University of Montevallo honors 2023 graduates

Published 1:34 pm Tuesday, May 30, 2023

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From the University of Montevallo

MONTEVALLO, Ala. – The University of Montevallo celebrated 323 bachelor’s degree candidates and 102 master’s degree candidates this spring in the largest Commencement ceremony in several years on a beautiful morning May 6 on Flowerhill lawn.

“Today we celebrate perseverance and accomplishment,” said UM President John W. Stewart III.

The ceremony included speeches by outgoing Student Government Association President Cody Hodge and Senior Class President Desirae Billingsley. Hodge encouraged his fellow graduates to remember “if our capacity for learning is limitless, then it stands to reason that our capacity for loving is equally limitless.” Billingsley asked students to remember “our lives are before us as we go our separate ways, but our memories on the bricks and bonds we have formed will endure forever.”

“Those two may have been the best speeches I’ve heard students give,” Stewart said. “Your institution is very, very proud of you both.”

Keynote speakers Alan and Lindsey ‘06 Song shared their appreciation for the academic rigor provided by UM. The entrepreneurs and philanthropists recently provided a substantial gift to the University, which will provide scholarships to students with financial need, as well as rename its newly opened fine arts building the Alan and Lindsey Song Center for the Arts.

“My years at Montevallo provided me with the confidence and resilience to conquer anything,” said Lindsey Song, who received a bachelor of arts degree from UM and pursues her craft as an artist painting and doing pottery in her studio. “I hope the same for this Class of 2023. Congratulations, and Go Falcons!”

Alan, who arrived in the United States at a young age as a refugee from Vietnam, attended Duke University, and later became co-founder and chief technology officer for Precision Microbiology and Double Helix Specialists. He was former vice president of Assurance Scientific Laboratories and Technical Supervisor for Alabama Pain Physicians. During his tenure, Alan helped develop and implement testing for UTI, respiratory and other diseases in laboratories around the country. In the fall of 2019, Song was instrumental in the creation of one of the first COVID-19 PCR tests available in the world. For two years in the midst of the global pandemic, Alan and Lindsey traveled the United States, bringing their much-needed PCR test to labs all over the country. In 2022, Alan sold his business and officially retired.

“From an early age, my parents instilled the importance of hard work and education,” said Alan Song. Just as important, they taught us kindness, generosity and service to our fellow human. That personal accomplishment is truly achieved in the care of others and the giving to others. For each of us here today, none of our goals could have been realized without the help, love and support of other people, so thank you family members and loved ones.”

Alan encouraged UM graduates to use their power of choice wisely. “Choose to be a force for good in the world, choose to be a leader who inspires others to greatness and choose to be the change that you want to see in the world,” said Alan Song.

Members of the Falcon Flight program were also recognized at Commencement for earning a diploma marking their completion of the program intended to assist with developing life skills for special-needs students.

Graduates from Chilton County include:

Charles Joshua Bullis, BS, Clanton

Gabriel Allen Wilson, BA, Jemison

Vaden Lane Arnold, BS, Jemison

William Dakota Arnold, BS, Jemison

Matthew Shannon Nesbitt, BS, Maplesville

Chandler R. Olivier, BS, Thorsby

Caleb Smith, MBA, Jemison

Christopher Trent Jones, BBA, Thorsby

Jonathan Caleb Langston, BBA, Jemison

Madison Paige Terrell, BBA, Jemison

Katherine Popwell Maddox, Ed.S., Clanton

Samantha Taylor Wyatt, M.Ed., Clanton

Noah Lamar Terrell, BA, Jemison

Keyshawn Shacorean Talley, BS, Maplesville

About the University of Montevallo:
Established in 1896, the overriding mission of the University of Montevallo, unique in higher education in Alabama, is to provide to students from throughout the state an affordable, geographically accessible, “small college” public higher educational experience of high quality, with a strong emphasis on undergraduate liberal studies and with professional programs supported by a broad base of arts and sciences, designed for their intellectual and personal growth in the pursuit of meaningful employment and responsible, informed citizenship.
To enhance student success within a vibrant campus community, the University of Montevallo provides a premier educational experience characterized by distinguished degree programs, personalized instruction delivered by highly qualified faculty and affordable tuition. Enriched by an array of opportunities, the UM experience prepares students to enter graduate or professional school or to begin their careers with an understanding of how to succeed in a constantly changing and complex world.