North Greenville University celebrated fall graduation on a snowy Saturday morning, Dec. 9, at Turner Chapel. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster addressed the more than 200 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral candidates.
McMaster encouraged the graduates to “never give up” and to “dream big” during his speech. He detailed his personal journey to the governor’s office and the political questions facing the state today.
“Always push yourself if you can’t get others to push you,” McMaster said. His quest for the governor’s office began before 1986, but through numerous setbacks did not become governor until 2015 after Nikki Haley resigned to become United Nations ambassador.
McMaster touted diversity and adherence to Christian values as what attracts people, including foreign investors, to the state.
He encouraged graduates to take risks, as he did when he first supported then political newcomer and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
“Everybody said that is the dumbest thing, your political career is over. Then, on election [day], I became a genius,” McMaster said to laughter.
McMaster, a lawyer by trade, also asked graduates to stay informed and to actively participate in the political and legal process.
On abortion, McMaster said, “I have concluded, based on my experience, my faith, and my understanding, that the right thing to do in South Carolina, among other things that can be done by law, is to say not one penny of your tax money will go to any abortion clinic or abortion in South Carolina.”
Following his speech, NGU president Gene C. Fant Jr. awarded McMaster with an honorary doctor of law degree and a Bible.
In addition, Pauline Emery, a friend of the university, was presented an honorary doctor of divinity degree.
“North Greenville University has never had supporters more influential than Dr. Arnold and Pauline Emery,” said president Gene Fant. “Dr. Arnold Emery holds more degrees from the university than any other individual. He has graduated from the academy, junior college, and has taken a bachelor’s, master’s, and a doctorate from the university. He has served on several terms of the NGU board of trustees, many as chairman.”
Pauline Emery was honored for her time spent in prayer and in God’s Word. She said a pastor challenged his congregation to read two to 8 verses a day. This challenge, along with her grandmother’s influence, led her to read the Bible more than 340 times.
“This is a great honor,” she said.
While presenting her a Bible, Fant said, “We thought yours might be worn out.”
Emery encouraged the audience to read their Bibles. “It will lead you in the path of righteousness,” she said.
— LaVerne Howell is director of communications at North Greenville University.