Converse College Celebrates the Class of 2019

Converse College Celebrates the Class of 2019

The Class of 2019 process across Johnson Plaza

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Throughout their four years at Converse, the Class of 2019 has explored their interests, developed their individual passions, and honed their personal definitions of success. They leave our gates as passionate, service-oriented citizens who stand ready to make a positive difference in their professions and communities.

On Saturday, May 18, Converse held commencement ceremonies for our undergraduate and graduate students. Bachelor’s degrees were awarded to 187 women during the undergraduate ceremony, and Master’s and Education Specialist degrees were awarded to 96 men and women during the graduate ceremony.

The highly-decorated Class of 2019 included 18 students graduating cum laude, 17 graduating magna cum laude, and 34 graduating summa cum laude. Nearly 60% of the class had accepted a job offer or enrolled in a graduate school program at the time of commencement.

In typical Converse fashion, these students were highly involved in leadership, service, independent and collaborative research, professional and creative experiences, study travel, and athletics during their student years.They enthusiastically welcomed commencement speaker Carla Harris. Characterized as an accomplished author, gifted singer and a charismatic speaker, Ms. Harris serves as Vice Chairman for Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley.

Our Master’s level graduates include educators, writers, marriage and family therapists, musicians and more. Many have already left an indelible mark upon their communities and professions, and all will go forth from our College to achieve even greater things with their Converse degrees in-hand. Member of the Converse College Board of Trustees and President of the J.W. Woodward Funeral Home, Dr. Kay Woodward, gave the commencement address.

About the Class of 2019:

  • 48% held an internship while at Converse.
  • 43% participated in service opportunities on and off campus.
  • 40% participated in creative projects such as independent research, art showcases or theater or dance productions.
  • 35% are first-generation college students.
  • 26% participated in a study travel program traveling to other countries, including Argentina, Belgium, Germany, and Ireland
  • 18% are student-athletes.
  • 11% are Converse II students.
  • Just under half held a leadership role in a campus organization.
  • 24 received degrees with multiple majors.
  • 12 were hooded by Converse alumnae.
  • 10 received two undergraduate degrees while at Converse.
  • 10 graduated as Converse’s first cohort of the Converse International School.

Photo Highlights

Class of 2019 Undergraduate Commencement

View and download photos from Undergraduate Commencement

Class of 2019 Graduate Commencement

View and download photos from Graduate Commencement

Video Highlights

Commencement Address

Presentation of Class Gift

“How Excellent Is Thy Name”

Special Distinctions

Presentation of Degree Candidates

Special Awards & Recognitions:Photo of Melissa Johnson receiving an award

During the ceremonies, Converse recognized several outstanding faculty and students, as well as Spartanburg community member and Converse alumna, Melissa Daves Johnson ’69.

  • Kathryne Amelia Brown Award – Dr. Susanne Gunter, Associate Professor of Art Education and Department Chair of Art and Design
  • Cato Award for Faculty Excellence – Dr. Richard Keen, Professor of Psychology and Chair of Psychology Department
  • O’Herron Award for Faculty Excellence – Dr. Margaret Park, Assistant Professor of Education, Director of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program
  • Mary Mildred Sullivan Student Award (community service) – Cassidy Rindge ’19, Religion major (Interfaith Studies minor)
  • Mary Mildred Sullivan Community Award – Melissa Daves Johnson ’69

Graduate School Acceptance

Members of the Class of 2017 have been accepted to prestigious graduate programs in a wide variety of fields. Jayda Means received offers to attend graduate school at University of South Carolina Law, Howard University Law, and Penn State before selecting USC. Caitlin Lazurick will be attending VCOM to earn her medical degree.

Carla Harris performs with the Converse Alumnae Gospel Choir
Carla Harris performs with the Converse Alumnae Gospel Choir

Lily West will be attending the Queen’s University Belfast in Ireland to earn her masters in Public History. Maggie Gaston will be attending the University of Georgia’s Masters of Environmental Planning + Design. Zixuan Li will be attending Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to pursue a master’s of science in biotechnology. Wenle Yang will attend the University of Hong Kong for a Master’s in Public Health. Kimberly McKayla Mullinax will be joining the U.S. Coast Guard. Eleanor Lee will be staying at Converse to earn her masters in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Job Acceptances

The new graduates are ready to make their mark in their chosen professions, with jobs such as these: Mary Frances Watford will act and serve as costume designer for Tecumseh Outdoor Drama. Makayla Gay will be an English teacher in the Czech Republic. Brianna Putnam will work as a Design Technician at Milliken Corporation. Jennifer Spires will be a Pharmacy Product Analyst at Q/S1 Data Systems. Alexis Turner, Jacqueline Torres and McKayla Davis will be working in the Ford Credit Leadership Development Program at Ford Motor Company.


As the academic year comes to a close, Converse bids a fond farewell to five retiring faculty members and extends our deepest gratitude for their impact and service. Retirees include:

  • Ruth Beals, Owings Associate Professor of Interior Design and Coordinator of the Interior Design program
  • Woody Hughes, Associate Professor of Economics and Business
  • Sarah Johnson, Associate Professor of Violin
  • Dee Malone, Associate Professor of Education
  • Ann Pletcher, Associate Professor of Accounting and Dean of the School of Humanities, Sciences, and Business
Converse College offices will be closed Wednesday, November 27 through December 1. Offices will reopen December 2 at 8:30 am.