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2021 commencement to be in person with livestream option

May 11th, 2021

Brooke Powers

The Baccalaureate service (10 a.m.) and commencement ceremony (4 p.m.) have been moved indoors to Mem Hall due to the forecast of rain and storms on Sunday, May 16.

Both events will still look different from tradition, but more like “normal” than did 2020’s, which were all-virtual.

Seventy-five seniors are scheduled to take part in the 128th commencement on Sunday, May 16, at 4 p.m. in Thresher Stadium, with Memorial Hall as a bad-weather contingent.

Each student will be limited to five guests (admitted via free tickets reserved in advance) for outdoors and two for indoors.

The Baccalaureate worship service, May 16 at 10 a.m., will also be outdoors rather than in Bethel College Mennonite Church, again with limited attendance.

Both events will be available to view via livestream.

By vote of the Class of 2021, the speaker is Brooke Powers, one of the youngest speakers in recent times.

She is a 2015 Bethel graduate who has served as assistant athletic trainer and clinical education coordinator at the college since 2018.

The title of her address is “Life: Challenges, Choices and Service.”

At Bethel, Powers received a B.A. with a double major in athletic training and natural sciences (biology emphasis).

After graduating from Bethel, she completed an M.S. in exercise science from Concordia University in St. Paul, Minn.

From 2015-18, Powers was a graduate assistant in athletic training and assistant athletic trainer at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo.

In addition to her positions at Bethel, she has been the head athletic trainer for the Newton Rebels baseball team since 2019.

In 2020, Powers received the J.O. and Esther Schrag Helping Hand Award, given to a current faculty or staff member who has had “a significant impact on [a student’s] life above the call of their work.”

The student who nominated Powers, Ryan LaCombe, wrote: “Much to [her annoyance], we athletic training students oftentimes refer to Brooke as ‘Mom.’ Whether it be appropriately dishing out tough love, or being a needed foundation of comfort – everyone who walks in her clinic leaves a little bit better than when they walked in.”

The Baccalaureate theme is “Hope is the thing with feathers” from the poem of that title by Emily Dickinson.

Music will be by members of the small a cappella ensembles Woven and Open Road.

Graduating seniors Kaylee VanderVeen, Aurora, Colo., and Alayna Wallace, McPherson, Kan., will offer reflections.

The commencement program will begin and end with music by the Thresher Brass Quintet, an alumni group.

President Jon C. Gering, Ph.D., will introduce the ceremony and later confer the degrees after the graduates are presented by Robert Milliman, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty.

Milliman will also give the Ralph P. Schrag Distinguished Teaching Award to a faculty member.

The Baccalaureate planning committee is graduating seniors Ahmed Fall, Staten Island, N.Y. (senior class representative, Addie Regier Kaufman, Newton, Adam Kroeker, Augusta, Krista Loomis, Walton, Tierra Powell, Wichita, and Kaylee VanderVeen, and Campus Pastor Michael Unruh.

The commencement planning committee is graduating senior Amondr’e Schumpert-Street, DeSoto, Texas, senior class representative; Rosa Barrera, assistant to the president; Grant Bellar, technical support; Marcia Miller, registrar; Erin Myrtle, Institutional Communications design consultant; Brad Schmidt, alumni relations; and Michael Unruh.

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel ranks at #14 in the Washington Monthly list of “Best Bachelor’s Colleges” and #26 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest, and earned its third-straight NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star Gold Award, based on student service and academic achievement, all for 2020-21; is’s highest ranked Kansas small college with the highest earning graduates; has the #10 RN-to-BSN program in Kansas according to; and is #57 among 829 U.S. colleges and universities named by as “Best for Financial Aid,” as well as #23 “Safest College Towns in the U.S.,” ranked by for 2020-21. For more information, see



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Bethel College prepares students for meaningful lives of work and service through faith formation, the liberal arts, and practical experience in career pathways.