Undergraduate Commencement held indoors for first time in two decades

Commencement 2017

In 2017, Messiah’s 108th Undergraduate Commencement made history May 13. The ceremony—held indoors for the first time in two decades due to rain—conferred degrees on 616 graduating seniors.

Commencement speaker and social justice lawyer Bryan Stevenson reminded students to seek justice and to “be proximate” to the marginalized as followers of Christ.

Honors presented during the ceremony included the following:

  • Joel Johnson ’17 received the Donald and Anna Zook Alumni Merit Award.
  • Chemistry Professor Alison Noble and Professor of Engineering Randy Fish received the Dr. Robert and Marilyn Smith Awards for Outstanding Teaching, awarded to Messiah faculty members who have demonstrated a commitment to their students and the content they teach.
  • Residence Director Bryce Watkins received the Outstanding Cocurricular Educator Award.

- Anna Seip

Senior class close-ups

To celebrate tradition—while also making room for the future—we’ve profiled several undergraduate students from the Class of 2017.

Within this group, you’ll find newly minted alumni heading off to law school, seminary and new careers. 

Jocelyn Chavous ’17

Garnet valley, Pennsylvania

Until Messiah College reached out to Jocelyn Chavous to ask her to join the basketball team, she’d never heard of the school that was less than two hours west of where she grew up.

“Listen to your gut,” she said. “After visiting other schools, I thought, ‘I want to be at Messiah.’”

Read more about Jocelyn

Elliot Rossomme ’17

Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania

Messiah College wasn’t the first choice for Elliot Rossomme ’17. Then Massachusetts Institute of Technology put him on the wait list. A teacher at his small Christian high school asked if he’d ever considered attending Messiah. Rossomme regrouped and headed to Grantham.

“We learn to trust God a lot more when things don’t go the way we want them to,” said Rossomme. “God has changed my perspective on what it means to succeed and do well.”

Read more about Elliot

Emmeline Zhu ’17

Chelmsford, Massachusetts

The daughter of missionaries in China, Emmeline Zhu ’17 says attending Messiah just “felt right.” The studio art major culminated her four years at Messiah with a senior art project titled “Becoming of Place,” a trio of wood block prints of three places she has lived: Beijing, China; Chelmsford, Massachusetts; and Orvieto, Italy, where she spent a semester abroad.

Read more about Emmeline

Ryan Gephart ’17

Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

As a Center for Public Humanities fellow, politics major Ryan Gephart ’17 conducted research on mass incarceration and the criminal justice system. He will continue that passion for social justice when he attends law school at Georgetown Law.

“Combatting racial discrimination,” said Gephart, “is a great opportunity to show God’s love and compassion.”

Read more about Ryan

Leslie Giboyeaux ’17

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

For Leslie Giboyeaux ’17, the Messiah College always has been a familiar place. A Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, native, she grew up going to summer camp on campus. Even her research centered on the city she knows so well.

Read more about Leslie

Yacoub Seyni ’17

Maradi, Niger

Only one of four Christians in his entire high school, Yacoub Seyni ’17 grew up in Niger, where 99 percent of the population is Muslim. In search of a college with a combination of excellent academics and a Christian environment, he says he had never traveled outside his home country before flying to the U.S. to attend Messiah. The chaplain team bought him a jacket.

“I didn’t know it would get this cold,” he said of the Pennsylvania winters.

Read more about Yacoub

Olivia Mingora ’17

York, Pennsylvania

For Olivia Mingora ’17, gardening serves as a ministry and a form of therapy. Although she came to Messiah planning to pursue biblical and religious studies, she switched in her sophomore year to a degree in psychology with a pre-counseling and therapy minor.

“You don’t need to major in ministry to pursue ministry,” she explained. “I felt called to counseling.”

Read more about Olivia