UMobile First Lady Marilyn Foley urges graduates to influence boldly with compassioncomment (0)
May 29, 2014
Encouraging the University of Mobile (UMobile) Class of 2014 to live intentional lives of influence, UMobile First Lady Marilyn Foley said receiving a diploma was a starting point, not a finish line.
“The rest of your life begins now — not Monday, not when you start that job, not when you get accepted to the next program, not when you get that next certification, not when you walk down the aisle. No the present moment is life. The future motivates; but life is always now. Don’t miss it,” Foley said.
The Mobile Civic Center was filled with families and friends of graduates as the shofar, a ram’s horn, was blown to signal the start of the school’s 48th commencement ceremony May 10.
The university awarded the honorary doctor of divinity to UMobile alumnus Joseph F. Johnson, pastor of Mount Hebron Church Ministries, Mobile. The Shofar Award was presented to Dale Younce, retiring professor of Christian ministries, for “steadfastness in ministry.”
The university presented its top two awards to the outstanding male and female graduate selected by vote of the faculty. Both awards are presented to graduates who exemplify the mission of the university and selection is based on scholarship, Christian character, leadership and service. The Annie Boyd Parker Weaver Excellence Award was presented to Mallory Searcy, of Fairhope, who graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts in humanities (honors with thesis). The William K. Weaver Jr. Excellence Award was given to Seth Brasher, of Pell City, who graduated cum laude with a bachelor of science in worship leadership.
Additional academic awards were presented during the Honors Convocation on May 9 on campus.
Foley said that as a mentor, parent and wife of UMobile President Mark Foley, she has always felt that graduation was a bittersweet moment as students she has known personally or admired from afar prepare to leave campus and spread across the globe.
“I’ve always wanted to stand in the lobby like a mom shouting final reminders and instructions to her children running out the door,” she said. “As a parent, as an educator, as a member of your team, your fan club, your cheerleading squad, I want you to leave UM with these final thoughts running through your head” — know what you believe, use your life to influence for what you believe and influence boldly with compassion.
“I think many people have misconstrued influence as he who can be heard the loudest, make the biggest waves, land the biggest punch. Jesus was none of that,” she said. “Think about His life. It was marked by Truth delivered in love and serving others.”
Johnson gave a rousing address after receiving the honorary doctor of divinity. He described his childhood as one of deep poverty, one in which the world said he would never amount to anything and eventually be institutionalized and, like his father, die in prison.
“Now that was the plan the world had for me. But by the grace of God, there was another plan,” Johnson said. “And God said, ‘This is the plan that I have for you — one of good and not evil.’ It sounded nothing like the plan of the world.
“I would say to the world: How do you like me now?” said Johnson, whose ministry has grown from 200 members in 1996 to more than 5,000 with more than 50 new ministries that impact the community through outreach programs and community-empowering projects.
More than a professor
Johnson praised his former professor, Younce, who stood at his right on the stage and assisted President Foley in placing the academic hood signifying the honorary doctor of divinity over Johnson’s head.
“The man to the right became my dad. He taught me, ‘Son, walk with integrity. Love God, and if you’ll love God, you’ll love His people,’” Johnson said.
Younce has been serving in ministry since 1954 at the age of 16. At 17, he was preaching once a week on “Youth Speaks,” a radio program. He joined UMobile’s full-time faculty in 1994.