NEWBOLD CELEBRATES OVER 20 GRADUANDS AT ANNUAL AWARDS CEREMONY
14th July 2017
The Newbold community celebrated the academic achievement of over 20 students on Sunday 9 July, in a ceremony attended by more than 250 guests.
The students, who represented 14 countries, including four graduands from the United Kingdom, have completed the requirements for programmes in Business (through Washington Adventist University), undergraduate Theology (including Biblical and Pastoral Studies), and postgraduate Theology (including Ministry and Mission through Theologische Hochschule Friedensau and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David).
Guests at the ceremony included guest speaker Dr Cheryl Kisunzu, Provost (Academic Administration) at Washington Adventist University. Dr Kisunzu addressed the graduating students, encouraging them to develop a competitive edge, without which she said their degrees would hold no meaning for them. Dr Kisunzu calls it the Daniel Secret Weapon, based on Daniel 5:11-12, The Writing on the Wall, in which King Belshazzar's queen recommends Daniel to the King, describing him as the one who can unravel the mysteries, and as having an excellent spirit. Dr Kisunzu challenged the graduands to be that 'one' in many who possesses an excellent spirit, and she discussed five competencies that make for an excellent spirit, and five characteristics that make for a less than excellent spirit.
According to Dr Kisunzu, components that make for a less than excellent spirit include Entitlement, which she described as being characterised by lateness, being reward-focused, and arrogant. "Be bold, be confident," she told the graduands, "but be humble." The next component she discussed was having an Explosive Personality, which Dr Kisunzu described as expecting people to see things your way and getting angry when they don't agree with you, putting others down while building yourself up, and disengaging from dialogue.
Making Excuses, she went on to say, such as finding reasons why something won't work or can't change, is a further attribute that makes for a less than excellent spirit. "The world doesn't need more excuses", she said. Dr Kisunzu also discussed how having an 'Empty Mindset' (being unprepared with no ideas), and an 'Exit Mindset', (one who is already ready to leave for the day, or to leave the organisation), are attributes likely to detract from developing an excellent spirit.
Essential competencies of an excellent spirit, according to Dr Kisunzu, include Enlightenment. She encouraged each graduand to take the time to verify what is true, and to go beyond the surface of the information presented. "Connect your mind, your heart, with the one who is the source of truth," she advised, "so that when you come into a situation like Daniel you will be the one who is enlightened."
Dr Kisunzu also sees Enthusiasm as an essential attribute. She encouraged the graduands to be positive, empowered, ready, and fired-up to recognise challenges and embrace problems. "Anyone can solve easy challenges", she said.
Expectancy, or being positive and expecting success, is also an essential component for building an excellent spirit. "As man thinketh, so is he", Dr Kisunzu quoted from Proverbs 27:3, as she discouraged them from thinking negatively. She also went on to discuss 'Edification', or being compelled to encourage others and build them up, quoting the apostle Paul who, in Philippians 2:14, advised that we should "do all things without arguing or complaining." "Come with solutions," said Dr Kisunzu, "and you will shine."
Finally, she discussed the attribute of 'Empowerment', encouraging graduands to pray every day for a "double portion of the Holy Spirit to infuse your mind with the wisdom promised in James 1:5."
Dr Kisunzu closed by reminding graduands of the words found in Deuteronomy 28, Blessings for Obedience. "You will be the ones who will move ever upward, never downward. You will be the head, never the tail. You will be blessed in your going out, and in your coming in. You will be blessed in the city, and in the field. You will be blessed to lend to many nations, never to borrow. You will be instruments in which or Lord's glory shines, for time and for eternity."
Dr John Baildam, Newbold's Principal, delivered the charge to the graduating students, challenging them to live the life of the kingdom of God, to love both God and their neighbours, to remain open to the needs of others, and to make Jesus known through witness and service.
Lorraine Fontaine, a Master of Arts in Theology graduate from the UK, gave the student response to Dr Baildam's charge. On behalf of the graduands Ms Fontaine acknowledged the responsibilities laid on them as alumni of the College, and recognised the skills which they have developed during their time at Newbold. "The College has enabled us to develop within the spiritual, academic and social spheres", she said. "In whatever walk of life we find ourselves, we hereby undertake to remain supportive of the ethos of the College and to remain true to the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Special music in the form of an original composition titled A Brand New Beginning was performed by Kärt Lazić (Head of the English Language Centre) and Dr Tihomir Lazić (Lecturer, Department of Theological Studies). In addition, the processional and recessional were performed by Newbold community members Austin Blackburn on the oboe, Estilla Keszeg on the cello, and Dr Sandra Rigby-Barrett (Director, Study Abroad Programmes) on the piano.
Several students also travelled to Lampeter, Wales, on Friday 7 July to participate in the graduation ceremony at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, the institution which awards some of Newbold's undergraduate and postgraduate Theology degrees. Dr Baildam, and the College's Academic Registrar, Serena Santona, also accompanied the students, along with several colleagues from Newbold's Department of Theological Studies. "This was a wonderful occasion," said Dr Baildam, "and an opportunity to support our graduating students, to connect with our colleagues from the University of Wales, and to show solidarity with our degree-awarding partner within the UK."