Hayes Challenges Grads at Saturday’s Commencement

Graduation, News

Lee University conferred 177 degrees on Saturday, July 30, during its summer commencement ceremony. Attendees heard speaker Dr. Mike Hayes encourage the graduates in Lee’s traditional ceremony in the Conn Center.

Hayes spoke about the choice that everyone has when they learn of others experiencing pain – running toward it or away from it – and challenged them to run toward the pain as “transformative agents of God’s grace.” He encouraged the new graduates to take risks, start small, and never quit.

In concluding, Hayes repeated three encouragements, with which he has closed many talks to Lee students, “I love you, I’m proud of you, and I believe in you,” and then added, “Let’s run together.”

Hayes, who currently serves as Head of School at Worthington Christian School in Worthington, Ohio, spent the last 27 years serving the Lee University community in student life and student development, overseeing campus ministries, counseling, racial and ethnic relations, residential life and housing, student care, and more.

He received his Doctor of Education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, his Master of Education from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and his Bachelor of Arts from Lee University.

Of the 177 degrees conferred on Saturday, 113 were bachelor’s degrees and 64 were graduate degrees. The summer event is one of three graduation weekends at Lee each year. Lee also holds commencements in May and December.

Saturday’s ceremony was preceded by the Commissioning Service on Friday night, which featured five student speakers sharing their Lee experiences: Antwuan Dean, Allan DiSiena, Abigail Houston, Jeremiah McCane, and Emma Osko.

The commencement and commissioning ceremonies can be viewed at

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