NGU celebrates 2021 graduates with in-person commencement ceremony
Tigerville, SC (May 6, 2021) Seated six feet apart across a football field, yet bound together like no other class in decades, North Greenville University’s (NGU) 2021 graduates celebrated their degrees on a beautiful foothills evening Friday, April 30.
With their families looking on from the stands in Younts Stadium – socially distanced but thankfully inside the campus landmark – the graduates were challenged to “listen to God.”
“Do you do that?” asked commencement speaker Bill Reeves. “Do you spend any time in the day listening to him?”
Reeves is CEO of Educational Media Foundation, parent company of K-Love, the world’s largest contemporary Christian music radio network. He told the graduates his career path in the Christian entertainment business started when he listened to God as a 15-year-old at summer camp on NGU’s Tigerville campus.
That 33-year journey has taken him from Word Records to Big Idea Productions’ VeggieTales® brand, and work with Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins products before founding Working Title Agency and marketing major motion pictures including God’s Not Dead, I Can Only Imagine, and War Room. Reeves said when Centrifuge camp staff told teenagers to spend morning time in God’s Word, it directed his life.
“That morning in the middle of the summer in 1985, I listened to God, and I heard Him as if it was this morning. He said, ‘You’re going to use your skill sets to minister the Gospel.’”
Citing biblical accounts of Moses and Saul listening to God’s words, Reeves also relayed the story of a discouraged young pastor who sat on a hillside in 1949, listening to God. Like that man, Billy Graham, the graduates had the opportunity to hear God’s call on their lives, Reeves said.
“You’re facing a dark world,” he said. “There’s a lot of people that say your faith is a joke. Are you listening to God? Nothing you receive today when you walk across this stage will be worth anything if you’re not using that for what God’s telling you to do with your life. They have to go together.”
As evening descended on the stadium, NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr., conferred degrees on the 340 graduates, who then proceeded to the elevated stage to receive their diplomas as guests and senior faculty looked on. A massive video board, consisting of 144 connected panels, provided the backdrop.
Following extended applause from guests honoring the graduates, President Fant noted, “This has truly been a service of worship.” NGU professor Victor Prieto, the father of a graduating student, delivered the benediction as the mid-spring sunset painted brilliant orange clouds on the low horizon. The backdrop set the scene for scores of celebration photographs, providing a picturesque conclusion to an academic year that began in August under the stormclouds of a global pandemic.
Health science major set to begin work on Doctor of Physical Therapy
In a year when global health has been an overarching concern, one 2021 graduate is taking the next step in her journey toward a healthcare career. Jadyn Slaughter will use her health science degree to begin work on her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. She believes that overall health and wellness are the keystones to an optimally functioning society.
“God calls upon us to have good overall physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and wellness. We are all God’s precious creations and masterpieces, so we should try our best to preserve and maintain His masterpiece,” said Slaughter.
She wants to help people attain optimal health through the knowledge she has learned from textbooks, professors, and the Bible.
Slaughter plans to begin work on her Doctor of Physical Therapy (PT) and was accepted into all six graduate schools where she applied. She has decided to attend the Army Baylor program to serve in one of the four Navy positions for their graduate program. She will attend Officer Development School (ODS) in Newport, RI, after NGU graduation and graduate as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy.
“I will then travel to Fort Sam Houston in Texas to complete my graduate education in two and a half years,” she said. “After graduation and licensure, I will serve as an officer and physical therapist for the United States Navy.”
NGU Health Science majors complete a 240-hour internship in a health care setting they are interested in pursuing.
Slaughter completed an internship during the spring at Accelerated Physical Therapy in Travelers Rest, where she observed and assisted the physical therapist. Some of her responsibilities included cleaning, folding laundry, encouraging patients, and even rehabilitating some patients.
“Accelerated is a phenomenal clinic,” she said. “I highly recommend future Health Science students completing an internship there.”
“I actually applied to and visited about 10 colleges. These colleges were smaller, Christ-based institutions, and NGU definitely stood out from the other nine because the staff, students, and community on campus truly lived out and practiced the Christian message.”
She said being on the cross country and track team and being active in other extracurricular activities helped make the NGU community feel like one big family to her.
Her advice to prospective students is to have an open mind.
“Even though NGU is a Christian institution, you will meet many people with different opinions. And having an open mind and being open to new perspectives and ideas will truly make your college experience so much more enriched and special.”
She also recommends getting involved with campus life through a sport, intramurals, clubs, etc. Being involved will allow you to meet and connect with people. Along with this, she would recommend having a solid support network on campus.
“College is hard, so having a close network of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ is extremely helpful when times get tough. I know some people may be too afraid to branch out and make new friends when coming to college. However, all it takes is making that first step to say ‘hello’ to someone or sitting down with someone at lunch. Just take the first step, and the rest will follow.”
Slaughter would recommend NGU for students wanting to go into physical therapy and other health science-related fields.
“The health science major is one of the most popular majors on campus. The health science staff are so extremely encouraging and kind. As long as the students are willing to invest in themselves, the faculty and staff make it their mission to invest in each student.”
“My professors really helped prepare many other students and me for PT school. The curriculum challenges students’ knowledge of the human body and how it functions, and much of the curriculum is very hands-on, practical learning which is so crucial in the field of physical therapy.”
The health science faculty has been there alongside her every step of the way, and for that, she says she will forever be grateful. The professors are a significant reason she received the privilege and honor to serve her country in a field with so much respect and passion.
NGU offers more than 115 areas of study across certificate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and early college opportunities. Online. In-person. At our main campus in Tigerville, SC, the Tim Brashier Campus in Greer, SC, or several educational centers around the U.S. One university, many locations. Every day. Epic. Learn more.