Over 100 Westminster College students graduated on Saturday at the college's 2023 commencement ceremony.
In his welcome address, Donald Lofe, Jr., president and chief transformation officer, congratulated the students on their accomplishments.
"As others have mentioned, this is truly a remarkable day for you, the graduates, because we are here finally to recognize your collective hard work," he said.
He said he felt a form of kinship to the class of 2023, as he became the college's interim president during their freshman year.
Lofe said the graduating students have been "in the real world" while at Westminster. He said they had to navigate challenges throughout their college careers, including leaving home and the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I think we can easily say you've been in the real world," he said.
Lofe said he hopes the students are able to pursue their "goals and and ambitions away from the hill and beyond the columns."
In an address from James Morton, Jr., chair of the board, he announced the extension of Lofe's contract through 2027.
"This decision to extend president Lofe's contract recognizes that in the three years when Don first served as the interim president for a year, then became the president and chief transformation officer in 2021, he has accomplished a great deal. Obviously, the board of trustees are very pleased with president Lofe's performance," Morton said.
Lofe said he is "truly humbled" by the announcement, and is excited to continue his journey with Westminster.
The commencement speaker for the ceremony was Renee Tyler, director of administration for the City of Fulton.
"Alright class of 2023, I see you and y'all look good," Tyler said at the beginning of her commencement address.
She said today is a bittersweet day for the graduating students, as it marks a milestone in their lives.
"Today represents the achievement of what I hope will be one of the many, many memorable experiences of your life," Tyler said. "Especially because obtaining your degree, finishing college, is an indicator of commitment, tenacity and determination to finish a goal."
Tyler said Westminster has a legacy of greatness, including being the location where Winston Churchill delivered his landmark "The Sinews of Peace" address in 1946.
She said each student is leaving Westminster prepared for greatness in the future. She also said they will face challenges in their post-graduation journeys.
"I'm here to assure you today that it is okay, and it will be okay. Because life is filled with obstacles. These obstacles that will challenge your essence, your morals, your attitude and your outlook," Tyler said.
She shared with the graduates four areas of challenges they will face: relationships, opinions, fear and failure.
"So folks, whatever your next step is, don't focus on the negative relationships, the negative opinions, the self-imposed fear or those self-erected barriers that predict failure," Tyler said.