Invoking the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Palm Beach Atlantic University commencement speaker and King scholar Dr. Terriel Byrd challenged graduates on Saturday to live in accordance with the University’s theme for this academic year, Engagement Empowers.
Dr. Byrd, who serves as professor of urban Christian ministry and coordinator of the evening ministry program at PBA, said that according to Dr. King, there are three dimensions of any complete life: length, breadth and height.
“To truly be empowered, you must be engaged on three levels,” Dr. Byrd told the nearly 200 graduates and the hundreds of family members, friends and guests in attendance.
The first dimension of life involves one’s own well-being, he said. “You can’t love others unless you love yourself,” Dr. Byrd said.
“This is the dimension of life in which individuals are concerned with developing inner power, with which one pursues the personal ends and ambitions.”
The breadth of life is when we are concerned about others, he said. Citing the story of the Good Samaritan, he said all people are interdependent on one another.
“We must surround … the length of life with the breadth of life. We must be concerned about others,” he said.
The third, and perhaps most important, dimension is height, he said. “We can never have a balanced life, a truly engaged life that empowers, unless we have an upward look at God,” he said.
Dr. Byrd said that after listening to two graduating seniors, Kyra Brundell and Debbie Levinsky, give their testimonies during senior chapels last week, he is convinced that PBA students are already engaged on multiple levels. “They get it. They live the engaged life that empowers,” he said.
Also during the ceremony, two of this semester’s Outstanding Graduates offered reflections on their time at PBA.
Rebekah Bouch, the Outstanding Graduate for the Rinker School of Business, entered PBA as a dance major but ended up changing her major to marketing. She reminded her fellow graduates to rely on God’s plan rather than their own.
“In the end, His plan is better and it’s going to give you a more fulfilling life,” Bouch said.
|Sasha St. Louis is the latest in a line of five PBA grads — from left, Widny '09, Vladmir '10, Sasha, Uriel Spring '12 and Jennifer '09.|
God also presents us with opportunities, but no more than we can handle, said Mylissa Fraser, the Outstanding Graduate for the School of Education and Behavioral Studies. “We are given a choice to seize those opportunities or simply allow them to pass,” she said.
Since her first semester, Fraser said she has been presented with opportunities to conduct research, present at conferences, participate in internships and gain work experience. “When we discover our true gifts and passions and set ourselves upon a path, the unimaginable can truly be achieved.”
The ceremony began with a moment of silent prayer in honor of the victims of Friday’s school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
For the first time, five MacArthur School of Leadership graduates who completed their coursework entirely online but who were unable to attend today’s ceremony because of geographic distance were recognized: Reena Bhardwaj, Talley Cooks, Marjorie Danford, Stephen Murell and Alvinia Peete.
Also during the program, Associate Professor of Philosophy Dr. Craig Hanson offered the invocation and West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio gave a greeting. Professor of Education Dr. Carmela Nanton gave the benediction.