Louisiana Christian University will confer 249 degrees – 171 undergraduate and 78 graduate – Saturday at its 167th Commencement Exercises.
Many of these students have already decided on what’s next on their journey.
Trinity Foster, of Deville, will be graduating with a degree in biology and chemistry, and has been accepted into LSU Dental School for the fall.
Foster is one of four graduates who have been chosen to speak at Commencement Saturday, along with Erich Loewer, Vaylon Dubois and Hosie Thomas.
She said she is excited to speak at her college commencement, as she also spoke at her Buckeye High School graduation in the Coliseum four years ago, which was also on Mothers’ Day Weekend.
A third-generation LCU legacy, Foster said leaving is bittersweet.
“My whole family has come through here at some point,” she said. “I’ve loved everything about it. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
From the moment she stepped foot on campus, as a senior in high school to compete for the Smith Scholarship, she knew she had found her college home.
“I was able to meet one-on-one with the science professors,” she said. “From Day 1, I knew I wanted to be in the healthcare field, and I just loved the environment, it was an easy transition from one family environment to another.”
President Dr. Rick Brewer echoed Foster’s sentiments about this year’s class.
“The Class of ‘22 persevered through two hurricanes, tornado, ice storm, and the litany of challenges of the pandemic,” Brewer said. “Indeed, they’ve earned an A+ for Achieving through Adversity.”
Foster said all her professors have mentored and taught her, but the three who have put in the grunt work getting her to the culmunation of her LCU career, are Dr. David Elliott, Dr. Sarah Payne and Dr. Wade Warren—her major chemistry and biology professors.
“They’ve sat for hours with me asking them questions and helping me,” Foster said. “It’s a family.”
Most importantly, she said, though, is she has been well-prepared for her future studies.
“Our class has been through so much—from the freshmen year hurricane that swept through campus knocking down 40 pine trees, but miraculously no serious damage to buildings and no one was injured, to the ongoing issues and uncertainties surrounding COVID,” Foster said. “There have been so many trials. But like LCU has stood the test of time, so have we.”
Like Foster, Erich Loewer, of Crowley, has spent much of his time at LCU in science labs of Cavanaugh Hall. Both Loewer and Foster have also been part of the university’s C. S. Lewis Honors Program.
Loewer said he originally applied and was accepted into several different universities for his undergraduate studies, and he had family members who had attended LCU. His cousin Dr. Bradley Loewer graduated in the ‘90s and another cousin attends currently.
“I came to LCU because it was affordable, and I thought the faith aspect would be good for me,” he said.
And his four years have been full of blessings.
“I wanted to be a doctor, but the Lord had another calling,” he said.
Upon taking organic chemistry with Elliott, Loewer said he got interested in polymers and felt called to pursue graduate research instead of medical school.
“Dr. Elliott is difficult, yet somehow nobody hates him,” he laughed.
Loewer will not be completing his studies once his diploma is in hand Saturday. He and his wife, Allison Mayes Loewer, whose hometown is Kinder, will be packing up and headed to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where both have been accepted into the nationally competitive polymer science and engineering Ph.D. program at the University of Southern Mississippi.
The Loewers met on the LCU campus as freshmen and married in July 2021. They are expecting their first child this November.
Another married student graduating Saturday is Vaylon Dubois, 42, of Pollock.
His wife, Amanda, will also be donning a cap and gown Saturday, except with the LCU faculty. Dr. Amanda Brimer Dubois has been a biology professor at the university for a decade.
Vaylon Dubois, will be graduating with a Bachelor of Nursing, and already has a position lined up as a nurse in the surgical ICU at Rapides Regional Hospital.
After spending 20 years as a heavy civil construction superintendent, much of that time away from home, he felt called to seize the opportunity to try something new and challenging.
“I had the opportunity to do something different that I can do more comfortably later in life and get to spend more time at home with my family,” he said. “Plus, I am surrounded by extremely intelligent people.”
Dubois joked that he married into the most highly educated family in Grant Parish. His wife, holds a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology. His sister-in-law Dr. Natalie Brimer Maxey, also holds a Ph.D., in chemical engineering, and is a professor at LCU. And their other sister, Dr. Samantha Brimer Zeringue, is a trauma surgeon in Alexandria.
He said he is excited about his next stage in his life.
“I get to care for people and get paid for it,” Vaylon said. “I get to be an advocate for my patients. I’m on their team.”
He is nervous about speaking before the crowd of thousands Saturday, he said, but when LCU President Dr. Rick Brewer called and asked him, Brewer didn’t take the hint that he really didn’t want to.
Or perhaps, he just ignored his apprehension, Vaylon said.
“I told him, I’m not the most eloquent with words and get nervous in large crowds,” Vaylon said. “He [Brewer] said ‘Speak from your heart. You’ve got a month to practice. You’ll do fine.’ I told my wife that he didn’t get my hint. She said, ‘That’s Dr. Brewer getting stuff done.’”
Vaylon said he is ready for Saturday—even if not completely over his nerves.
“I have a different story than most,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to say thank you.”
December 2021 graduate Hosie Thomas III, who will be participating in Saturday’s commencement exercises, also has nothing but gratitude for where he is today thanks to a strong family and LCU coaches, faculty and staff.
Thomas, of Shreveport, earned his Bachelor of Exercise Science degree, and has already begun his graduate studies in Lafayette.
“My plan is just to do what God has planned for me,” Thomas said.
Thomas played football and ran track for LCU and still found time to author two books while attending classes. Vulnerable of Front Street and Can I Tell You Something are both available on Amazon.com.
“It’s raw emotions,” Thomas said. “I’m imperfect. I’ve sinned and done wrong. I can’t change the past.”
But Thomas has learned so much during his time in college, and he is a young man wise beyond his years and has advise for his fellow graduates.
“Time management,” he offered as key to success. “Knowing this is what I have to do. This is where I need to be. You ask God for the truth. Be careful because there ain’t no turning back when you get the truth. It’s going to be raw and uncut.”
Thomas said he has grown mentally, physically and spiritually during his LCU years.
“I was meant to be here,” he said. “I realized it every day. If I wasn’t here, I wouldn’t have met somebody who has impacted me, and I wouldn’t be where I am now. God has shown me. I have a purpose.”
Thomas lost his mother, Tiwana, to a heart attack in November 2020. He has also suffered from depression in his youth, but the relationships with God and the people at LCU have helped him grow in so many ways.
“The experiences these students have shared are exemplary of the relationships our world-class faculty establish with our students,” said Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Cheryl Clark. “While our faculty have the qualifications and experience to be employed at any ivy-league institution of their choice, they are called to be part of LCU and to invest in the lives of our students. Certainly, the academic demands and rigor that our faculty expect in their programs successfully equip our students for their future endeavors and careers, but more importantly, the Christ-centered focus that faculty integrate in their classrooms and instill in our students have life-long implications of preparing our students for lives of learning, leading and serving.”
Being asked to speak at graduation, Thomas said, is a testament to following God’s call, even when he said he didn’t see a reason to live.
The coaches, the faculty and the staff, Thomas said, just pour so much into the students. He learned not just about the game of football, but about being a good man, a husband, and he didn’t realize all the life lessons he was learning until he was out in the world and using the information.
“Every professor I had has taught me something,” he said. “From a little boy from Shreveport in the hood where gun shots are normal, to speaking at my college graduation, that’s lit! Every day I see why God wanted me here. My time at LCU has been nothing short of amazing. It’s been a wonderful ride.”
Louisiana Christian University will hold its 167th Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 7, 2022 at 10 a.m. at the Rapides Parish Coliseum in Alexandria. Congresswoman Julia Letlow will offer the commencement address.
Media Advisory | May 5, 2022 | Pineville, Louisiana
Contact: Dr. Elizabeth B. Clarke, Director of University Communications | Elizabeth.email@example.com