Stephens College President Dianne Lynch will confer 128 bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and post-baccalaureate certificates during two Commencement ceremonies this weekend.
The graduate and online ceremony starts at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 6, in the Kimball Ballroom of Lela Raney Wood Hall on the Stephens campus. The ceremony will be preceded by a hooding ceremony for graduate students at 4:30 p.m. in the Firestone Baars Chapel. Marie Nau Hunter, regional vice president for Missouri Citizens for the Arts, will be the keynote speaker. Hunter serves as a regional vice president for Missouri Citizens for the Arts and is on the board of the Community Foundation of Central Missouri. In 2014, Governor Jay Nixon appointed her to the Missouri Arts Council. Most recently, Hunter was appointed to the Arts Council’s Executive Council. Hunter was on staff with the city of Columbia Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) for 13 years, starting in 1996 as cultural program assistant before being promoted to cultural program specialist. In 2001, she was named manager of the OCA and served in that role until March 2011. During Hunter’s 10-year tenure managing the OCA, Columbia was named the state’s first ever “Creative Community” by the Missouri Arts Council and the Missouri Department of Economic Development and regularly ranked No. 1 in the Missouri Arts Council’s Community Arts Program statewide granting. Hunter was a member of the Columbia Business Times “40 Under 40” Class of 2003 and in 2010 was the state’s recipient of the “Leadership in the Arts Award” given by the Missouri Arts Council. In 2015, she was the recipient of Stephens College’s “Woman of Courage” award.
Heather Gastler will serve as the class speaker. She is graduating with a Master of Education in Counseling from Stephens. She previously received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from William Woods University. Gastler is an elementary school and high school counselor in Fulton, Mo. She previously taught fourth grade and fifth grade. Next school year, Gastler will work as a school counselor at Lee Elementary in the Columbia Public School District.
The undergraduate ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 7, at The Missouri Theatre in downtown Columbia. In lieu of a speaker, Lynch will present a video tribute to the graduating class featuring memories and thoughts from graduates and faculty.
The student speaker this year is Maile Wortham, winner of the 2016 Alumnae Association Board Scholarship. Wortham is graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Education with a minor in Psychology. At Stephens, she is president of the Stephens Senior Class. She serves as the membership chair of the Mortar Board honor society. Wortham represented “Respect,” one of the College’s Ten Ideals, this year.
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