To a rousing rendition of I’ll Go in the Strength of the Lord, the 28th graduating class of Booth College filed out of Winnipeg’s Knox United Church after a weekend filled with celebrations and words of challenge. A total of 71 students were recognized for their achievements as certificates and degrees were awarded during the graduation ceremony. Valedictorian Sharon Welty, who received a bachelor of social work, spoke fondly of her years as a student. She recounted how she and her classmates have grown through the challenges and triumphs of their studies to arrive at this crossroad, ready to make a difference in the world.
General Paul A. Rader (Rtd) delivered the graduation address and contrasted the Booth College graduating class with the broader emerging generation that is largely rootless and lacking deep commitments. “You are of another ilk,” proclaimed General Rader. He then proceeded to demonstrate that the grounding the graduates have received at Booth College, with its emphasis on vital Christian faith, rigorous learning and active service, has prepared them to move forward to become agents of God’s peace in our broken, hurting world.
After the granting of certificates and the conferral of degrees, two special awards were announced. The Chancellor’s Medal is given to a graduating Winnipeg campus student who has achieved a high academic standing and contributed both to the life of the college community and to the wider community. This year’s recipient was Kaitlin Adlam, who also received her bachelor of social work. Captain Anita Pearce, divisional children’s ministries secretary, Alberta and Northern Territories Division, was announced as the winner of the General’s Medal. This award is granted by General Shaw Clifton to an extended-learning degree graduate who has achieved a high academic standing and who has demonstrated potential for leadership and an understanding of the distinctive ministry and theology of The Salvation Army, including the doctrine of holiness.
Earlier on the Sunday, the college community gathered in the Clifford Hetherington Chapel at Booth College for the baccalaureate service. This time of worship provided an opportunity for the graduating class to hear words of exhortation and commissioning as they anticipated their future beyond graduation. Following the call to worship by Commissioner William W. Francis, territorial commander, and several congregational songs, the assembled crowd was then inspired by the stirring message of Commissioner Kay Rader, based on Ephesians 2:1-10. Following the united confession of faith and litany by the graduating class, Commissioner Marilyn D. Francis, territorial president of women’s ministries, offered a prayer of blessing.
Coinciding with the graduation events was the spring meeting of the Booth College Board of Trustees. The board, which governs the college, is chaired by Dr. John Rook of Calgary and includes representatives from territorial headquarters and others from across Canada. The board met with Commissioners Francis, General Rader and Commissioner Rader to hear about the educational needs of the international Army. General Rader spoke eloquently about the need to ensure that Booth College remains anchored securely in the mission of The Salvation Army.
This may have been the last Booth College graduation weekend as in the coming months, legislation to change the name of the institution will be considered by the provincial legislature in Manitoba. Next year, The Salvation Army hopes to welcome the first graduates of Booth University College. But by whatever name the college is known, its students will continue to receive an excellent university education that is grounded in Christian faith and in the ethos of The Salvation Army.
Top: Booth College 2010 graduating class. Front row: Dr. David Neale, vice-president and academic dean; Dr. Donald Burke, president; Commissioner Marilyn D. Francis; Commissioner William Francis, chancellor; General Paul Rader (Rtd); Comr Kay Rader; Dr. John Rook, chair of the board; middle: Kaitlin Adlam received the Chancellor’s Medal from Commissioner William Francis; bottom: Valedictorian Sharon Welty receives her academic hood from Dr. Donald Burke