Campbell awards 354 degrees in Creed’s 1st commencement as president

BUIES CREEK, North Carolina – In his first commencement ceremony as Campbell University president, J. Bradley Creed bookended Saturday’s event with a welcome message and challenge to the graduates to live a life of service to make the world a better place.

“When you do this,” he said, “you truly make a difference. Now and forever more.”

Campbell University awarded 354 degrees Saturday — 312 in the morning’s ceremony at the Pope Convocation Center and 42 master of physician assistant practice degrees at Turner Auditorium later in the day. Nearly a third of all degrees awarded were post-graduate degrees.

One of those was earned by Luke Chilton of Apex, who returned to school in his mid-30s for a Master of Business Administration while holding down a full-time job as a corporate finance manager. The married father of two said the degree will put him in a position for advancement as his current job.

“It was a challenge, balancing school, work and family,” he said before the ceremony. “It’s very nice to be finished.”

State Rep. David Lewis, a 1994 graduate of Campbell who has represented North Carolina’s 53rd House District since 2002, delivered the commencement speech for the morning event. Lewis quoted the Roman Catholic priest James Keller, who once said, “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.” He told the future pharmacists, teachers, bankers, insurance agents, lawyers, doctors and business owners to be a light in the world; to use their talents, education and faith to make a difference in the world.

“Go forth and love your neighbor,” he said. “Go forth and be the best son, daughter you can be … the best spouse you can be. Go forth and forgive with mercy. Walk humbly with a heart filled with service. Go forth with the confidence in the many things you have learned at Campbell, and be a light in and for the world. May God bless each and every graduate.”

WITH FLAIR: Graduates continue to get more creative with their caps, displaying everything from song lyrics to handcuffs (from a criminal justice grad) on their heads. Christina Opel of Erwin didn’t come with a cute message, but her headwear was among the most colorful. The artist who plans to go back to school to earn a master’s in graphic design adorned her cap with bright orange, yellow and white flowers. “I wanted some flair,” she said. “This took me about three hours. I’m happy with the way it turned out.”

FIRST STEP: The associate degree Darnell McDonald earned Saturday was for his mother. It was also just the beginning. Darnell, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, earned his associate in arts degree and will return to school next year to work toward a bachelor’s in psychology and eventually a master’s degree in counseling. “The last four years have been rigorous, rigorous, rigorous,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot about perseverance. Not a lot of kids where I’m from graduate high school, much less go to college and earn degrees. I’m here to make something of myself, and this is just the start.”

MEDICAL COUPLE: Richard Baggaley met his wife Brittany at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new medical school building in 2013. Richard was then a first-year student in the charter class for Campbell’s new School of Osteopathic Medicine, and Brittany was entering her first year as a physician assistant student. The two would share the new building over the next two and a half years — getting married along the way on Dec. 20, 2014.

A week before their first anniversary, Richard was there for Brittany to assist in her Long Coat Ceremony, and he was there Saturday for Brittany as she earned her Master of Physician Assistant degree. But the late night studying isn’t done yet — Richard won’t finish med school until 2017. — Article and photo by Billy Liggett