On May 21, 2022, Converse celebrated the graduating Class of 2022 in Twichell Auditorium. During their four years at Converse, the Class of 2022 faced many challenges, including completing coursework during a global pandemic. Despite what came up, they continued to pursue passions, attain academic excellence, complete research and internships, and develop as individuals who now stand ready to pursue careers and support their communities.
The week leading up to Commencement was filled with a myriad of traditions, old and new, from May Day and Hats Off to the new Trailblazer dinner and the inaugural Valkyries Choice Awards.
The Wednesday night before Commencement, doctoral candidates celebrated with their friends, families, and Converse faculty and staff at the hooding ceremony.
But on Saturday, May 21, 2022, it was officially graduation day. Commencement morning was filled with excitement, tears and anticipation for what was to come. As is tradition, the Wilson Tower Bell rang while seniors processed through sun-soaked Johnson Plaza to Twichell Auditorium.
The Converse Community was welcomed by student chaplain Camryn Wales ’22, Chair of the Board of Trustees Sandra Shearouse Morelli ’78, Interim Provost Dr. Lienne Medford, and Converse’s 12th President Boone J. Hopkins.
Watch Commencement Highlights:
President Hopkins brought his trademark positive energy to the stage and spoke of the many challenges our graduates had triumphed through. He reminded graduates to think of Commencement as both an ending and a beginning.
“Your last two years of college were completely disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” President Hopkins said. “You started at Converse when we were Converse College, an all-women’s institution, and are graduating from Converse University, now co-educational. You are leading the way for a new generation of students at Converse.”
President Hopkins applauded Converse’s first two male undergraduates who graduated with the Class of 2022. Steven Greer ’22 and Jimmy Sanders ’22 paved the way for shaping the male experience for peers and future generations. Greer, a first-generation student, was active in developing first-generation programming and participated in Model Programs. Sanders, Converse’s first male athlete undergraduate student, was a Presidential Ambassador and has been instrumental in leading the Black Student Union.
American Red Cross President and CEO Gail J. McGovern delivered the keynote address, inspiring the next generation of Converse graduates with words of hope and encouragement. Moments prior to her keynote, she was presented with the Converse University degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, by President Hopkins.
McGovern emphasized how proud she is of all the graduating students who persevered despite adversity. She spoke of the many challenges she has faced, both personally and professionally, from beating cancer twice to being at the helm of the Red Cross during a global pandemic.
In her address, McGovern applauded students for achieving this milestone and said she was honored and grateful to share this moment with the Class of 2022. She reminded the community that getting a degree under any circumstance is a huge undertaking, but these accomplishments are doubly impressive with the challenges faced over the past few years.
McGovern said that learning how to adapt and deal with obstacles is essential for leaders in all areas of their lives, both personally and professionally. Watch McGovern’s keynote here.
Following the keynote address, Taryn Spires ’22, President of the Class of 2022, applauded students for handling the many changes and challenges over the past four years with grace and spirit. Spires suggested that her classmates compare their journey to a cherry blossom tree, reminding graduates that, like a flowering tree, they won’t be the same person they are today.
She presented the gift to Converse from the Class of 2022: a cherry blossom tree and expressed that they hope all who see are reminded to appreciate the beauty of each moment while embracing all seasons of life.
This year, Converse bestowed notable distinctions to individuals in the community who have dedicated their time and efforts to Converse and the community.
Pi Kappa Lambda Award
The 2022 Pi Kappa Lambda award recipient is Christina Singletary ’22 (Bachelor of Music in Music Education-Choral). This award is presented to the graduating music student with the highest overall GPA. Singletary, an extraordinary scholar and musician, has earned an overall GPA of 3.95, balancing countless hours in practice rooms, rehearsals, and clinicals with thoughtful, engaged work in the classroom.
Elford C. Morgan Award
The Elford C. Morgan award is the highest academic honor given to a student in the arts and sciences, honoring late professor Dr. Morgan, who served Converse from 1932 until 1959. The 2022 recipient, Danielle Chloe Griffin ’22 (Nisbet Honors) is graduating with a BA in Biology and a BS in mathematics. She will be attending graduate school at Brown University.
The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award
The 2022 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Community Award was bestowed upon Emeritus Professor of Education Dr. Tom McDaniel, recognizing his unselfish service, contributions, and dedication to Converse and the greater Spartanburg Community.
Dr. McDaniel joined the faculty at Converse in 1971 as Chair of the Department of Education and Director of Graduate Studies. He has served Converse as Interim President, Acting Dean of the Petrie School of Music, Acting Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Provost.
The Lovett Promising School Leader Award
The winner of the 2022 Dr. Martha Lovett Promising School Leader Award is Joy Keith (MEd Educational Administration and Supervision). Keith’s advisor said, “As a leader, [Joy’s] ambition and high emotional intelligence will carry her far. In public education, we are given the often-overwhelming task of making a positive difference in the lives of countless students; this aspiring leader will make that difference.”
The Lovett Promising School Leader Award was established in 2014 with the financial support of the former Dean of the School of Education and Graduate Studies, Dr. Martha T. Lovett.
A total of 172 Bachelor’s degrees and 134 Master’s degrees were awarded to the 2022 graduates.
Members of the Class of 2022 have been accepted to prestigious graduate and doctoral programs at universities including Cornell University, Brown University, Johns Hopkins University, George Washington University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Western Carolina University, Florida State University, Medical University of South Carolina, Clemson University, Winthrop University, University of South Carolina Upstate, and Converse University.
About the Class of 2022 Undergraduate Students:
- 57 students are first-generation college students
- 49 students are student-athletes
- 13 students earned two undergraduate degrees
- 20 students earned a degree with multiple majors
- 13 students are Converse II students
- 3 students are Converse International Students
- 72% participated in service opportunities on and off-campus
- 46% were involved in leadership roles on campus
- 68% of you participated in some form of student organization or leadership position
- 48% held an internship while at Converse
- 42% have already accepted full-time employment or accepted into their choice of graduate programs.
About the Class of 2022 Graduate Students
134 graduate students were awarded advanced degrees, including our second cohort of 36 doctorate students.
- 9 graduated with an Education Specialist degree EdS
- 30 received a Masters of Arts in Teaching degree
- 16 received a Masters in Education
- 13 received a Masters in Management in Professional Leadership
- 6 received a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing
- 4 received a Masters in Music
- 20 received a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy.
The Converse Legacy Club
The Converse Legacy Club is an esteemed group of graduates with a family Converse legacy. Graduates whose parent, grandparent or great-grandparent, aunt or uncle, or sibling attended Converse are considered a Converse legacy. The Legacy Club plays a part in the University’s rich history and we honor these legacies by recognizing this special bond.
Congratulations to our 2022 Legacies:
- Rebecca Avakian ’22 was hooded by her aunt, Stephanie Eldridge Avakian class of 1999
- Kelsey Elliott ’22 was hooded by her mother, Allyson Elliot class of 1991
- Ny’Kera Hall ’22 was hooded by her aunt, Linsey Bowers class of 2016
- Shelvie Hart ’22 was hooded by her mother, Ashley Brantley class of 1992
- Emma Jameson ’22 was hooded by her mother, Heidi Baker-Jameson class of 1998
- Emily Lausier ’22 is the daughter of alumna, Faye Hamrick Ledford class of 1981 and the sister of alumna, Cynthia Ledford Singleton class of 2006 and 2009
- Delaney Leslie ’22 was hooded by her mother, Dawn Schwab Leslie class of 1992
- Anna Katherine Long ’22 was hooded by her mother, Donna Bailey Long class of 1986
- Abigail Posey ’22 was hooded by her sister, Caroline Posey class of 2020
- Sommerset Sewell ’22 was hooded by her mother, Christine Lewis Sewell class of 2003 and 2005.
Libby Tilson ’79 President-Elect of the Converse Alumni Board inducted the undergraduate and the graduate Classes of 2022 into the Converse University Alumni Association. Provost Medford saw students off and reminded them, “You will be looking ahead, but I hope you will also be looking behind a little and remembering the good things about Converse: your classmates, your instructors, your advisors and mentors, the incredibly lovely campus.”
Converse bids a fond farewell to our two retiring faculty members and extends our deepest gratitude for their dedication, impact and service.
Associate Professor of Politics Dr. Jeffrey J. Poelvoorde and Associate Professor of English and Director of MLA Dr. Anita Rose have shown extraordinary dedication to their students over the years.
After joining the History and Politics faculty in 1986, Dr. Poelvoorde taught a variety of special topics courses at Converse on topics ranging from death, love, Shakespeare, science fiction, Don Quixote and J.R.R. Tolkien to war and peace, American musicals, Nazism and Harry Potter. He coordinated internships for the Politics Major and served as Converse’s Pre-Law Advisor. He served as the Faculty Advisor for the College Republicans, STAND (devoted to ending the genocide in Darfur) and MASC (Manga, Anime and Science Fiction at Converse). In 2000, he received the Kathryne Amelia Brown Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Dr. Anita Rose joined Converse in 2001 and served as Associate Professor of English and a past president of the Victorians Institute. Dr. Rose received her Ph. D. in Nineteenth-Century British and American Literature from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has published essays and reviews in English Literature in Transition and the collection Fighting the Forces: What’s At Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
She has also been published in numerous reference works, including Dictionary of Literary Biography; Companion to the British Short Story; Essays of Literary Criticism; and Men and Masculinities: A social, cultural, and historical encyclopedia, and the Encyclopedia of Prostitution. Dr. Rose’s research interests, in addition to Victorian literature, included popular culture, food studies, and Appalachian literature and culture.
We wish our 2022 graduates all the best as they take on the world as transformative leaders who see clearly, decide wisely, and act justly.