2022 Graduating Students Celebrated at Senior Banquet
In an effort to recognize, honor, and celebrate its graduates, the Office of Advancement hosts a Senior Banquet on the evening of the last day of classes. To celebrate the class, the Office of the Provost selects five seniors to deliver student perspective speeches each year. This year Patrick Krack, Skadi Kylander, Diamond Martin, Zyon Pye, and Allison Traub represented the graduating class.
Kay Thomas, Director of Alumni Relations, brought greetings to the soon-to-be graduates and shared her role in their Chowan journey now and in the future. Courtney Lamb, an elementary education major from Clemmons, NC, read scripture from Psalm 1, followed by Welinton Mariano, a sport management major from San Juan, Puerto Rico who delivered the invocation. Graduates and select faculty and staff enjoyed a dinner followed by Dr. Moore, Provost of the University, sharing his perspective on the class of 2022. He reflected that many of them attended an orientation session with him before they enrolled about how to survive in a college classroom and the fact that they indeed did survive. Part of his speech at orientation was about perception. He lightheartedly took the time to speak about several graduates present and share his perspective of them. He addressed all graduates and said that it is not just perception that matters; it is also loyalty. Loyalty, in the fact of giving your life meaning and living life with a purpose; and being responsible, knowing your core values, and remaining loyal to those values.
Senior class president Allison Traub, an exercise science major from Hamilton, VA, shared that it was hard to sum up Chowan in a few sentences, but she expressed that “expectations are meant to be broken. You can never expect the greatest things in life; they don’t come to you on a silver platter, and they are not the things you envision. They come to you in the form of professors, teammates, coaches, and lifelong friends… the Chowan community not only helped me flourish into the person I’ve always wanted to be but is still continuing to help my peers exceed and break their expectations. I hope wherever life may take any of you that you will not settle for the expectation you were given but to break the standards and achieve to your highest ability like I know this senior class can.”
Diamond Martin, a graphic communications major from Winston-Salem, NC shared that “we all have had different reasons ‘why’ we chose Chowan, different journeys on why we stayed at Chowan, and different testimonies on how we make it through here at Chowan. I just want you all to take a moment to look at how far you have come because everyone should be proud of themselves. My life as a student here at Chowan has taught me the true value of who I am because life is not about finding yourself; it’s about creating yourself. Creating a new version of the best you and not what you first came here as. I realized that even though the darkest times in my life, I never stop bringing light to others and making sure I keep a smile on my face to encourage those around me.”
Skadi Kylander, a biology major from Gates, North Carolina, shared her atypical journey and the obstacles she overcame that led her to Chowan as a transfer student. She shared that “many have been here longer than I have, others have come since I’ve been here, and many others have already left Chowan and moved on to the next great chapters in their lives, just as we are about to do now. Now it’s our turn to take flight and find a new perch where we can continue to contribute to and learn about the amazing world in which we live.” She concluded by pleading to the senior class to “please, take what you have learned here, not just the knowledge you have gained from your major, but what you have learned about yourself, and do what you can to make the world a better place. Someday that might just mean helping someone smile and keep going when they’re having a rough time, but that could mean starting a new business in your hometown, or teaching a classroom full of 6-year-olds how to add 2 and 2, or finding a way to protect a wetland that was in danger of being damaged or anything else you put your mind to. You are all incredible, and you are all capable of fantastic things.”
Patrick Krack, a sports management major with minors in business administration and coaching from Nottingham, MD reflected on the student-athletes’ perspective, especially during the challenge of the COVD-19 pandemic. Like the sentiment of most students, she shared that “I’m glad that God had it in his plan to make life on campus seem a lot more normal as the year went on. Big events are now allowed to be held on campus. We finally don’t have to wear masks anymore. We can attend sporting events both indoors and outdoors in large crowds. We were able to witness our football and soccer teams have historical seasons. We have been able to witness star performances on every athletic team.” He concluded that “without the people I have met and have grown close to, I’m not really sure where I would be at in my life. My time at Chowan hasn’t always been easy, but it has allowed me to become the best version of myself. Lastly, I’m just extremely honored to have shared this unique college experience with all of you the way we were supposed to—together.”
Zyon Pye, an integrative studies major from Jacksonville, NC served as President of the Student Government Association took the time to thank those who supported the graduates during their journey. He addressed the graduates sharing “our contribution to the world will not be measured by the money we make or the accolades we receive, but rather by how we share our unique gifts with the world, and the only place to find those gifts is to look within yourself.”
Graphic design professor Jason Fowler who was selected by students as Alpha Chi Teacher of the Year was invited to address the graduates. Professor Fowler shared “pieces of advice I have collected through work experience and from wise mentors and have helped shape my approach to my own career.” He shared the advice with the graduates to first, always be prepared, the second is to not be afraid to start at the beginning because there is always a first step in every journey and lastly, to always be kind.
Andy Wilson, Vice President for Advancement, shared with the graduates what it means to be an alumnus of Chowan University – participating in alumni events, being invited to serve on board, and most of all visiting and staying in contact with the Alumni Office.
Rev. Mari Wiles concluded the perspectives with the “All Together, Chowan” perspective. She reminded the graduates of ALL the things they benefited from during their time, from facilities to people, to unexpected experiences such as a quick transition to online learning. Rev. Wiles reminded them that TOGETHER they had highs and lows, from losing Chowan family members to gaining new programs and experiences. Lastly, she reminded each of them why they are CHOWAN. From the opportunities to serve and lead to the unique quirks such as the coveted bingo night winning to the intramural champion shirts.
Miyah Eley, a psychology major from Suffolk, VA delivered the benediction, which was followed by each graduate receiving a gift and individual congratulatory remarks from President Peterson and First Lady Rachel Peterson.
Please join us in continuing to celebrate the Chowan graduating class of 2022!