UAHT confers 618 diplomas and certificates during commencement
Hempstead Hall was overflowing with guests last night as 413 students (up 15 percent from last year) walked the stage during the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana (UAHT) Commencement Ceremony. This year, 618 degrees and certificates were awarded to deserving graduates, a number that has increased 25 percent since last year’s ceremony.

After the presentation of the flag and Pledge of Allegiance from Scouts Troop 5 and the singing of the national anthem by UAHT's Haley Patillo-Thompson, UAHT Chancellor Dr. Christine Holt welcomed guests and shared a few words with the audience, a good portion of which were the soon-to-be graduates adorned in all their regalia. She advised them, “En route to your destination, remember to appreciate your journey. All too often we are concerned with that end goal; equally as important is learning from that journey as you reach your goal.” Holt then encouraged them to achieve greatness, giving a few tips and tidbits for aspiring to that endeavor, and she closed by sharing with them her expectations as they move forward. “I don’t expect you to remember every word that I’ve said today,” she said. “I do expect you to aspire to greatness: greatness in your scholarly performance, greatness in your commitment to your family and friends, greatness in your career pursuits, and greatness in your service to mankind.”

Holt also shared with the audience a few special awards for this academic year. Pamela Vanhook received the Outstanding Faculty Member Award, and Jolane Cook received the Outstanding Staff Member Award.

Dr. Donald Bobbitt, UA System President, addressed the students next and began by congratulating them on the momentous occasion. “This is really a very significant milestone in your lives. ... You had the fortitude and the drive to stick to it,” he said. Bobbitt then shared advice that he said was accrued from conferring with colleagues in the UA system. Among his tips was to value getting a job for the experience and reflecting on the past to understand one’s journey, He had this pointer for the graduates, “Kindness rules.” He elaborated further by saying, “Be generous with your kindness. Kindness expressed towards others is often free. It takes a minimal amount of time and yet it can be the difference between success and failure. … I urge you to be kind and lift up your fellow travelers.” After sharing a few more tidbits for these students about to begin a new chapter in their lives, he closed by saying, “I wish you godspeed as you write your history. Know that the experiences that will shape you in the years ahead began right here, and those experiences changed you, as they have me, in ways that are still to be revealed.” 

Following the heartfelt messages presented by the speakers, the students were then called to the stage to receive their certificates and diplomas. Proud families and supporters looked on as each of the 413 students walked the stage to receive their degree/certificate and become an official graduate of UAHT. Included were the students in the Collegiate Academy, high school students who have spent the last few years simultaneously earning their high school diploma and an associate degree from UAHT. Hope Collegiate Academy graduated 23 students, and Arkansas High Collegiate Academy graduated 16.

After the conferring of the last degree and the time-honored tradition of moving their tassels, the students were now official graduates and were welcomed as new alumni by Freddie Smith, Chairman of UAHT Board of Visitors. “I want to encourage you to embrace every opportunity to explore, to learn, and to connect with other students, other alumni, and other divisions that have gone this way,” Smith said. His parting words to graduates, signifying the end of the ceremony, were “Please learn to live in the moment, to cherish, and to enjoy every single part of your journey. Get involved in your community and your church family, share with others and respect the history of UAHT, and whatever your next step, embrace the opportunity.”