It’s Commencement weekend at Spalding University! Festivities kicked off Friday with the Baccalaureate service and individual college, school and program award ceremonies. There are tons of pictures from the day on Spalding’s Facebook page within the “Commencement Activities 2019” album. Please like, share and tag yourself or others in the pictures, and do the same after the university Commencement service (10 a.m. Saturday at Canaan Christian Church). Here’s a look at some of Spalding’s new grads who participated in Friday’s events.
Haitian earthquake victim now a Spalding nursing grad
Nine years ago, Witchina Liberal’s home in Haiti was destroyed by the earthquake that devastated that country.
This weekend, she is graduating with the degree of bachelor of science in nursing from Spalding and set to add a member to her young family.
Liberal attended Friday’s Baccalaureate service on Friday nearly nine months pregnant with her son, who is due on June 23 and will be named Jeremiah. She said she expects to look back on pictures from this weekend years from now with him.
“I can say I have a career now, and I will be able to provide for him, give him everything I didn’t have growing up. I’m happy,” said Liberal, who was accompanied Friday by her husband and friends from their church.
She added with a laugh: “He’s been a good boy. I didn’t have too much trouble with him while I did the nursing program.”
At the time of the earthquake, 15-year-old Liberal was at home, but she was cooking in a kitchen that was in a different part of the building.
“Fortunately, none of my family members died, but we lost everything,” she said. “None of us were in the house at the time. But it was horrifying. A lot of people died.”
Liberal moved from Haiti to Florida in 2010 to finish high school. She also attended a community college in that state before moving in 2016 to Louisville, where she had family. She picked Spalding to finish out her BSN the next year because she “liked how they were so welcoming,” Liberal said.
“It’s hard, but it’s doable,” she said of the nursing degree. “It can be done, but it’s challenging. I enjoyed it. The professors were really helpful, really helpful.”
Commencement weekend felt bittersweet for Liberal. In November, a few weeks after she learned she was pregnant, Liberal lost her mother, who was still living in Haiti. She has had her mom on her mind as she approaches graduation. Liberal said she barely slept Thursday night as she stayed up thinking about her.
“I’m proud of what I have done, but it has been rough,” she said.
Liberal plans to be a neonatal intensive care unit nurse. At some point, she’d like to provide nursing and medical care in her home country, which she has visited every year since moving to the United States.
“That’s part of my plan,” she said. “I’d like to go back and help.”
Former Spalding golfer now a mom and grad
Bachelor of science in natural science graduate and former Spalding golfer Megan Shirley Faust had a special young guest at Friday’s Baccalaureate Service – her 2-month-old daughter, Madalyn.
“It’s pretty awesome being able to experience it with her and her be in the moment with me,” Megan Faust said. Years from now, “I can show her what I did, and she’ll want to do the same.”
She said attending Spalding has been “a really great experience,” citing the experience of being an athlete and a student, as well as the bond she had with the golf team.
Faust was a senior on the 2017-18 Spalding team that won the first-ever St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship for women’s golf.
“That history is pretty awesome, being one of the first people to set those standards,” Faust said.
During her final academic year, Faust has had a new experience.
“Instead of going to practices and workouts and tournaments, I’m a mom and a student,” she said.
Faust currently works as a Certified Nursing Assistant in a nursing home. She said she may at some point pursue a job in human resources.
College of Ed master’s grad: ‘I feel like I’ve gained a family here’
Destiny Nichole Livers, a teacher a Foster Elementary School who is earning the degree of master of education in teacher leadership, said she would recommend Spalding to other aspiring or current teachers.
“I loved Spalding. The staff is very supportive,” she said.
Livers, who taught fifth grade the last three years and who will move to third grade as a team leader next year, said she’s learned about methods and best practices at Spalding that she is eager to take back to her school and share with her colleagues.
“If someone is looking for a supportive family, not just professors – I feel like I’ve gained a family here at Spalding – then you would like Spalding,” Livers said. “If you want the college where you really don’t know your professors, then go somewhere else. But here, like I told Dr. (Kristen) Harris, (the Spalding program director), ‘You’re stuck with me for life.'”
Livers was the winner of the Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award for her program.