Graceland University Horizons Alumni Magazine. Summer 2018 Issue
Graduation cap with custom decoration by the graduate: "I'm just getting started. Loading..."


121st Commencement

"Go in peace now, Gracelanders. Show us what is possible."

- Matthew Bolton, PhD, `01 

Commencement provides an opportunity to give recognition for outstanding accomplishments in the Graceland community. 

Female graduate exits stage with her diplomaGraceland’s December Commencement was held Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, at the Community of Christ Auditorium in Independence, Missouri. Dr. Stassi Cramm offered the commencement address. Cramm is on the Graceland Board of Trustees and is the presiding bishop and member of the First Presidency for Community of Christ. 

The Lamoni graduation ceremonies began Saturday, April 28 with the baccalaureate service. Board of Trustees member Laurie Heinz ’85 offered an inspiring message:

“Through giving of yourself to others, you lose your own burdens. Together, you (graduates) have a significant
voice that can change our world.”

Following baccalaureate, a reception with President Patricia Draves and Dr. Jeff Draves was held for the graduates in the beautiful Shaw Lobby. Later that evening, the 19th annual candlelighting ceremony was held on the brick plaza, where three students spoke of their Graceland memories.

The Spring Commencement convocation began Sunday, April 29 with a ceremonious processional and a welcome from President Draves and several graduates in their native language. It was a day of firsts — the first spring commencement for President Draves; the first commencement address given by Drs. Matthew Bolton ’01 and Emily Welty; first duo address for Graceland graduates to hear; first spring commencement for Michele Black ’81 as Alumni Board Chair; and for many graduates, they were the first in their families to receive a college degree.

In their commencement address, Welty and Bolton encouraged the candidates to live an authentic life — to be passionately curious about the world. Welty challenged, “Know the thing that is definitively and undeniably ‘you,’ and do not betray that thing.” Bolton shared his memories of his time at Graceland and said, “This place nurtured me, and I was challenged. Go in peace now Gracelanders; show us what is possible.”

President Draves congratulating female graduate
Graduate, Chris Oriz, with his parents at the candle lighting ceremony
President Draves congratulates female graduate
Graduate, Amy Gully, shows off the #GracelandGrad sign in her cap and gown
Graduate, Brandon Banks, flashes a happy smile in his cap and gown
Female graduate in her cap and gown
Male and female nursing student await the starting of the commencement ceremony
2017 Nobel Peace Prize winners and commencement speakers, Drs. Matthew Bolton `01 and Emily Welty address the graduating class.
Two female graduates smile for the camera as they await the starting of the commencement ceremony.


Awards were presented at both ceremonies to honor distinguished guests and faculty members.


Dr. Matthew Bolton `01

Dr. Matthew Bolton ’01 is director of the International Disarmament Institute and associate professor of political science at Pace University in New York City. He is an expert on global peace and security policy with a focus on disarmament and humanitarianism. He has been a participant observer in many multilateral disarmament and arms control policymaking processes on landmines, cluster munitions, guns, the arms trade, nuclear weapons and military robotics. Since 2014, he has worked on the U.N. advocacy of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

Dr. Emily Welty

Dr. Emily Welty is an academic ecumenist and artist living and working in New York City. She is the Director of Peace and Justice Studies at Pace University where she teaches classes focusing on nonviolence, humanitarianism and reconciliation, and transitional justice. Her research focuses on the religious dimensions of peace building with an emphasis on humanitarianism and nuclear disarmament, as well as nonviolent social movements. She is part of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), where she works on faith-based engagement in nuclear disarmament.

The Honorable Leonard L. Boswell

During his long and distinguished military career, The Honorable Leonard L. Boswell ’55 earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Bronze Stars, the Soldier’s Medal, an Air Medal, five silver oak leaf clusters and four bronze oak leaf clusters. He served in the Iowa State Senate, was elected as Senate President, and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996. As a member of Congress, education was of special concern to Boswell as he worked to provide students with the means needed to continue their education and strive for a better future. He served on the Graceland University Board of Trustees from 1990 - 2014, which included time as chairman of the Business and Administrative Services Committee. 


Jeri Sindt, MSN

Jeri Sindt, MSN, Associate Professor of Nursing, demonstrates the hard work and sacrifice that Graceland’s instructors make to continue in their calling as teachers. Her superior preparation and commitment to teaching has been a significant component of her students’ success. “She went above and beyond in my methods class to help me improve as a nursing student,” said one of her recent students. 

Michele Dickey-Kotz, PhD

Professor of Education Michele Dickey-Kotz, PhD, is a passionate teacher driven by the belief that it is her responsibility to promote, provoke or inspire those around her to become the very best version of themselves. Dickey-Kotz models a dedication to teaching for both her students and her colleagues. “She sees the capacity for a student to grow into a teacher,” commented one of her students. “She believed in who I could become, and that has made all the difference.” Her dedication to the art of teaching and to her students earned her the prestigious award.


Raquel Moreira, PhD

Raquel Moreira, PhD, Assistant Professor of Communication, was awarded the Organization for Research on Women and Communication's Feminist Scholar of the Year Award Feb. 17. The award is given annually to recognize the best article published in the organization's peer-reviewed journal, Women's Studies in Communication, during the past year. Moreira's article explores the importance of embodied politics for marginalized women as a point of entry to instigate structural changes in sexist, racist and classist contexts.


Dan Platt, PhD

Dan Platt, PhD, Assistant Professor of English, served on several university committees, including the innovation committee, budget committee and faculty compensation committee, and he took the lead on professional development for Graceland’s learning-management system. Platt was integral to Graceland’s award of the Campus Kitchens grant, a $5,000 grant to address issues of hunger and food waste on campus and in the Lamoni community. He shouldered much of the work for Graceland to host the Midwest Honors Conference, which included 17 universities on the Lamoni campus.