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Over 300 receive degrees during Catawba’s 167th commencement

By Andie Foley
andie.foley@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Saturday proved to be a day long awaited for students at Catawba College and their families, as over 300 were awarded diplomas during two commencement ceremonies.

For day students, the ceremony was held 10 a.m. in Keppel Auditorium with over 230 graduates. This 167th graduation ceremony drew a near full house with celebrating friends and family.

But one faculty member was absent: Dr. Barry Sang, professor of religion, who recently underwent heart surgery.

It was the first time he’d missed commencement in 33 years.

Brien Lewis, president of the college, decided to include him by giving him a call from the podium.

After being greeted with a mass “We love you, Dr. Sang,” the absent professor gave the graduates his best wishes.

“Please tell them that I pray for God’s blessings for their lives and for meaningful service and that I’ll miss them very much,” he said.

Next, Catawba professor and faculty senate chair, Erin Dougherty, encouraged students to keep moving forward on their paths of self-discovery.

“I’m also sure there are a number of you who are excited or nervous about what comes next,” she said. “Rest assured that wherever you have landed, it is temporary in the grand scheme of things. … There will be a path forward and even if it is not what you would have expected or anticipated it will be yours and where you are meant to be.”

Her message was extended to everyone, she said: those who had already landed the perfect job or those who may have been relegated to their parents’ couches while they searched for this opportunity.

“Each turn, each sidetrack, each setback allows you to learn something further about yourself,” said Dougherty. “Try not to be discouraged.”

Before the conferring of degrees, Catawba provost Dr. Constance Rogers-Lowery took time to honor this year’s lone-retiring faculty member, Dr. Cheryl Peevy.

Peevy, a professor of modern foreign language, joined the college faculty in 1986 as an assistant professor of Spanish.

Since then, she has served as chair of the college’s faculty senate on two separate occasions. She has also served as chair of the faculty tenure and promotion committee and the curriculum committee.

For the 1995-1996 academic year, Peevy was awarded the Swink Prize for Outstanding Classroom Teaching.

She was also awarded the Earl C. Poovey Professorship of Foreign Language from 2015 to 2017.

Rogers-Lowery said Peevy had recently become renowned for her volunteerism for the local animal shelter.

“She is known on campus as a fierce advocate for four-legged creatures,” said Rogers-Lowery, telling of her work with the Shelter Guardians, a local nonprofit that assists in fundraising efforts and adoption events at the shelter.

Peevy even started a Catawba College branch of the organization in 2015.

Lewis then recognized recipients of the Whitener Medals and O.B. Michael Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Kristen Rocko and Alex Turner received the Whitener Medals, and J. William “Bill” Hall, Jr. received the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Hall received the award once before in 2008.

After presenting the graduates with their degrees, Lewis gave them a charge.

“I charge you to go forth and pursue a life of purpose and of service, … to go forth and approach every opportunity and every challenge with enthusiasm, persistence (and) goodwill,” he said. “I charge you to go forth and pursue excellence. Make your alma mater proud.”

To view Catawba’s list of graduates for 2018, click here.

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