Class of 2017 honored at commencement exercises

Charlotte Campus Commencement

Richmond Campus Commencement

By Mike Frontiero

Forty-eight students across Union Presbyterian Seminary’s campuses in Virginia and North Carolina received degrees in the Master of Arts in Christian Education (M.A.C.E.), Master of Divinity (M.Div.), Master of Theology (Th.M.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) at Commencement Exercises for the 205th Session. Commencement addresses for the class of 2017 were delivered by alumni Angela S. Duncan in Richmond and the Rev. Dr. W. Rush Otey III in Charlotte.

Graduates will serve as pastors, Christian educators, and scholars in churches, hospitals, colleges, prisons, and in the mission field.

Graduate Profiles

de’Angelo Dia will be the Middle School Chaplain and Dean of Community Life at Trinity Episcopal School in Charlotte. “My most important takeaway from Union is the nurturing community here.”

Diane Bell Giannola will pursue a ministry in pastoral care. She battled breast cancer during her studies at Union. “My most important takeaway from Union is to never ever lose touch with your sense of humility. I’m very keenly aware that all is grace and gift, we’re not God. We should keep remembering that we’ve been given this life and it’s up to us to accept and understand the gifts God has given us, and to use that as the honor and glory of God in the world.”

Owen James Gray will serve in a residency at Second Presbyterian Church, in Indianapolis, Indiana. “My most important takeaway from Union is the practice of intentionality in every corner of ministry: theology, scripture, pastoral care, and more. From beginning to end, my experience helped me develop a mindset of thoughtfulness in both detail and big-picture parts of serving the Church.”

Amanda Kathryn Hill will become a chaplain resident at VCUHealth. “My theological basis and appreciation for God’s love in the world strengthened at Union. I was raised PCUSA and have always felt God’s love, but at Union I began to have a greater understanding of what God’s love looks like in this world as creator and how to articulate that divine love. That is my most important takeaway from Union.”

Melissa Miller will be a youth minister at Taylorsville Baptist Church in Doswell, VA, while continuing her role as Executive Director of the Hanover Chamber of Commerce. My most important takeaway from Union is friendship. The people I met here won’t be like most other people I’ll meet in my life and I can call on them when I need them.”

Charles Frank Pratt III will pursue a chaplaincy in Greenville, South Carolina, to help reduce suicide among war veterans. Pratt served in Iraq in 2005 and in the Navy for 21 years. He is currently a Supply Chain Leader for General Electric and finds himself ministering to vets at work and in his church. “My most important takeaway from Union is that a sense of call in ministry isn’t some discreet event that happens 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It happens all the time and is part of your life. The opportunity to enter ministry that Union provides for second and third-career students is such an awesome service to the church because of our life experiences that we can bring to bear on the real world issues facing our congregations.”

Mary Elizabeth (Betsy) Ray will pursue a ministry in church leadership while continuing her career as a public school teacher in Asheville, NC. My most important takeaway from Union is a power in appreciating differences as we work together in for the body of Christ.

Nathan Taylor will pursue a ministry in education in youth and family education. “It’s my passion because it starts with how little you know yourself. For some people school is a hoop to jump through. It doesn’t have to be an appetizer. It can be an entree. My most important takeaway from Union is gratitude. With the academic rigor and structure I flourished. I’m a different and better person now than when I entered.”

The following fellowships for graduate study were awarded in Richmond:

  • The Patrick H. and Mary P. Carmichael Fellowship — Alexa Allmann
  • The Martha O. and Fred R. Stair Fellowship — Andrew Whitehead
  • The Sallie Shepherd Perkins Fellowship — Emily Krudys

The following additional honors and awards were awarded in Richmond:

  • The James and Elizabeth Appleby Book Awards — Matthew Lee Boschen, Emily Blair Hook, Kevin Lacson, Colin W. Pettigrew, Lauren Elise Voyles, Lee Anne Washington
  • The First Presbyterian Church, Hammond, Louisiana, Award for Preaching and Worship — Rosy Robson
  • The E. T. George Award for Excellence in Homiletics, Worship, and Public Speaking — Courtney Elizabeth Reinke
  • The Glenn Gibson Memorial Award — Marcy Wright
  • The Jeanne Gibbs Memorial Award — Rosy Robson
  • The Malcolm and Mildred McIver Scholarship — Sara Pantazes
  • The Edward Bland and Tommie Pinkney Paisley Scholarship — Anne Franklin
  • The Wade and Lou Boggs Scholarship — Pam Fusting
  • The Patrick D. Miller Award for Excellence in the Study of Scripture— Chad Thomas Beck
  • The Jacquelin Plummer Taylor Award — Heather Lea Jones Butler
  • Presidential Service and Leadership Award — Owen James Gray
  • The Anne E. Treichler Prize for Church History — Matthew White
  • Warner L. Hall Scholar — Erin Burt
  • The David and Suzanne Jenkins Scholarship Award — Chad Thomas Beck
  • Dr. James Luther Mays Scholar — Russell Kerr
  • Carlson, Preyer, Prickett, Richardson Family Scholars — Courtney Elizabeth Reinke, Jayme Babczak
  • The W. Taliaferro Thompson Scholar — Colleen Earp, Rosy Robson
  • The Percy and Virginia Keffer Scholarship Fund for Ministerial Students — Elizabeth Eason, Trent Holden


The following honors and awards were awarded in Charlotte:

  • The James and Elizabeth Appleby Book Awards — Diane Giannola, Brett Johnson, Rhonda McClain
  • The Billy O. Wireman Fund for Leadership — Charles Frank Pratt III
  • Helen Deans Preaching Award — Mychael Dia-Bethune
  • The Elo Leon Henderson Scholarship — Letarshia Robinson
  • The Everett Scholarship — Jen Kirby Evans, Jackie Putnam
  • The Eleanor Belk Scholarship Fund for Students on the Charlotte Campus — Sonjia Lee
  • The Everett-Williams Scholarship — Mychael Dia-Bethune
  • The Beryl B. and Charles E. S. Kraemer Scholarship — Eric Robinson, Letarshia Robinson



Richmond Commencement

Richmond Commencement 2017

Charlotte Commencement
Charlotte commencement 2017