Northwest University Blog

2019 Commencement Recap

2019 Commencement Recap

Commencement is a special day for every university. It’s the culmination of years of hard work and countless hours of study for graduating students. It’s an opportunity for proud families and professors to take in just how much their students have grown. But at Northwest University, commencement is more than just a recognition of accomplishments. For us, this event is sacred. It is equal parts celebration and commissioning, both of which stem from our deep roots in Christianity. At commencement, we rejoice in all that God has done in the lives of our students, and we encourage them as they step into the next exciting chapter of their lives.  

This year was no exception – as the 592 graduates in their caps and gowns filed into Overlake Christian Church, two of them took the stage. Eric Dooley, a Doctoral Graduate, opened the ceremony in prayer. Then Caleb Smith, an undergraduate ministry student, read a passage from scripture. At this point, music professor Bill Owen stepped up to the podium to lead everyone present in the singing of “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”

Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided,
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.

The reverence of this hallowed chorus set the tone for the rest of the ceremony as the congregation sat and the choir continued to sing. 

Following their final hymn, President Joseph Castleberry made his way to the podium and joyfully welcomed everyone to the 83rd Commencement of Northwest University. “For those being glorified today with the degrees they have earned, we proudly note that you are catching up to your mentors,” he said. “Honor and glory, pride and humility, the present and the future, all of it comes together today in commencement. Welcome to the wonder of it all.”

Dr. Castleberry then proceeded to introduce the student speaker, Abigail Rogers, who graduated with a BA in English. As Abigail took the stage, she began by thanking the many people who impacted her during her time on campus. “To the faculty of NU, thank you for always striving to tend to the souls of your students. To the NU Community as a whole, thank you for the rich sense of comradery.” 

Abigail continued by urging students to seek the Kingdom of Heaven above all else. “Northwest has taught me to abide in wonder,” she explained enthusiastically. “To be caught up in a reality far vaster than the self.” With a final encouragement to dwell in the wonder of knowing Jesus, Abigail concluded her speech to thunderous applause from her classmates.

After Abigail returned to her seat, Dr. Castleberry and our Provost, Dr. Jim Heugel, passed out a variety of special honors to students and alumni. Included in these honors was the President’s award, which was given to the President of CRISTA ministries and Northwest Alumna, Jacinta Tegman. Carl Christensen, former Dean of the Buntain College of Nursing, received the Faculty Award for his service to NU, which is the highest award we can offer to a faculty member.

After the final honor was awarded, the 2019 Commencement speaker, Dr. Richard Foth, began his address. “Going forward, what might be a predictor of a fulfilling and fulfilled quality of life?” he asked. “I would submit to you that it’s not where you go or what you do that makes the difference as much as who you travel with.” Building on the themes Abigail had just introduced in her speech, Rev. Foth ended his address by emphasizing the importance of not only investing in good earthly relationships but also in our heavenly relationship with God.

The excitement in the crowd began to grow as Dr. Heugel returned to the stage for the moment we’d all been waiting for: “Graduates, you may now turn your tassels.” Cheering filled the auditorium as confetti launched over the crowd from the balconies. Each graduate was then honored one by one while they walked across the stage to accept their diplomas.

With new alumni back in their seats, diplomas in hand, Bill Owen returned to the stage to lead everyone in the Northwest University Alma Mater. The first two lines of the song say, “Let God’s light shine from the great Northwest; go tell the Savior’s love.” While Dave Kenney gave a beautiful benediction and the crowd began to disperse, those words seemed to hang in the air as a freshly equipped group of young professionals stepped into the world to shine the light of our Savior.


To view a photo gallery of commencement highlights, click here

To view diploma photos, click here.

For hooding photos, click here.