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Liberty News

Military students, spouses participate in special graduation ceremonies on bases

June 23, 2016 : Liberty University News Service

Military duties often prevent service members and their families from participating in university Commencement exercises, but several Liberty University students received their degrees earlier this month during special graduation ceremonies held at two military installations in North Carolina.

Liberty University graduates celebrate at Camp Lejeune.
Eleven Liberty students were among the recent college graduates honored at Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C.

Eleven Liberty students were among the recent college graduates honored at Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C., on June 3. (See names below.)

Liberty graduate Heather Abenti, whose husband is a Navy veteran and a Department of Defense employee teaching at Camp Lejeune schools, earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration – Project Management. Though she could not make the trip to Liberty’s Commencement in May, she was thrilled to be invited to the MCB ceremony.

“Graduation was very important to me,” Abenti said. “This was a perfect opportunity to walk, to let my kids celebrate with me, and to have my family come into town for a visit that coincided with the ceremony. I was proud to show them that the hard work paid off. I was moved to see the pride in my kids, husband, parents, and little sister that I had completed this goal.”

She said formal events at a military base have a special atmosphere that adds to the experience.

Liberty University graduates celebrate at the Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, N. C.
Four Liberty graduates participated in a ceremony held at the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) in Cherry Point, N. C.

Four Liberty graduates participated in a ceremony held at the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) in Cherry Point, N. C., on June 2. (See names below.)

Cheryl Anderson-McKenna, a military education coordinator with Liberty’s Recruitment team, attended both of the ceremonies to support the graduates.

“I was told several times that the graduates really appreciated Liberty being there with them,” Anderson-McKenna said. “It was very special for me to share in this moment with the graduates and their families and friends. It is such a great accomplishment in a person’s life to earn a college degree, especially a military member, with all the demands of their job as well as a commitment to family, and I was so honored to be a part of this moment with them all.”

Approximately 30 percent of Liberty’s Class of 2016 — the largest to date, with 19,430 graduates — have military ties. They were honored in a special ceremony during Liberty’s Commencement Weekend.

“We are so proud of our military and veteran students, as well as our military spouses, who have worked so hard to earn a degree while serving our country and supporting their families,” said Emily Foutz, director of Liberty’s Office of Military Affairs. “It is such an encouragement to participate in these ceremonies to see our students’ dreams come to fruition.”

Liberty is a proud military supportive institution, with service members, veterans, and spouses studying in its online education programs from all around the world. Liberty’s Office of Military Affairs supports service members, veterans, and their spouses by offering a variety of special events and educational resources. Tuition discounts, book vouchers, and scholarships, as well as family resources and student care and counseling, are available. For more information on military benefits and scholarships, contact LUMilitary@liberty.edu.

Graduates honored at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune:

Heather Abenti – B.S. Business-Project Management

Emma Brooks – B.S. Criminal Justice-Forensics

Jennifer Burbage – Masters of Business Administration (MBA)

Melanie Doerr – B.S. Interdisciplinary Studies

David Durn – B.S. Accounting

Annette Elizalde – B.S. Business Management Information Systems-Intelligence

George Griffin – B.S. Interdisciplinary Studies

Brandi Johnson – M.A. Marriage and Family Therapy

Kelli Knapp – M.A. Marriage and Family Therapy

Ivan Vega Pacheco – B.S. Psychology-Military Resilience

Josh Palter – B.S. Interdisciplinary Studies

Graduates honored at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point:

Nathaniel Stout – B.S. Psychology-Crisis Counseling

Teresa Thompson-Brice – M.A. Human Services Counseling-Life Coaching

Patrice Bryant – M.A. Human Services Counseling-Marriage & Family

Kimberly Johnston – M.A. Executive Leadership

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