Samford University’s annual prayer breakfast May 10, gathered graduates, faculty and family members to share in a tradition of fellowship ahead of spring commencement weekend. Each of the six featured speakers reflected on faith, friendship and scholarship.
Cameron Dobbins, a senior marketing and Spanish major from Cordova, Tennessee, emphasized how close friendships made in the past four years can mirror the mission of Samford, “For God, for learning, forever.”
“I believe that friendships we’ve made here at Samford are some that will last a lifetime and beyond,” he said. “I want all of you to look around closely and remember that not only are friendships for God and for learning, but they are also forever.”
Mike Morris, Samford’s head women’s basketball coach retiring this year, shared the importance of intentional friendships.
“Graduating class, you’re prepared. You’re going to walk out of here today or tomorrow with a Samford degree. You’re prepared,” Morris said. “If you’ve paid attention in the last four or five years to convocation, to your teachers, to the people who have poured into your life, you’re prepared spiritually, but hopefully you’re also prepared with a friend. I encourage you, be a good friend.”
Emily London, a senior English major and University Fellow from Macon, Georgia, spoke on scholarship and reminded the graduates that learning offers new perspectives to look at the world with an open heart.
“Honestly as I’ve been reflecting on the past four years and the classes that we’ve taken together, I’ve realized that if our academics and all the hard work we’ve done to achieve grades have only made us smarter people, but haven’t made us kinder people and more compassionate toward others, then I think we’ve missed the point of going to a school like Samford. So as you continue on in lifelong scholarship, being readers and writers and thinkers, I hope that your scholarship will not only make you smarter, but kinder,” London said.
Ahinee Amamoo, associate professor in the School of Public Health, offered a challenge not only to continue pursuing knowledge but share it with others.
“Scholarship is a treasure given to you by God. Will you hide it or will you share it?” she said. “God has a calling on each of your lives, and I challenge you to be a good steward of the treasures of which God has given you in your new knowledge. As each of you goes out and pursues God’s calling upon your life, remember as is stated in Proverbs 20:15, ‘Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.’ Be a rare jewel and share your scholarship with others around you so we all may grow and benefit from them.”
Gloria Roy, a senior music education major from Kolkata, India, shared her journey of faith as she approached graduation.
“Graduation is a time of great celebration with friends and family, but it brings a certain element of uncertainty in our lives and during those times, how big is the temptation for us to turn away from our assurances in Christ and give in to the temporary assurance that we find in the world?” she said.
“Friends, I hope you find encouragement today during times of uncertainty. During times of great uncertainty, hold fast to the truth that our God is a good Father who has a good and perfect will for our lives.”
Amy Hoagland, associate professor of education, shared a story of faith using a children’s book, "Scaredy Squirrel", a tale of a squirrel who never leaves his nut tree for fear of the unknown.
“God teaches us about ourselves when we venture out of our comfort zone because we have to call on gifts that we never knew that we had,” she said. “Therefore, hiding in the safety of our nut tree gives us a false sense of security and keeps us from experiencing the fullness of God’s blessings.”
Samford President Andrew Westmoreland shared the ongoing relationship the university will have with graduates as they become alumni.
“There is a word that comes to mind when I think about how we will view you in the future and the word is ‘vicarious,’” he said. “It is an adjective that means, ‘experienced through somebody else rather than firsthand by using sympathy or the power of imagination.’ So as you leave us, we’re going to use the power of our imagination even if we’re not in direct contact with you, to celebrate what God is doing in your life and what you are doing for a beautiful and broken world, every single day. It has been an absolute joy to have you here at Samford. We are grateful for every moment you have given us and we will truly look forward to all that lies ahead.”
Following the breakfast, graduates gathered with Westmoreland for a group photo on the steps on Harwell G. Davis Library and then retraced the walk along Centennial Walk that is part of freshman orientation.
The prayer breakfast is hosted by Westmoreland and coordinated by the Office of Spiritual Life. University Minister Bobby Gatlin provided the opening prayer and senior music ensemble Cole Arn, Meagan Kennedy and Elle Walker performed.