(ELGIN, IL – May 5, 2018) Judson University celebrated 237 graduates during the 79th commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 5. Award-winning Hollywood actor and contortionist Doug Jones delivered the keynote address to graduates in ceremonies at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in Lindner Fitness Center (1151 N. State St., Elgin). Jones also received an honorary doctorate degree.
Known for such roles as Abe Sapien (in “Hellboy” and “Hellboy II”), the Silver Surfer (in “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer”) and as the leading Amphibian Man (in the Academy Award-winning 2017 movie, “The Shape of Water”), Jones is also a devout Christian.
For more than 20 years, in fact, he has been an active member of Media Fellowship International (MFI), a Christian ministry that works with people in the media and arts community in a confidential, non-judgmental manner. He also sits on the MFI board of directors.
Jones has enjoyed success on the big and small screen, mostly while wearing heavy makeup and monster costumes. He has portrayed such characters as the goofy zombie Billy Butcherson in “Hocus Pocus”; the blue fish-man sidekick, Abe Sapien in “Hellboy”; his dual roles as Pan and the Pale Man in the multi-Oscar winning “Pan’s Labryinth”; the Silver Surfer in “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer”’ and the Amphibian Man in Guillermo del Toro's Academy Award 2017 Best Picture, “The Shape of Water.”
Yet, during his presentation, entitled “Dream, Seek, Live,” Jones spoke simply and clearly as he told graduates that his career as an actor started much like where they were today with graduation. “It all starts with a dream about what’s ahead and what mark will we leave behind,” he said.
Jones encouraged graduates to seek out what they dream and are passionate about. He said that for him the most important work has been to seek out the face of God. His seeking has relied on the verse from Matthew 6:33 stating that God gives each person talents with the intent for them to use these talents fully.
Jones encouraged graduates to fully live their dreams saying that this is the hardest part for him personally. He told of the time that he had experienced success with several different film franchises. After working solidly for three years filming and promoting films, he had a time in his career where there was nothing more on his calendar. He was depleted, exhausted and depressed because his work had consumed all of his time and energy without living out his other roles of husband, brother, mentor that he has. He didn’t know who he was anymore and had to start valuing the many other roles in his life and give them the importance they deserved.
Jones ended his presentation telling how in a recent interview he was asked what it felt like to have arrived at the top of his acting career. He told the graduates that even though he has achieved many things professionally, he doesn’t consider that he has arrived. He said he won’t consider that he has arrived until he stands before the Lord at the end of his journey and hears the words he hopes to hear of “you have done well.”
This versatile actor, who has been to Judson twice before for the Imago Film Festival and first World Leaders Forum Inspirational Series, received an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree during the 10 a.m. ceremony for his work in film and television. A resolution in his honor noted that his life and work had a “profound impact worldwide in strengthening the Church through his service.”
During the 10 a.m. commencement ceremony, 125 students graduated, including 37 from the Traditional Undergraduate program, nine from the Master of Architecture program and 79 from the Division of Professional Studies programs: Masters (MBA, Master of Arts in Human Services Administration and Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership) and Adult Undergraduate (evening adult students) Bachelor of Arts and Associate of Arts.
At the 2 p.m. commencement program, 103 students graduated from the
Traditional Undergraduate program and nine from the Doctor of Education in Literacy (DLIT) program.
Distinguished academic awards for excellence and leadership were presented. Students who received acknowledgments include:
Arturo Cuevas of Carpentersville, Ill., is a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (Division of Professional Studies) graduate. He received the Ames Leadership Award, which is awarded to the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership student deemed by the Division of Professional Studies dean and faculty to have demonstrated skills in giving back to the community through leadership, vision, and spiritual guidance.
Patricia Gard of Elgin, Ill., is a Business Administration (Division of Professional Studies) graduate. She was honored with the President’s Scholar Award-Adult Professional Studies Undergraduate, which is Judson’s highest recognition for scholarship and is awarded to the graduating senior in the Adult Undergraduate program who has demonstrated distinguished academic achievement in the context of a Christian liberal arts program. An insightful, critical thinker and class leader, Gard is said to demonstrate the persistence and commitment that characterize a successful Judson student. She joined the staff at Judson University in 2003, serving as the executive assistant to the CFO and Vice President of Business Affairs. She is currently the Human Resource and Benefits Administrator at Judson.
Abigail Jungles of Freeport, Ill., is a Marketing and Management (Liberal Arts, Sciences and Education) graduate. She was awarded the Student Service Award-Traditional Undergraduate, which is presented to the graduating senior who best exemplifies sincerity and dedication to Christ, excellence in academic achievement, and dedication to the goals and mission of Judson University. During her time at Judson, she led small groups, shared her story in chapel, was a Dean’s List Honoree, participated in Global Outreach trips, worked as a camp counselor, played on the Women’s Tennis Team and served with the Judson Student Organization, becoming the elected Student Body President this past year.
Renata Lewis of Rockton, Ill., is an MBA (Division of Professional Studies) graduate. She was awarded the W.R. Meadows Award, which is presented to the Master of Business Administration student deemed by the Division of Professional Studies dean and faculty to have demonstrated the values that have been foundational to W.R. Meadows success: quality, service, integrity and family.
Rosalie Maria Mahler of Northbrook, Ill., is an Elementary Education (Liberal Arts, Sciences and Education) graduate. She was honored with the President’s Scholar Award-Traditional Undergraduate, which is Judson’s highest recognition for scholarship and is awarded to the graduating senior in the Traditional Program who has demonstrated distinguished academic achievement in the context of a Christian liberal arts program. Rosalie was a member of the Honors Program as she completed her degree to become an elementary education teacher. She has endorsements in Special Education and English as a Second Language. She was on the Dean’s List every semester and was an officer in Kappa Delta Pi, the International Honor Society in Education. She also worked as an assistant Resident Director; designed choreography for musicals at local schools; taught under-sourced students in summer internships; and served four years on the Judson Belize serving team.
Kimberly Voller of Marengo, Ill., is a Business Administration (Division of Professional Studies) graduate. She received the Student Service Award-Adult Professional Studies Undergraduate, which is presented to the graduating senior who best exemplifies sincerity and dedication to Christ, excellence in academic achievement, and dedication to the goals and mission of Judson University.