Degrees awarded at FMU commencement exercises


Graduate and Blackwell Award recipient Shannon Beaudry poses for a picture after graduation ceremonies with Professor of English Dr. Peter Whelan.

Campus Reports

Three-hundred-and-twenty-one degrees were awarded during commencement exercises at Francis Marion University Saturday, May 7.

These included 296 undergraduate degrees and 25 graduate degrees awarded by FMU.

The William H. Blackwell Award was presented by L. Franklin Elmore, a member of the FMU Board of Trustees, to Shannon Leigh Beaudry of Dillon; Heather Elizabeth Patterson of Mullins; and Brittany Elizabeth Sanders of Johnsonville. The Blackwell Award, named in memory of the founding chairman of the FMU Foundation, is presented to the undergraduate Francis Marion University student, or students, with the highest grade point average (for all academic work undertaken at FMU) of those graduating during the past academic year. 

A graduate of Dillon High School, Beaudry entered FMU in 2007. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in writing and language. She received the Lenna V. Morrow Memorial Scholarship for 2009 and 2010. Additionally, she received the Scholastic Achievement Award and the English Award in 2011. She is a member of the honor societies of Sigma Tau Delta and Phi Kappa Phi. She was selected to participate in the Arts and Humanities Summer Institute at the university of Delaware in 2010.

A graduate of Mullins High School Patterson entered FMU in 2006 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in early childhood education. She earned the distinction of being named on the President’s List every semester. She received the Norma Lynch Scholarship in fall 2010 and is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi and Kappa Delta Pi honor societies.

A graduate of Johnsonville High School, Sanders entered FMU in 2006. She was named on the President’s List every semester and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in elementary education. During her student teaching at Moore Intermediate School in Florence School District One, she made such a positive impression she continued at the school as a long-term substitute.

Elmore also recognized the recipient of the Distinguished Professor Award for the 2010-11 academic year – Professor of Physics Derek W. Jokisch, who has been a member of the FMU faculty since 1999.

Seven FMU students completed degree requirements with a cumulative grade point average of 3.9 or higher and received their degrees summa cum laude (with highest honors). They were Kayla L. Bellflowers of Hemingway; Ashley M. Calhoun of Hartsville; Andrew R. Donaldson of Florence; Brittany A. Erwin of Florence; Curtis M. Jones of Johnsonville; James B. Jones of Wallace; and Shannon Leigh Pratt of Dillon.

Receiving degrees magna cum laude (with high honor) were 13 students who completed degree requirements with a cumulative grade point average between 3.75 and 3.89. They were Samuel Z. Boan of Florence; Jordan Lindsay Bryant of Chesterfield; Courtney Alexandra Driggers of Lake City; Kayla  Lawanda Duncan of Lancaster; Katelan Ann Fercana of Florence; Ashley Anne Godfrey of Hartsville; Addie Caroline Moody of Lake View; Thomas Floyd Moye IV of Florence; Mindaugas Petreikis of Siauliai, Lithuania; Karen Maddy Richardson of Effingham; Monica Belle Sokol of Lake City; Megan Michelle Thompson of Murrells Inlet; and Jessica Maria Upchurch of Walterboro.

Twenty-two students completed degree requirements with a grade point average between 3.50 and 3.74 and received their degrees cum laude (with honor). They were Michael Bryant Brank of Cades; Rebecca Ann Brown of Sumter; Caitlyn Amanda Bullard of Bennettsville; Kayla Joyce Chambers of Cheraw; Sumner Elizabeth Garland of Darlington; Dana Renee Grant of Johns Island; Hannah Leigh Gulledge of Chesterfield; Brianna Joy Huffer of Hartsville; April Michelle Hyatt of Bennettsville; Stephanie Lindsey Johnson of Florence; Mary Krista Kirven of Florence; Cassandra Denise Moncrief of Bluffton; Deborah Hines Outlaw of Dillon; David Joel Propst of Pelzer; Ryan Sarvis Sealey of Effingham; Layla Roseanne Sherrer of Green Sea; Preston David Shuey of Charlotte, N.C.; Brittany Natasha Singletary of Coward; Mitchell Shane Skinner of Bishopville; James P. Smyth III of Florence; Victoria Bracey Watson of Dillon; and Mary Ellen Yarborough of Florence.

Honorary Doctor of Humanities degrees were conferred upon The Hon. Kaye Hearn, an associate justice of the S.C. Supreme Court, of Conway; FMU alumna (’79) and basketball legend Pearl Moore of Florence; and Florence attorney and former Mayor Haigh Porter. Hearn delivered the commencement address.

Hearn was elected to the S.C. Supreme Court in May of 2009, becoming its second female member in history.  She began her judicial career in 1986 when she was elected Family Court Judge for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, comprised of Horry and Georgetown counties.  While a family court judge, Hearn served as the first woman president of the Conference of Family Court Judges.  In 1995, she was elected to the South Carolina Court of Appeals, and was elected to be its first female Chief Judge in 1999.  During her tenure as Chief Judge, Justice Hearn served as President of the Council of Chief Judges, a nationwide network of chief judges of the intermediate courts of appeal.

She received her B.A. degree, cum laude, from Bethany College in 1972, and her juris doctor degree, cum laude, from the University of South Carolina’s School of Law in 1977.  She received an L.L.M. degree from the University of Virginia in May 1998, and an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the Charleston School of Law in 2010.

Hearn was the South Carolina Trial Lawyers Association’s 2004 Portrait Honoree and the 2011 recipient of the Jean Galloway Bissell Award by the South Carolina Women Lawyers’ Association.  She is a member of the University of South Carolina Law School’s Partnership Board and the Charleston School of Law’s Board of Advisors. Since 2006, she has served as an adjunct faculty member at the Charleston School of Law, teaching a course in Appellate Advocacy.

Hearn began her legal career by serving as a law clerk to the Honorable J.B. Ness, Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court.  From there, she became a trial attorney with the firm of Stevens, Stevens, Thomas, Hearn, and Hearn until her election to the family court bench.  She is married to Rep. George M. Hearn, and they have one daughter, Kathleen, a recent graduate of Wofford College.

Moore, a native of Florence and a graduate of Wilson High School, is the all-time career-scoring leader for women’s college basketball. Between 1975 and 1979, the four-time All-American scored 4,061 points.  For 11 years, she held the scoring record for both men and women.

She has also provided a remarkable example of service to the east Florence community and the greater Pee Dee region in a myriad of ways. None is dearer to Moore’s heart than her annual week-long Girls Basketball Camp. The camp which she started in 2007 is open to girls ages seven to 17. What began with 60 participants has grown to include more than 100. The camp is designed to build character by emphasizing the core values of teamwork, caring, honesty, respect, responsibility, fun and friendship. Volunteers from the community and FMU basketball players assist Moore in facilitating the camp.

Following her career at Francis Marion, Moore went on to play two seasons in the Women’s Pro Basketball League (1979-80 with the New York Stars and 1980-81 with the St. Louis Streak), earning All-Star status in 1981. She spent one season in Venezuela.

The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn., recently announced its class of 2011 inductees, she was among those included.  Moore was one of the first inductees into the FMU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992.  In 2000, she was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame, and in 2006 was among the inaugural class for the Florence Area Athletic Hall of Fame.

She resides in Florence, participates in FMU’s annual Old Timers’ Game, and is employed by the U.S. Postal Service.

Porter, a native of Florence, became involved in local government early in life. He was a member of Florence City Council and the Florence City-County Airport Commission before becoming Mayor of the City of Florence from 1991-1995.

Porter is an attorney who serves as special referee in Florence and Marion counties on appointment by the 12th Judicial Circuit and in Darlington and Dillon counties on appointment by the 14th Judicial Circuit. As such, he hears non-jury civil matters with appeal directly to the S.C. Supreme Court. In addition, he is a certified mediator and arbitrator.

He received the B.S. in biology from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. and the L.L.B. from U.S.C.’s School of Law.

His service to the Florence community includes his tenure as a member of the following boards: the Drs. Bruce & Lee Foundation; Florence General Hospital; Carolinas Hospital and later  its Advisory Board; Francis Marion University Foundation; the University of the South; Guaranty Bank and Trust Company; and later the Southern Bank and Trust Advisory Board.

Richard N. Chapman, provost at FMU, presided at the commencement ceremony. Luther F. Carter, president of FMU, gave the official welcome and conferred the degrees.

Pamela A. Rooks, director of the FMU Honors Program and professor of English, presented honor cords to Michael Bryant Brank of Cades; Lindsay Suzanne Buchanan of Florence; Courtney Alexandra Driggers of Lake City; Brittany Aaron Erwin of Florence; Crystal Yolanda Fulgencio of Effingham; Thomas Floyd Moye IV of Florence; and Megan Michelle Thompson of Murrells Inlet.

Honor cords are presented to graduates who compile a minimum grade point average of 3.25 for all academic work and for a minimum of 21 hours in Honors courses.

William Edward Gunn, a member of the FMU Board of Trustees, presented diplomas to graduate students, while L. Franklin Elmore, a member of the FMU Board of Trustees, presented diplomas to undergraduate students.