An unexpected rainstorm did not dampen the enthusiasm of this year’s graduates of Southern Virginia University.   The class of 2005 was graduated on April 29, under the protective roof of the Main Hall, which is affectionately referred to as “the Barn.”

Graduates and their families were privileged to hear from SVU President Rodney K. Smith, Vice-President of Academics Dr. Timothy Knudson, and Elder Stephen A. West of the Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Graduating speakers were Celeste Beuttenmuller Burnham, Deborah Prins, and Kierra Burns.

The program was supplemented with musical performances by graduates Taerra Pence & Kelsie Wall, and by SVU’s Chamber Choir.  Lieutenant Hayes C. Larsen (class of 2000) officially welcomed the class of 2005 into SVU’s Alumni Association.

In this year’s graduating class, 31% fulfilled service as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and 47% are married (four couples graduated together).  The top states represented by graduates were Virginia (19), Utah (8), and New York (6), and there were two international graduates.

In the theme of SVU’s mission to “prepare leader-servants,” graduates were given counsel by Elder West, advising them to prepare to be “leader-servants who will act on a world-wide stage.” He noted that the cultural, environmental, and political climates of the world today are vastly different from when he graduated roughly fifty years ago. Society now has a much greater need for individuals to provide moral guidance and to help those in need. It is the responsibility of SVU’s graduates to fill this role.

At the close of his remarks, President Smith left the graduates with a blessing “to be good stewards, to serve well, and to remember your commission.”