HILLSBORO, Kan. – Tabor College held its 108th commencement at 10 a.m., May 19. More than 2,000 parents, family and friends gathered at Joel H. Wiens Stadium and via live stream on Tabor Webcast to celebrate with the graduates.
Of the 190 graduates from Tabor, 119 earned degrees at the Hillsboro campus while 71 earned degrees online through the Wichita campus. Of those, 33 earned master’s degrees in areas of business, ministry or nursing.
President Jules Glanzer welcomed the graduates and attendees honoring the hard work and commitment to their education.
“Graduates, you’ve worked hard,” Glanzer said. “Today is a time to celebrate your accomplishment and a time to worship the God who has been with you all the way.”
Following the welcome, Glanzer presented the Fran Jabara Leadership Awards to Molly Wiebe Faber and Philip Ediger both from Hillsboro, Kan.
At a reception held on Friday, Jordan Horstick of Richmond, Kan., and Sierra Sanchez from Chonburi, Thailand., were awarded the Larry and Elaine Nikkel Service Award.
“These students we recognize this morning have not only demonstrated their capacity for future leadership, but have demonstrated their leadership abilities at Tabor College,” Glanzer said.
Class representatives for both Hillsboro and Wichita both spoke about their times as students.
Wiebe Faber spoke for students from the Hillsboro campus. She earned a bachelor’s degree in theater and finished her coursework in December. She has since been accepted into the prestigious East 15 Acting School at the University of Essex in London.
“Thank you to the parents, the grandparents, the uncles and aunts, the friends, the mentors, and anyone else who has had a hand in helping us get here,” Wiebe Faber said. “Your support and love, your guidance and redirection have helped us become the people we are today.”
Her early graduation gave Wiebe Faber the unique opportunity to speak to her peers about what is next after college.
“Whatever is next for you is not what is next for the person beside you or the person beside them, and it certainly isn’t what is next for me,” Wiebe Faber said. “We each have our own individual paths to follow. What I can tell you is this: no matter what is next for you, everything will be okay.”
Tabor College Wichita graduate Shelly Westfall, Derby, Kan., earned an M.A. in ministry entrepreneurship and innovation. She is part of the second graduating class from that program.
“I want to encourage you to always remain open to possibilities, newness, and change,” Westfall said. “Explore every opportunity. I came to Tabor Wichita to do the Christian Ministry degree completion program in 2010, not because I had a plan, but because I felt an inarguable calling.”
Westfall earned a bachelor’s degree in Christian ministry and moved from a career in business to ministry. She returned to Tabor for the MEI program.
“I know that college is not for everyone and for a long time, college was not for me, even while it was for many of my friends and family,” Westfall said. “I’ve had the joy of studying under amazing professors who really get adult education as much as they get the traditional college student. Every single one of you probably has at least one life-changing professor who is present here today. So, to all of you who have impacted all of us, thank you.”
Ambassador Paul Folmsbee, a 1982 graduate of Tabor, addressed the graduates on “Being Resilient.” Folmsbee is the U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Mali and has served in that role since 2015 when he was confirmed after an appointment from President Obama.
“Whatever path you choose, I have learned over the years that what distinguishes those who succeed from those who fail, is their ability to deal with adversity,” Folmsbee said. “Those who develop resiliency will be the ones to achieve the most.”
He spoke about the difference an education from Tabor will make on their future.
“You do have something going for you that many don’t have,” Folsmbee said. “Tabor College has given you a very strong value based life formula. Use it. Know your values and make decisions based on them.”
He also spoke about how resiliency has been part of his life and career.
“Resiliency took me to Haiti and gave me the power to assist with United States efforts in cleaning up after a terrible hurricane and political collapse in 2004,” Folmsbee said. “It got me through to Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Kenya and so many other places where I had the privilege and opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives. You can do it too.”
Following Folmsbee’s address, Frank Johnson, vice president of academic affairs, presented the graduating class. Hoods and diplomas were awarded. Rod Hamm, director of alumni relations, gave each graduate a bible.
Heidi Klaassen, from Arkansas City, Kan., who earned a bachelor’s degree in biology gave the class response. She addressed the importance of goals and trusting God in the process.
“After the initial celebration, the challenge to all of us is this: No matter what our future career and vocational goals, let us follow Paul’s admonition in 2 Corinthians that above all, we are to make it our ultimate goal to please the Lord,” Klaassen said.
The ceremony closed by singing the Tabor College hymn, “Redeemed of God,” and with a benediction by Laurel Koerner, assistant professor of theater.