University of the Cumberlands (UC) honored several outstanding individuals during its 2018 undergraduate commencement ceremony.

The H.N. and Frances Berger Campus Leadership Awards were given to Corey Burns of Harlan, Kentucky and Sarah Smith of New Market, Tennessee. These awards are bestowed on one male and one female student from the senior class who demonstrate outstanding leadership and service to the University and to the larger community as a whole. Both Burns and Smith earned bachelor’s degrees in education at Cumberlands and have been active in UC’s education club as well as numerous ministry and outreach projects during their college careers.

The Algernon Sidney Sullivan and Mary Mildred Sullivan Awards are given to a male and female student in the senior class who have made significant contributions to university life while demonstrating outstanding spiritual values. This year’s recipients were Dustin Cawood of East Bernstadt, Kentucky and Brittany Litke of Hoschton, Georgia. Cawood earned degrees in psychology and human services and was a regular presence on campus known for his kindness and hard work at the campus grill and in the classroom. Litke earned her degree in biology with a minor in public health. She was captain of the swim team and an active member of the Student Government Association, UC residence hall staff, and Cumberlands’ freshman orientation programs.

This year’s T.J. Roberts Campus Leadership Award was presented to Blaine Coffey of New Tazewell, Tennessee. Coffey earned his degree in psychology with a minor in public health. He was a Resident Assistant on campus and actively served in Appalachian Ministries, Vacation Bible School programs, and UC’s chapter of Psi Chi, the honor society for the Department of Psychology. Coffey was also awarded the Psychology Department award this year for his contributions in and out of the classroom.

This year’s Gorman Jones Campus Leadership Award was presented to Samantha Bishop of London, Kentucky. She earned bachelor’s degrees in both Elementary Education and Social Studies, earning certifications in secondary social studies, as well as middle school math and social studies. Bishop regularly dedicated time to the UC community and local schools, helping run clothing, toy, canned food, and school supply drives, and participating as a representative to Cumberlands’ Education Preparation Advisory Committee (EPAC).

A posthumous degree was conferred to Zachary Finch during the commencement ceremony. His sister, Hannah Finch, was brought to the stage to accept the degree on his behalf. Finch was a senior at UC and a pitcher on the baseball team. In June of 2017, he was a victim of a fatal robbery in North Carolina.

“Everyone knew Zach as a happy, hardworking, and helpful young man,” said Chris Kraftick, Athletic Director at Cumberlands. “His constant joy left an imprint on all who met him. We celebrate and recognize this fine young man today.”

Linda Carter, retired Dean of Student Life and professor at Cumberlands, was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Administration. Dr. Carter graduated from Cumberlands in 1972 with a degree in education and taught in Georgia for a few years before returning to the University to work in Student Services. Carter became a familiar face on campus and an integral part of the institution for the next 40 years.

“The people I admire the most are the ones who remain intellectually curious and professionally vital in their pursuit of service to others,” said Dr. Larry Cockrum, President of the University. “They remain vivid in students’ memories forever. Linda Carter is one of those individuals.”

Students who had earned the honor of Hutton Scholar were also recognized during the ceremony. Hutton Scholars are Cumberlands students who dedicated 200+ hours to community service. The undergraduate class of 2018 performed 27,783 hours of community service during their college careers. The Corporation for National Community Service values volunteer work at $24.69 an hour, making the total gift from Cumberlands students to their communities worth approximately $685,962.

The administration also recognized students who had been accepted into the J.T. Vallandingham Honor Society, the highest academic honor granted by UC. For acceptance, students must have completed 96 hours of coursework and maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.75.

Located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction offering quality undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and online degree programs. Learn more at