Converse College conferred 130 degrees during its 114th commencement May 20 in Twichell Auditorium.
The college also presented the prestigious Mary Mildred Sullivan Award to one graduate and a community leader, and several academic and scholarly achievement awards to graduates and Converse faculty members.
William M. Campbell III, president of Discovery Networks U.S. delivered the commencement address. A native of Greenville, SC, Campbell has served in his current role since 2002. He has guided the teams responsible for the launch of numerous new series and specials across the company’s networks.
In his address, Campbell offered the graduates a serious of life lessons. “Real life beckons you,” he said. “Your education will carry you through the years but the world you are about to enter is traveling at Mach speed. The mantra of ‘live and learn’ is one that you should carry with you. You should not be afraid of failing because you learn more from your failures. When those failures come, just dust yourself off. You should also dream big and use your imagination daily.”
Graduating senior Jennifer Anne Wahl of Smyrna, GA and Spartanburg community leader Barbara Mattson were presented with the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award for their demonstrated exemplary citizenship through their positive influence and special achievements within the community.
Wahl, a history major, was commended for making exemplary contributions to the life of the college, her fellow students, and to the community at large. During her sophomore year, her mother lost a brave battle to cancer. Out of love and devotion to her mother’s memory, Wahl motivated hundreds of college students from Converse and neighboring schools in raising tens of thousands of dollars for the American Cancer Society during the formation of The Relay for Life of Spartanburg Colleges.
Wahl’s passion for the Converse Honor Tradition has been reflected by her several years of service on its board and her current tenure as its Chair.
Throughout her time at Converse, Wahl has motivated her peers towards great success through service in the Converse College Institute for Leadership, Project Serve, Crescent, The Student Government Association, and numerous community service efforts.
Barbara Mattson was honored for her devotion to serving her fellow blind citizens. For them she has transcribed books, correspondences, and tapes; edited a Braille newspaper; managed an equipment clearinghouse for blind clients throughout the world at no cost; and served on the Mayor of Spartanburg’s Committee for Employment of the Handicapped.
As an amateur ham radio operator, Mattson stands at the ready to assist with coordination in Spartanburg County during emergencies. In this capacity, she has provided significant assistance to The Piedmont Chapter of The American Red Cross following tornados and other storms. In 2004, she was recognized with The South Carolina Single Sideband Net Award for her twenty years of managing and participating in amateur radio emergency training activities.
Spartanburg has also benefited from Mattson’s gifted voice. She has performed with The Spartanburg Festival Chorus, The Spartanburg Repertory Company, and The Charleston Opera Company. She also sings in the choir of The Unitarian Universalist Church of Spartanburg where she also records church services, and duplicates and distributes tapes.