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Trinity confers 500 degrees at 120th annual commencement ceremonies
Trinity CommunicationsMay 13, 2017
Trinity International University marked its spring commencement for about 500 students — one of its largest classes in recent years — at ceremonies conducted this month in Illinois, Florida, and California.
In Deerfield, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS), Trinity Graduate School, and Trinity College conferred about 400 degrees during ceremonies May 12-13 in Van Dixhorn Arena. Students who completed their work at Trinity’s South Chicago campus in Dolton took part in the Deerfield ceremony.
Within this 120th annual commencement, the graduates hold citizenship in 21 nations. They come from all six of the world’s inhabited continents.
In Santa Ana, Calif., Trinity Law School graduated 51 students in ceremonies May 13 at First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton, while 50 students from Trinity’s Florida campus in Miramar graduated in a ceremony at First Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale May 6.
“We are grateful for each one of these fine graduates and wish God’s best for them,” President David S. Dockery said. “The large graduating class marks enhanced retention efforts in recent years from the Trinity faculty and student life staff. We are hopeful about the future influence that so many of these graduates will have in key opportunities of service in the days to come.”
Evangelical Free Church of America President Kevin Kompelien delivered the Deerfield commencement address, titled “The Heart of the Matter.” Kompelien, a 1983 TEDS Master of Divinity graduate and Trinity Board of Regents member, referenced Matthew 6:21, which says, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
“A degree from a great institution like Trinity will not lead to eternal Kingdom impact if your heart isn’t right,” Kompelien told the graduates. “The heart is who you really are.”
Among the PhD graduates in Deerfield are two key campus leaders.
Paige Cunningham, executive director of The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity, received a PhD in educational studies. Her doctoral dissertation is titled “Becoming Bioethically Confident: The Contribution of Learning Experiences in Seminary and Congregational Ministry to Evangelical Pastors’ Wise Leadership on Bioethical Concerns.”
Felix Theonugraha, vice president for student life and university ministries, also received a PhD in educational studies. His doctoral dissertation is titled “‘You can’t change the past, but the future is your responsibility:’ The Influence of White Identity on Teaching and Learning for White Doctoral Students in Theological Schools.”
The TEDS PhD Class of 2017 also features a husband-wife combination. James and Ruth Park eventually plan to serve as missionaries in East Asia. James received a PhD in intercultural studies, while Ruth earned a PhD in educational studies. Ruth defended her dissertation within days of giving birth to the couple’s second son.
“James and I often jokingly say that we have mastered conflict resolution throughout the process of completing our programs,” Ruth Park said. “Looking back, we saw God’s faithfulness in this situation. We received a lot of encouragement from mentors and friends from the Trinity community and our church community.”
James’ sister Grace Park also graduated with an MA in theological studies.
Several members of the Trinity family celebrated commencement milestones. Among them:
- Ian Gilliam received a BA in business communication. He is the son of Head Soccer Coach Patrick Gilliam.
- Erin Guthrie received a BA in graphic design. She is the daughter of Professor of Educational Ministries Donald Guthrie.
- Hope Johnson received a BA in music performance and psychology. She is the daughter of TEDS Associate Dean H. Wayne Johnson. Hope is the fourth family member to graduate from Trinity College.
- David Woodbridge received an MA in systematic theology. He is the son of TEDS Research Professor of Church History and the History of Christian Thought John Woodbridge.
- Melissa May Younger received an MA in theological studies. She is the daughter-in-law of TEDS Professor of Old Testament, Semitic Languages, and Ancient Near Eastern History K. Lawson Younger.
In Florida, Class of 2017 Valedictorian Linda A. Bryan completed a master’s degree in counseling psychology. Bryan enrolled in Trinity’s EXCEL undergraduate program for working adults in 2010, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology with top honors in 2014. She acknowledges God’s grace and the love and support of her family, friends, and church for giving her the strength to persevere through seven years of school.
In California, JD graduate Shelley Henderson held multiple roles at the White House, U.S. Department of Education, and U.S. House of Representatives before attending Trinity Law School. She recently received acceptance into the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University. Narcis Brasov came to the United States as a Romanian refugee in the early 1980s and became fluent in both English and Spanish. He earned his JD in 2017 while teaching Spanish at a local high school.
Trinity Law School honored Jim Palmer with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Palmer was instrumental in the development of the Orange County Rescue Mission. He also provided expertise in helping Trinity form a community legal clinic.
Four members of the Deerfield faculty retired at the end of spring semester. At Trinity College, Professor of Music Paul Satre, Associate Professors of Education Paul Worfel and Peter Wright are retiring. At TEDS, Professor of Mission and Intercultural Studies Jim Plueddemann is retiring. Satre and Plueddemann carried the University Mace into Van Dixhorn Arena.
Satre has taught at Trinity for 21 years and conducted music for both commencement ceremonies. He is also a Trinity College graduate who looks forward to staying connected via social media with former students during his retirement years.
“One goal is to pursue more publication of the arrangements I’ve written over the last 21 years for the Concert Choir,” Satre said. “I will continue my position as organist at Moody Church and in my work with a local community choir.”
The Deerfield ceremonies played live at stream.tiu.edu, where archived recordings of those events are available.