Louisiana Christian University will hold its 168th Commencement Exercises Saturday for 182 undergraduates and 77 master’s degree candidates.
For some, their educational pursuits are not finished. They will pursue graduate studies as they work toward their callings.
And for one, her dream career has called on her.
Desiree Squires, of Rosepine, will graduate Saturday with a double major in chemistry and criminal justice. She knew she wanted to go into federal law enforcement, so she applied for an opening with the Secret Service, that her father had seen online.
“They called me and got the ball rolling,” she said she never imagined that would happen. “If you’d told me in August that by May I’d be headed to Georgia.”
Squires has a conditional offer of employment with the United States Secret Service.
“The Secret Service does a lot more investigative stuff than people realize,” she said. “They work in counterfeit money and pursue America’s most wanted. Walking the president to the plane like we see in movies is just a very small part.”
Squires has already successfully completed her physical aptitude test with a perfect score on the agility course. She completed 33 push-ups in a minute, 41 sit-ups in a minute, and completed a 1.5-mile run in 13:02.
Performing this feat while finishing up her senior year of coursework was no small task—but it’s truly the way Squires lives her life.
“Everything in my life is a competition,” she said. “On my way to class, I even try to beat people.”
Less than a year ago the softball player had shoulder surgery and repair to her bicep, but it barely slowed Squires down. While sidelined from running and practice, she put on a 25-pound weighted vest and walked the bleachers.
“This comes from people all my life telling me I’m not good enough,” she said. “And they’re going to know who they are. Those things motivated me to say if all I have is heart, I’m going to work to show you that my heart is better than your talent. You might be better than me, but you’ll never outwork me.”
Squires is a perfectionist to the nth degree, and she has a grateful heart.
She said her Uncle Herb, a highly decorated Green Beret, taught her some of the most important lessons in her life. “You can do a lot of things in this world, but if people around you don’t feel loved, it doesn’t matter,” she said she takes to heart every day.
Squires said she is surrounded by people with good hearts at home and at LCU.
“God has continually put me where I’m supposed to be,” she said.
As Squires heads to the U.S. Secret Service Training Center in Georgia, her classmates Ting Jiang and Shelby Cumpton are headed back to the classroom to pursue graduate degrees.
Ting Jiang, of Eunice, will graduate Saturday with a degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting. He has been accepted into the Master of Science in Accounting program at the University of Louisiana – Lafayette in the fall, while he studies for the CPA exam and gains work experience in an accounting firm.
Jiang’s journey is unique. He spent the first 13 years of his life in China until his family moved to Louisiana for a new opportunity. He is a first-generation college student, and he is making it count.
He received the Louisiana Society of CPA’s scholarship two years in a row. This is a difficult statewide competition in accounting, and it’s almost unheard of to win it twice!
Jiang served as vice president of the Business Student Association for two years, served in Residence Life, and was a tutor for business and math in the Student Success Center.
While Jiang has grown in his knowledge of his career pursuits during his time at LCU, his biggest growth has been in his faith.
“I have grown a lot in the past three years here,” he said. “I learned about how to carry responsibility and become more mature. The biggest thing is I have put my faith in Christ.”
He said he is prepared for the next step in his journey.
Shelby Cumpton already has her immediate future secured, as well.
Cumpton, of Quitman, who graduates Saturday with a history degree and political science minor, will pursue a master’s degree in communication before she attends law school.
Cumpton has taken her four years at LCU to really get involved on campus and become a leader, which she said has surprised even herself.
“My life has changed in so many ways while at LCU,” she said. “Prior to my time here, I really just wanted to be invisible. I had no desire to be a leader or to stand out in any way, but fortunately, God had much better plans.”
Cumpton has served in several positions in the Student Government Association throughout her four years, finally as SGA president her senior year. She is also an all-star Debate Team member, finishing as the 12th-ranked national speaker in IPDA in 2022, and tied for 10th in speaker points at nationals in 2023.
She was in the C.S. Lewis Honors Program, Phi Alpha Theta, served as a Wildcat navigator, served as a tutor in the Student Success Center, and was chosen for Honors Court in 2021 and Homecoming Court in 2022.
Cumpton said she has been challenged academically and personally.
“I have grown in my researching, writing, and communication skills better than I think I would have at any other institution,” Cumpton said. “I’ve learned what it truly means to think critically, which is an incredibly important skill for any Christian. I’ve made so many close friends and found so much support from my professors. Whenever I get confused or discouraged, I can count on all of these people to cheer me on and help me figure out my next step.”
Graduation is bittersweet for these graduates and many more, but LCU will always be home.
“What a celebration Commencement 2023 will be!” said President Dr. Rick Brewer. “It’s my joy to watch these students grow intellectually and spiritually during their undergraduate journey at Louisiana Christian University. Indeed, our graduates are emblematic of the University’s Vision for Preparing Graduates and Transforming Lives.”
Dr. Frank B. Ashley III, an LCU distinguished alumnus, has served in numerous administrative positions at Texas A&M in addition to being a senior professor. He oversees graduate education and research activities, as well as strategic planning, faculty affairs, student affairs, program development, diversity, assessment, communications and external relations, student services, and extended education programs in the Bush School.
During commencement, Dr. Maggie Martin, of Alexandria, for whom the Maggie Martin Marketplace Leadership Summit is named, will be awarded an honorary doctorate for her many years of distinguished support and service to the university and the community.
If you are unable to attend the ceremony in Rapides Parish Coliseum, you may view the live stream of commencement beginning Saturday at 10 a.m.
Media Release | May 4, 2023 | Pineville, Louisiana
Contact: Dr. Elizabeth B. Clarke, Director of University Communications | Elizabeth.email@example.com