MILLIGAN COLLEGE — When Kelly Devault walked across the stage at Milligan College’s Seeger Memorial Chapel on Saturday afternoon to receive her degree with one of Milligan’s largest graduating classes, she also became the sixth generation of Milligan graduates from her family.
From her parents, to both sets of grandparents, aunts and uncles, the family’s Milligan history began long ago, starting with her great-great-great-great grandfather.
“My family has a long history of being ... on Milligan’s board, as well as everyone ... attending Milligan ... for a long time,” Devault said. “I had always grown up knowing about Milligan and then when I was in high school I had a chance to visit and once I stepped on campus, I realized why everyone else in my family had come to Milligan and I knew it was a perfect fit for me.”
Graduating with a bachelor’s of science degree in child and youth development, with a minor in children’s ministry, Devault, a native of Bristol, said she will be moving right along into a yearlong master’s degree program in elementary education from, yet again, Milligan College.
“The thing I love most about Milligan is the close-knit community,” she said. “Some of the professors I would consider really close friends and I like that. I was fortunate enough to have a great roommate, great suite mates. All those things encompassed together just made it a wonderful experience.”
Devault said the feeling of continuing her family’s Milligan history hasn’t quite hit her yet, but said she’s “excited to carry on that tradition.”
As the seats started filling up on the floor and in the balcony, family members were popping out cameras and adjusting their view of the stage as eager graduates waited in line to walk out for the commencement ceremony.
Jaimee Hill, receiving her bachelor’s of science degree in business administration, said she was feeling many emotions, which included excitement, relief and joy.
Hill, a former Science Hill High School graduate, played basketball for Milligan, which she said has provided her with a variety of fond memories.
“A lot of people told me ... after you graduate high school (that) college goes by so fast, and I didn’t really believe them,” she said. “It’s gone by so fast. I loved the close-knit (community) of the campus. I also loved the fact that the classes aren’t too big. You get to know your teachers on a relationship basis.”
Ryan Evans, originally from Owensboro, Ky., said his relationship with Milligan had an early start, as he attended the North American Christian Convention and met some of the Bible faculty from the college.
“I really liked them, so it got me interested in the school, so I came and toured and it felt like home,” he said.
Majoring in Bible, Evans said he has already secured a job in Winston-Salem, N.C., at Pinedale Christian Church, where he said he would be heading to following his graduation.
Evans said he will take many memories from his time at Milligan with him, including getting engaged to his fiancé, Megan Foote, but also said he feels prepared to step out into the real world.
“We’re prepared. We’re prepared to go out and be servant leaders,” he said.
The Friday and Saturday commencements featured an address to the graduates by Gary Richardson, a 1978 Milligan College alumnus who has worked in education, broadcasting, ministry and theater.
Friday night’s commencement ceremony honored students in graduate and professional studies programs.