Hearn Plaza was packed on May 18 for the 2015 graduation exercises, as all in attendance celebrated the Class of 2015. Graduation is the essence of what the Deacon Club is all about. The ceremony is a culmination of four years of hard work by our student-athletes, coaches and staff. The young men and women who arrived on campus as freshmen have matured and developed, and leave Wake Forest well prepared for their future careers.
A few of the student-athletes I have personally watched on their journey over the past four or five years on campus are below. They represent just a sampling of the incredible talent and character found in the Class of 2015.
Jordan, a fullback on the Wake Forest football team, plans to attend law school at the University of Virginia next year. After his senior year, Jordan enrolled in the year long Master of Arts in Business program at Wake Forest and served as a team captain while completing his studies. Jordan’s journey has progressed over the past five years from walk on to scholarship player and team captain. He is the model of a true student-athlete, graduating with a double major in religion and economics in 2014 and his MA in Business in 2015. Jordan was also honored as a finalist for the 2014 Freddie Solomon Community Spirit Award and the Lee Roy Selmon Community Spirit Award.
Dearica Hamby became the first Demon Deacon ever drafted into the WNBA when she was selected with the No. 6 pick by the San Antonio Stars just a few weeks before graduation. Anyone who has attended a Wake Forest women’s basketball game has recognized her dominance on the court. Dearica finished her career as the program’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder. She is the second Demon Deacon to reach 1,000 career points and rebounds along with head coach Jen Hoover. Dearica was honored as a Wade Trophy Finalist and was a WBCA honorable mention All-American and first team All-ACC selection.
Kevin worried his baseball days had come to an end when he developed a severe kidney condition during his senior year of high school, but Coach Tom Walter secured Kevin’s future when he donated one of his kidneys to Kevin in February 2011. Although this story received much publicity, featured on CBS Sports’ “Courage in Sports,” among other programs, it has been such a great experience watching Kevin develop, boldly face challenges and take the unique demands of life as a student-athlete in stride.
These are just three examples of our graduates who are destined for great things. The Wake Forest Office of Personal and Career Development recently shared an amazing statistic – over 98% of our graduating seniors will be employed or in graduate school over the course of the next six months.
As an institution, Wake Forest prides itself in its strong academic reputation. I would argue that we should be equally proud of the high caliber of our coaches and athletic staff and the impact they have on our student-athletes throughout their tenure as Demon Deacons. Our student-athletes have gained invaluable life lessons on teamwork, discipline and organization that will serve them well wherever life takes them. I cannot say enough about the positive influence our coaches have, leading our student-athletes through their most transformative years of their life.
Again, none of this would be possible without the steadfast support of Deacon Club members like you. It is truly overwhelming to see all of our student-athletes walk across the stage on graduation day and think of all of the Deacon Club members whose generosity made this time of celebration possible. Thank you for your support and best wishes to all of our graduating seniors.