Wayland graduates celebrate

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Air Force Tech. Sgt. Clifton McFadden feeds his daughter Nadia a strawberry after his graduation Friday at Wayland Baptist University. McFadden, a vehicle mechanic at Cannon Air Force Base, earned his bachelor’s degree in management.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Recognized for their personal sacrifice and challenges overcome, more than three dozen men and women marched across the stage at Central Baptist Church Friday morning.

The 39 students received degrees during the commencement exercises for the Clovis campus of Wayland Baptist University.

This year, Wayland celebrates 10 years in Clovis and at Cannon Air Force Base, campus dean Gary Mitchell said.

Mitchell acknowledged the majority of graduates are non-traditional students balancing work, families and military service with their pursuit of higher education.

Graduates hailed from 14 states and Puerto Rico with 11 native to Clovis, he said.

“These graduates represent a mixture of active-duty military, retired military and civilians,” he told the gathering.

“Many of you have made major sacrifices to get to this point. Well, you’ve done it and we knew that you could.”

Col. Babette M. Lenfant, 27th Fighter Wing Mission Support Group commander, also spoke to the graduates.

“I encourage you and I challenge you to keep it up and never stop learning. … I salute you all for what you have accomplished,” she said.
Higher education increases earning potential and quality of life, and works toward the overall good of society, Associate Vice President of External Campuses Elane Seebo told the group.

“You’ve raised the bar and you’re setting the standard for your children,” she said.

Quoting Mahatma Ghandi, an Indian political and spiritual leader, she told the graduates, “We must be the change that we want to see in the world.”

After the ceremony, graduates, friends and families gathered in the church foyer for refreshments.

Clifton and Teresa McFadden sat feeding fruit pieces to their young daughter Nadia.

Getting his bachelor’s degree in management took two years at Wayland Baptist University “and a bunch more (years) before that,” 38-year-old Clifton McFadden said laughing.

While he said working toward his degree wasn’t “that bad,” Teresa McFadden smiled and said it wasn’t all easy.

An Air Force technical sergeant at Cannon Air Force Base, Clifton McFadden said he isn’t sure what is in his future, but he’s glad to have the degree under his belt.