Houghton Celebrates Newest Alumni

May 8, 2021

Houghton welcomed the newest graduates of the College at an on-campus ceremony on Saturday, May 8.

The Next Chapter of a Good, Good Story

Dr. Timothy Dalrymple, president and CEO of Christianity Today, delivered the keynote commencement address. Dalrymple encouraged the Class of 2021 to recognize and trust that God is weaving the tapestry of their life. Drawing on the story of Joseph in Genesis, he reminded graduates that:

“You cannot yet comprehend the tapestry of your life. But be not afraid. You are not the weaver. You are the storyteller. And the story that God gives you to tell will be a good, good story.”

Houghton University President Shirley Mullen presented the Willard J. Houghton Medal to Dr. Deborah Birx ’76. Birx served as Ambassador-at-Large and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator under the last two presidents, before being appointed by Vice President Mike Pence as the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator. Last year, she offered the Commencement address to the Class of 2020 at the virtual ceremony.

“Since graduating from Houghton University in 1976, [Birx] has sought to develop and steward her gifts consistent with the Vision of our Founder, Willard J. Houghton,” said Mullen. “She has held out for the Class of 2021 a picture of what it looks like for God to prepare us for future opportunities of challenge and service that we cannot imagine. Our work, like Dr. Birx’s, is to model faithfulness, courage, and commitment to excellence in each of the tasks along the way so that we will be ready for lives as large as God’s calling.”

The Class of 2021

This year’s graduating class of 234 students includes the first graduating class from Houghton University Buffalo—East Side and the Master of Business Administration program. 53 members of the Class of 2021 completed double majors and 92 graduated with honors. They came from all over the globe, including Canada, Cameroon, Congo, Ethiopia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Republic of Korea, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa, Thailand, and the United States. The top majors for the undergraduate students were Biology, Psychology, Business Administration, and Communication. Graduates and their families made the journey to Houghton, NY to celebrate their well-earned accomplishments.

Graduating seniors Evan Logee and Gabriella Mancini presented this year’s class gift: contributing to the construction of the KidsZone inclusive playground at the Kerr-Pegula Athletic Complex.

This year’s co-valedictorians were Cory James Messerschmidt and Elizabeth Jane Stone. Messerschmidt graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the Department of Business and Economics while Stone earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Intercultural Studies. Salutatorian Johanna Florez received a Bachelor of Arts in Adolescence Education.

President Mullen with Dr. Paul Mills

A Final Farewell

This Commencement marked the fifteenth and final celebration that Dr. Shirley A. Mullen would preside over as President of Houghton University. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Mullen encouraged the graduating class to never be afraid to ask for help. She continued:

“Enjoy this moment. Let your fears take second place today to joy and celebration. And then, tomorrow, when you first wake up to the world as a college graduate, commit yourself—in the face of any fears you might feel—to the twin calls of patience and boldness as you find the next place of challenge and grace that God has prepared for you, knowing that He who brought you to this place has every intention of completing His work until the Day of Jesus Christ.”

Farewell Celebration for President Mullen