|PBA softball coach Kimmy Carter Bloemers shares about her late father -- PBA baseball coach and Major League Baseball Hall-of-Famer Gary Carter.|
PBA student Lauren Graham and PBA softball coach Kimmy Bloemers were the surprise guest speakers at a record-setting spring commencement at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. More than 540 degrees, the largest number in school history, were conferred during the ceremony.
Graham, who was in a coma for almost three weeks and hospitalized for more than two months following the accident 11 months ago, described a photograph that was taken two days after the crash. It was a photo of a group of young women from PBA and her home church sitting in a circle and praying in her hospital room.
|PBA Interim President William M.B. Fleming Jr. addresses graduates and guests.|
|PBA graduates celebrate after the ceremony.|
“This group of righteous young ladies begged God to glorify Himself through my healing. And they represented thousands of people around the world who were crying out on my behalf around the clock and around the globe,” said Graham, who had just returned from a PBA mission trip to India at the time of the accident.
“The reason God chose to answer their prayer and not the prayer of others rests within the domain of His divine prerogative,” she said. “But the fact that I’m even able to stand here today is nothing short of supernatural.”
Graham closed her brief remarks by reminding graduates that tomorrow morning, their attention would be divided among 1,000 different things. However, “please be righteous, be earnest and pray,” she said.
Bloemers, daughter of the late Sailfish head baseball coach and Major League Baseball Hall-of-Famer Gary Carter, also spoke about the transforming power of prayer.
When her father was diagnosed with brain cancer last May, “we were on our knees asking the Lord to take away Dad’s pain and to heal him completely,” Bloemers said.
Carter’s battle ended on Feb. 16 after nine months of treatment. “Even though we want my dad here and we all miss him so much, my prayers were in fact answered, just in a different way than I had envisioned,” she said.
“My dad is healed and is no longer suffering in pain and is experiencing joy like we can’t imagine.”
Bloemers encouraged graduates to surround themselves with friends and family and to find their ultimate strength in the Lord.
“I challenge you to ask Him for guidance, to run toward your goals and to take the Lord with you as you face each chapter from this day forward,” she said. “Remember the Lord is not just with you at your Christian university. He is always with you no matter where life takes you.”
PBA Interim President William M.B. Fleming Jr. opened the commencement ceremony by dedicating the proceedings in the memory of student John Doerr, who was killed in a motorcycle crash last fall; staff member Jeaneen Woodruff, who lost her battle with esophageal cancer earlier this year; and Coach Carter.
Other speakers included West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio and two of this year’s outstanding graduates, Amber Braaten and Craig Davidson Jr.
Davidson, who received a degree in pre-law, said he came to PBA with ambitions to conquer the world.
“I leave PBA in submission to a God who has conquered the world,” he said.
The ceremony was noteworthy for other reasons as well. Graduate Gabriel Monfiston of Miami, newly commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, received his degree in nursing. He will join the Army’s nursing corps.
Also commissioned was ROTC cadet and communication major Trisha Storck of Lake Worth. She plans to work in military intelligence in the U.S. Army Reserves.
Senior Alexandria Wensinger of Melbourne, Fla., became first student to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in public relations from the School of Communication and Media, and June Casey of West Palm Beach became the oldest student to graduate from PBA at age 75.
Casey, who serves as a mental health counselor at the Royal Palm Beach campus of Christ Fellowship Church, received a Master of Science degree in counseling psychology.
The Rev. Randy Bare, pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church, gave the invocation, and PBA trustee Wayne Cotton offered the benediction.