Converse’s 126th Commencement Honors Outstanding Class of 2018
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Converse’s 126th Commencement Honors Outstanding Class of 2018

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Commencement 2018

Over the last four years, the undergraduate Class of 2018 at Converse College has explored their interests, developed their individual passions, and honed their personal definitions of success. They leave the College as passionate, service-oriented citizens who stand ready to make a positive difference in their professions and communities.

Converse awarded Bachelor’s degrees to 175 women during the undergraduate commencement ceremony on the morning of Saturday, May 19, and awarded Master’s degrees to 90 women and men during the graduate ceremony that afternoon.

The highly-decorated undergraduate class included 26 students graduating cum laude, 23 graduating magna cum laude, and 21 graduating summa cum laude. More than 61% of the class had accepted a job offer or enrolled in a graduate school program at the time of commencement. In typical Converse fashion, the class was highly involved in leadership, service, independent and collaborative research, professional and creative experiences, study travel, and athletics.

Ann Dunwoody, the first woman in U.S. military history to achieve the rank of four-star general, gave the commencement address on Saturday morning. Sharing her life’s journey and insights gained along the way, she spoke to students about dreaming big and finding ways to make a difference, affirming that anything can be achieved through hard work.

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About the Class of 2018

  • More than half of students held a leadership role in a campus organization
  • 67% participated in service opportunities on and off campus
  • Nearly 20% participated in a faculty-student research or other creative independent experiences at Converse
  • 51% held an internship during their time at Converse
  • 28% participated in study travel, visiting Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Spain, Morocco, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Cuba and the Netherlands
  • 21% are student athletes
  • 13% are Converse II students, age 24 and older
  • Over 40% report being the first in their immediate family to earn a bachelor’s degree
  • 90% assert that Converse has prepared them well for their path after college

Graduate School Acceptances

Members of the Class of 2018 have been accepted to prestigious graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, including:

  • Brittni Jones, accepted into the graduate biomedical science program at Augusta University and the University of California Riverside PhD program in biomedical science
  • Kaitlin Knight, accepted into the Master of Science in community engaged medicine program at Furman University
  • Jane Macsay, accepted into the MUSC College of Nursing accelerated Bachelor of Science in nursing degree program
  • Jessica Morgan, accepted to a number of PhD programs in pharmaceutical science  including the University of Texas, University of Southern California, University of North Carolina and several others. Jessica will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which is home to the #1 ranked College of Pharmacy in the nation.
  • Alyssa Myers, accepted to Texas State University for the Master of Science in family and child/child life specialist program
  • Kendall Polk, accepted into Detroit Mercy Dental School and invited to join the Peace Corps to teach in Moldova
  • Mikayla Santoro, accepted to the Master of Science in forensic toxicology program at Thomas Jefferson University
  • Alex Schlesener, accepted into the Master of Fine Arts program with a partial scholarship for Savannah College of Art and Design’s animation program

Job Acceptances

Members of the Class of 2018 are ready to make their mark in their chosen professions. A sampling of their job acceptances includes:

  • Kelsey Bledsoe will be teaching at Woodruff Primary School
  • Christina Earley will be teaching at Laurens High School
  • Kylan Kirby will be teaching for the Spartanburg Hearing Impaired Program
  • Kathleen Langbehn will be a research assistant
  • Richelle Lineen will be an administrator in training at Rolling Green Village in Greenville, SC
  • Gretchen Marlow will be a software developer for CGI in Mobile, AL
  • Caitlyn Michaelson will be working for Web-Don, Inc. in Columbia, SC
  • Brook A. Nelson will be working with Glow Lyric Theatre in Greenville, SC, as costumes and wardrobe crew
  • Leslie Shealy will be the 3k through 4th grade music teacher at Spartanburg Day School
  • Ashley Thompson will be a research assistant at the National Institutes of Health: Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics Branch in Bethesda, MD
  • Sarah Waldby will be working for Preston Design Collaborative in Columbia, SC

Commencement Awards and Recognition

During the undergraduate and graduate ceremonies, Converse recognized several outstanding faculty and students, along with alumna Lydia Willard Kellett ’62. The following awards were presented:

  • The Kathryne Amelia Brown Award for excellence in teaching – Rafael Hernández, PhD, Reeves Brothers Professor of Spanish
  • The Cato Award for Faculty Excellence – Erin Templeton, PhD, Anne Morrison Chapman Distinguished Professor of International Study and Associate Professor of English
  • The O’Herron Award for Faculty Excellence – Marie LePage, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology
  • The Weisiger Cup (athletics) – Kaitlin Knight ’18, Bachelor of Arts in Spanish
  • Elford C. Morgan Award for the highest GPA in sciences and humanities – Sarah Ann Dame ’18, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
  • The Pi Kappa Lambda Award for the highest GPA in music – Madeleine McEntire ’18, Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance
  • The Mary Mildred Sullivan Student Award for service – Sarah Grace Salley ’18, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative and Professional Writing
  • The Mary Mildred Sullivan Community Award for service – Lydia Willard Kellett ’62
  • The Dr. Martha T. Lovett Promising School Leader Award – Gary (Rocky) Cooper ’18, Education Specialist

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:

  • B. Brant Bynum, PhD, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Director of Student Development and Success, and Associate Professor of Spanish. Dr. Bynum was selected by the President to serve as Grand Marshal, who leads the academic procession bearing the Converse Mace during formal convocations including Commencement.
  • Mary Brown, Registrar
  • Gretchen (Geri) Hurlbut, Coordinator of the Art Therapy Program and Associate Professor of Art Therapy
  • Thomas Maynard, Instructor of Economics and Business
  • Elizabeth York, Coordinator of Music Education and Therapy, Professor of Music Therapy