The Honorable Virginia Foxx with Dr. Gene Spears, interim vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty, and Dr. David W. Bushman, president of Lees-McRae.
With 190 graduates waiting anxiously to receive their degrees, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx encouraged the Lees-McRae College Class of 2005 to find inspiration in the song “High Hopes,” made famous in 1959 by Frank Sinatra.
Referring to a verse from the song about an ant that hopes to find the strength to move a rubber tree, Foxx advised the graduates to continue setting goals for themselves.
“Just like the ant … we should all be doing something we feel strongly about,” she said. “Find your passion. Set your goals. And then work toward them—little by little, day after day, giving it all you’ve got.
“When you finally reach your goal … you’ll know you’ve passed your test. And then you can start all over again, with different goals, bigger goals, tougher goals.”
In appreciation for her service to the college and the community, Foxx was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws degree, 44 years after beginning her post-secondary education at what was then Lees-McRae Junior College.
“You have truly honored me, not only with an honorary degree, but by accepting me as a member of your graduating class,” Foxx said. “And since I actually started at Lees-McRae College in 1961, I’ve had a long time to prepare my graduation speech.”
Before conferring degrees upon the graduates, College President Dr. David W. Bushman reminded them that they would remain a part of the Lees-McRae family.
“The College is well into its second century of service, enriching the lives of its students, who have in-turn gone on to successful careers in their chosen fields,” he said. “But even as they leave, we hope that they will always consider Lees-McRae as their academic and spiritual home; we know that we will always consider them as part of the Lees-McRae family.”
Another notable event was the presentation of the Fidelity Award, one of the most prestigious awards at Lees-McRae, to graduate Eric Savage. The late Dr. H.C. Evans, the ninth president of Lees-McRae, established the award, which recognizes academic excellence, campus citizenship, friendliness and service to the college. The recipient is selected by the graduates themselves, approved by the faculty and represents the highest ideals of the graduating class.
This was not the first honor Savage received during his time at Lees-McRae. He received the Neron Wilson Math Award three consecutive times. He was a Bonner Leader, and did a summer internship last year in Washington, D.C. with the National Coalition for the Homeless. He spearheaded the College’s Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, played in the Bobcat Pep Band, and served as President of Alpha Chi honor society. He was also honored with a Sullivan Society award and the Edgar Tufts Award for Humanitarian Service.
In addition to Foxx, other special guests included three members of the Board of Trustees: Dr. Hal Hopfenberg, chair; Jane Baucom Stephenson ’57, vice-chair; and Murray White.