chaired the Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics for 13 years and was instrumental in the development of CCU’s MBA and Master of Accountancy programs and well as the accreditation of CCU’s Wall College of Business by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
James Henderson, who joined the CCU faculty in 1986, is an expert in Latin American history and has published many books and articles on the subject. He served in the Peace Corps in Colombia in the late 1960s. In addition to his teaching and scholarship, he has served actively on many committees and boards including the Faculty Senate.
Philip Little joined the CCU faculty in 2008. In his 30-year academic career he has published nearly 100 articles in scholarly journals and won multiple teaching awards. In addition to his academic career, he has also contributed to many business start-ups and worked as a consultant.
Gary Stegall has led a distinguished career as both a solo and chamber pianist. He has performed in North, Central and South America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Scandinavia. He received a Fulbright scholarship to Brussels, where he studied the music of composer Joseph Jongen. Stegall joined the CCU faculty in 1998.