Williams Baptist University awarded degrees to 80 graduates during its 2019 commencement exercises Saturday, May 4. The graduates represented 25 Arkansas counties, nine states and three nations.
A crowd of over 1,000 filled WBU’s Southerland-Mabee Center for the ceremony. The commencement address was delivered by Dr. J.D. “Sonny” Tucker, executive director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
Kristin Britt of Chandler, Tex., and Alexander Laffoon of Paragould, Ark., were recognized as being Graduates with Highest Honors. Both had perfect 4.0 grade point averages.
The class had the honor of being the first to graduate under the institution’s new status of university. Two recently launched WBU programs also had their first graduates, with five graduates awarded the Master of Arts in Teaching, while four received their Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.
Honor graduates were recognized as being cum laude (3.5-3.69 cumulative grade point average), magna cum laude (3.7-3.84 GPA) or summa cum laude (3.85-4.0 GPA).
Those receiving the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) are noted below, as well.
Williams is a private, Christian university in Walnut Ridge. WBU graduates from Arkansas, listed by county, included:
Baxter County – Mountain Home: Shelby Upshaw (MAT).
Clay County – Corning: Ridge Briney. Piggott: McKenzie Hopkins, Hayden Winberry.
Craighead County – Bono: Mark Mosier (magna cum laude), Kristen Smith (cum laude). Black Oak: Karoline Thomas. Brookland: Madalyn Belk (MAT), Justin Cole, Bailey Frazier.
Crittenden County – West Memphis: Cameron Smith.
Cross County – Wynne: Steven Wood (summa cum laude).
Faulkner County – Vilonia: Ashley Lyons.
Fulton County – Elizabeth: Marshall H. Tyree.
Greene County – Marmaduke: Zachery Jackson. Paragould: Sarah Johnson (MAT), Alexander Laffoon (summa cum laude), Kyrsten McLemore, Audra Nailling (magna cum laude).
Independence County – Batesville: Andrea Gayton, Grady Majors (magna cum laude), Michael Odell Moody (cum laude).
Jefferson County – White Hall: Maria Fernanda Ramirez-Alfaro.
Lafayette County – Taylor: Jessica Dobbins.
Lawrence County – Black Rock: Megan Carey. Imboden: Elanore Ames, Kalee Morgan (cum laude), Jessica Powell (summa cum laude), Katie Williams (MAT). Lynn: Hanna Hunter. Powhatan: Colton Yarbro. Walnut Ridge: Sierra Morris, Elisabeth Grace Stolz (MAT), Warner West (summa cum laude).
Lonoke County – Cabot: Erik Cooley, Alisa Staton (cum laude). Ward: Tyler Giorgini.
Marion County – Yellville: Elisabeth Grace Stolz (MAT).
Mississippi County – Wilson: Tracy Allen Jr.
Phillips County – Marion: Alexander Robbins.
Pulaski County – Maumelle: Willie Wright. Little Rock: Braden Zini. Sherwood: Rachel Franco. West Fork: Keion McVay.
Randolph County – Maynard: Tammy Hamilton, Breana Roberts. Pocahontas: Lezlee Bennett, Deanna Smith. Ravenden Springs: Cody Anderson (cum laude).
Saline County – Benton: Hannah Estes (summa cum laude).
Scott County – Mansfield: Alex Van Herpen.
Sharp County – Highland: Rodney Duncan (summa cum laude).
Sebastian County – Lavaca: William Darrell Spells.
St. Francis County – Palestine: Richard Estes III (cum laude).
Union County – Smackover: Cooper Briggs. Strong: John Fairris.
Washington County – Fayetteville: Jay Branch.
White County – Beebe: MaKenzie Free. Judsonia: Bethany Dorton.
WBU graduates from other states, listed by city, were:
Miami: Jose Rojas.
Quincy: Jeffrey Haley.
Brighton: Allen Thompson (magna cum laude).
Raytown: Dara Bernice Britton.
Portageville: Kayla Britt, Kristin Britt (summa cum laude).
St. Louis: Connor Linehan.
Horn Lake: Trenton Johns.
Olive Branch: Garrett Shaffer.
Newark: Abel Yekeh.
Brooklyn: Davante Carolina.
Portland: Justin Stevens.
Haslet: Catherine Totty.
San Antonio: Erica Arguello.
Coppell: Roger Moe.
Chandler: Kayla Britt, Kristin Britt (summa cum laude).
Blaine: Jonathan Stewart.
WBU graduates from other countries, listed by city:
Rio de Janeiro: Danilo Silva Cruz.
Sao Paulo: Victor Prieto.
Serra: Fernando Moreto (cum laude) .
Port-Harcourt: Idongesit Akpan.