Judson Commencement Fall 2019 | Judson University Christian College

Judson Graduates 128 Students During Fall Commencement 2019

(ELGIN, IL – December 7, 2019) Judson University celebrated the 128 students who graduated during the university's 82nd commencement exercises held at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 7, at Herrick Chapel on the Elgin campus.

During the 10 a.m. commencement ceremony, 77 students graduated from the Division of Professional Studies’ Masters (MBA, Master of Arts in Human Services Administration and Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership) and Adult Undergraduate (evening adult students) Bachelor of Arts programs.

At the 2 p.m. commencement program, 51 students graduated from the Traditional Undergraduate program, the Master of Architecture, Master of Education in Literacy (MLIT), and Master of Leadership in Ministry (MLM) programs.

GSW Commencement 2The day’s commencement address was presented by Dr. Gillian Stewart-Wells, Judson’s Provost and Chief Academic Officer since 2018. Since arriving at Judson in 2008, she has served the institution in several roles from professor in Judson’s undergraduate, masters, and doctoral programs to co-directing Judson’s first doctoral program to leading many committees and initiatives on campus.

During Stewart-Wells’ keynote address, she encouraged students to remember all the gifts that they have developed while at Judson and encouraged them to share those gifts with others for God’s glory as is stated in 1 Peter 4:10. She told the story of Bryan Stevenson, a Harvard-educated attorney who founded Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending the poor and wrongly condemned. In the book Just Mercy, Stevenson describes his experience as a 23-year-old who, while traveling to meet with a condemned prisoner, realizes that he may not have all the right gifts to make a difference.

“Now there is a man who did not have confidence yet in his gifts. How often do we feel that way?” asked Stewart-Wells. The book went on, she said, to describe how Stevenson later identified his gifts, which he used to free scores of people from wrongful punishment.

“The book emphasizes not his decency, but that of a cause. It reads like a call to action for all that remains to be done,” she said. She told students that their time at Judson had been spent cultivating their gifts just as Stevenson had done. She advised them to use their gifts well to shape their world, not for their own glory but for God’s glory.

“Your gifts have been developed and now it is up to you to present them [to the world], not for fame or for distinctions, but because gifts are meant to be shared,” Stewart-Wells concluded.

Several new graduates were recognized with awards for their academic achievements and dedication to serving others.

In the morning program, Business Administration (Division of Professional Studies) graduate Jennifer Roversi of Elgin, Ill., received the university’s highest recognition for scholarship, the President’s Scholar Award. This award honors the graduating senior who has earned a distinguished academic achievement in the context of a Christian liberal arts program and adhered consistently to Judson ideals. During her time at Judson, Roversi achieved the Dean’s List, Judson honors, and was inducted into the Alpha Sigma Lambda honor society for non-traditional studies. She served as the non-traditional student representative on the Student Life Committee of the Judson Board of Trustees. Her natural leadership skills, generosity and service were demonstrated each week as she brought her slow cooker or tray of food to feed her classmates.

In the afternoon program, Master of Education in Literacy (Division of Education) graduate Kylie Smith of Elgin, Ill., received the Road to Damascus Award, which recognizes a student with the most dramatic transformation in the way the student embodies literacy education. Smith was praised for moving away from being a person who was simply “following programs and maintaining the status quo” to “one who raised a confident and consistent voice as a passionate student advocate.”

 Andrew Burless Graduation 2Andrew Burless of Campton Hills, Ill., received the Adoniram Judson Leadership in Ministry Award. This award honors the graduating senior who has demonstrated excellence in coursework, outstanding character, leadership within the cohort, and the potential for significant leadership of God’s people locally and globally. In the MLM program, Burless demonstrated academic excellence, leadership within the cohort, and creative work in practical theology, which influenced both the RISE program and local church engagement with intellectually disabled youth. His capstone presentation was “Disability Law and a Theology of Disability: How Federal and Biblical Definitions of Inclusion Align” demonstrates his heart for those with special needs and intellectual disabilities.

An Intercultural Studies major, Rebekah Thompson of Grand Ledge, Mich., was awarded the Student Service Award – Traditional Undergraduate, which is given to the graduating senior who best exemplified sincerity in dedication to Christ, achievement in academic pursuit and promotion of Judson University ideals. Thompson has achieved the Dean’s List every semester, served on Theta Alpha Kappa and presented her research at the Student Religious Studies Conference at St. Mary’s College. She has been invested in enhancing the student experience through her involvement in University Ministries, Global Outreach and as a mentor to new students. Outside of Judson, Thompson interned with a ministry that serves refugees in the Middle East and is involved in the worship ministry at her home church.

Lindsey Mellema of Grand Rapids, Mich., received the university’s highest recognition for scholarship, the President’s Scholar Award. This award honors the graduating senior in the traditional program who has demonstrated distinguished academic achievement in the context of a Christian liberal arts program and adhered consistently to Judson ideals. A Judson Leadership Scholar, Mellema has achieved the highest academic success of Dean’s list each semester as a major in Worship Arts. Her Worship Arts capstone research paper was a compelling argument in support of women fulfilling pastoral leadership roles in the church. She has been active in the University choir each year and was chosen by her peers to serve as a choir officer for her junior and senior years. She has led chapel worship celebrations, participated in several music teams, and provided music and leadership to upper room gatherings.


Judson University, Shaping Lives that Shape the World