BPC Celebrates 118th Commencement with First Nursing and Seminary Graduates

(Pictured above: 2024 Graduating Class receives an address by Dr. Steven Echols, President of Brewton-Parker College

MOUNT VERNON – Brewton-Parker College (BPC) proudly celebrated the academic accomplishments of its graduating class at a historical commencement ceremony on April 17, 2024. The ceremony, attended by esteemed faculty, proud families, and distinguished guests, was a significant moment for the college. Not only was it a celebration of a milestone in the graduates’ lives, but it also announced the completion of degrees of our first nursing cohort and the first master’s level graduates from both the online and Spanish programs through Temple Baptist Theological Seminary (TBTS).

“We are immensely proud of the remarkable achievements of our graduates,” said Dr. Steven Echols, President of Brewton-Parker College. “The spiritual and academic growth displayed in our students and throughout the campus is a testament to the great things God is doing at Brewton-Parker College.”

(Madison Byrd, Valedictorian and nursing graduate, presents an address to the 2024 graduating class.)

Valedictorian and B.S. in Nursing graduate Madison Hope Byrd delivered a speech to her fellow graduates, encouraging them to continue in the perseverance, courage, and principles that were instilled in them at BPC into their next phase of life. As one of the nine nursing graduates, Byrd has endured a rigorous program that has equipped her with the knowledge and experience needed to embrace the impending challenges of healthcare.

Starting its developmental journey in 2018, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing from BPC has emerged as a beacon of excellence, preparing competent and compassionate students through prioritized experiential learning, hands-on laboratory practice, simulation exercises, and real-world clinical components. Placing a focus on servant leadership, this program provides opportunities for training that will benefit the community and produce professionals who will be ambassadors for Christ in the medical field.

(Pictured above: 2024 Nursing Graduates. From left to right: Leslie Smith, Payton Blanchett, Jennifer Gregory, Leah Henry, Breanne Stanley, Kara Bedingfield, Madison Byrd, Jarrod Holmes, and Patrick Stevenson.)

Dr. Debbie Bryerly, Director of Nursing, comments on the first cohort’s accomplishments, “I am so proud to celebrate our first graduating cohort of nursing students! Their growth and passion for patient care have been exciting to watch. They are ready to make a profound difference in the lives of their patients. I am excited to see what the future holds for them.”

In addition, the college was proud to honor a milestone for Temple Baptist Theological Seminary. This academic year’s completion marked the graduation of BPC’s first master’s-level students. TBTS is a division of BPC that provides graduate-level biblical, theological, and ministry education and training for pastors, ministers, and others who wish to be prepared to serve Christ in their local churches and through other ministries. As an exclusively online program, the courses are tailored to fit the busy schedules of pastors, staff ministers, bi-vocational ministers, and lay persons who may be unable to leave the ministry field and pursue education full-time. Chad Cofield, the first graduate of TBTS and full-time pastor of First Baptist Church of Soperton, is one of many who have committed to furthering their education to grow spiritually and professionally for their current and future work in ministry.

(Seminary Graduates. From left to right: Thomas Bowers, Joshua Boyette. Not pictured graduate, Chad Cofield, Justin Russell, and Eric Geyer.)

In response to the graduate’s achievements, Dr. Mark Gregory, Dean of TBTS, commented, “We celebrate the accomplishments of the first Temple Baptist Theological Seminary graduates. To be a part of the journey of our first seminary graduates has been an honor and a joy. They have worked hard to deepen their knowledge of the scriptures and sharpen their ministry skills. With these first graduating students, we are fulfilling our mission as a seminary and as a college.”

This year’s Commencement marked incredible accomplishments for the college. These blessings are a testament to God’s work as BPC strives to fulfill its mission of seeing students’ lives transformed both academically and spiritually for His glory.

Brewton-Parker College is the only accredited four-year Christian college south of Macon and north of Jacksonville, FL. As a comprehensive Georgia Baptist institution, Brewton-Parker College provides liberal arts and professional programs in a learning community of shared Christian values. Through the application of biblical truth in scholarship and a co-curricular focus on character, servant leadership, and cultural engagement, the college strives to provide a transformational experience that equips the whole student for lifelong learning and service in Christ.

Visit Brewton-Parker College online at www.bpc.edu


Joanna Phillips-Mock

Student Enrichment Director

Joanna Phillips-Mock is a proud third generation Baron, both as a student and a staff member.

Beginning her teaching career in Middle Georgia in 1995, Mrs. Mock worked with a state funded program that served some of the most disadvantaged special needs students within the local school districts. She ultimately moved into leadership positions within the organization, serving and training others in multiple initiatives. She enjoys working with students of all ages to recognize and to achieve their greatest potential.

Mrs. Mock holds a Bachelor’s degree from Brewton-Parker College, a Master's degree in Education with a concentration in Behavior Disorders, and an Education Specialist degree in Educational Administration from Georgia College and State University. She resides in Ailey, Georgia, with her husband Don, their son Tye Lewis, her mother Carol Joyce, and multiple fur babies. She enjoys traveling, gardening, camping, and attending concerts.

Candace Lilford

Profeessional Tutor

Candace Lilford graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Theatre Generalism in 2021 from Anderson University and with her master’s degree in English Literature in 2023 from the University of Alabama. She presently serves as Professional Tutor for the Student Enrichment Center while also teaching sections of ENG 101 and 102. 

As part of her two-year master's program, Ms. Lilford taught sections of ENG 101 and 102, while also serving as teaching assistant for British Literature Survey courses and volunteering in the university’s Writing Center. Ms Lilford has also presented papers at the Hudson Strode Conference and the South Eastern Christian and Literature Conference as well as working on various theatrical productions.

Born in North Carolina of South African descent, Ms. Lilford has lived in Uganda, Botswana, South Africa, and Trinidad before settling in Mount Vernon with her family in 2016, where she attended Brewton-Parker College as a dual enrollment student. She presently resides in Mount Vernon with her family and spends her free time watching old TV shows.

Linda Armstrong

Academic Advising and Career Specialist

Linda Armstrong earned an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice Technology from Southeastern Technical College and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Walden University. Throughout her career, Linda has worked with diverse populations, including at-risk youth and families and youth in crisis because of mental health and other issues. Her empathetic nature has made her an effective advocate for those in need. In addition to her professional work, Linda is also is committed to volunteerism. She has dedicated countless hours as a youth mentor, and to teaching about her faith at various Christian organizations. She believes in the power of positivity and its ability to transform not only her life but also the lives of others.

"If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you will look forward, do so prayerfully. But the wisest course would be to be present in the present gratefully." ~ Maya Angelou

Willie Ford

Academic Advising and Career Specialist

Greetings, Baron Nation!

It's truly a joy to be back in a place that has shaped me so profoundly. I'm Willie Ford, a proud 2022 graduate of historic Brewton-Parker College, holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a Minor in Education. Following my graduation, I embarked on a journey in education, teaching Special Education within the Vidalia City School District. In addition to my role as an educator, I had the privilege of serving as the Unit Director at the J.D. Rabun Boys and Girls Club. All the while, I was honored to pastor at the esteemed New Hope Baptist Church of Rhine, Georgia. With God's grace, I managed these responsibilities, and now, I'm thrilled and ready to contribute to the welfare of our students, aiming to inspire through service.

Dusty Arnold

Mental Health Counselor

Dusty Arnold  is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst as well as a BPC alumnus. He has years of experience working with a variety of mental health issues including anxiety, grief, and challenges related to Autism. He specializes in behavior-related interventions that can help college students build on their strengths to set achievable goals while also learning how to deal with the thoughts and feelings that sometimes get in the way. He incorporates Biblical values and evidence-based treatments to meet students wherever they happen to be on their journey to spiritual and psychological health. 

Carl Anthony "Tony" Wardlaw

Assistant Student Enrichment Director & Student Success Coach

Carl Anthony “Tony” Wardlaw – For over 25 years, Dr. Wardlaw has worked in leadership, counseling, and pastoring. Beginning with working in middle management for a manufacturing company in Douglas, GA, Dr. Wardlaw has also worked in the academic, nonprofit, public, and private sectors. Additionally, he served over 7 years in the United States Military as a Military Intelligence Officer before resigning his commission as a Captain in the Army.

Currently serving as the Assistant Director of the Student Enrichment Center, Student Success Coach, and Adjunct Faculty at Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, GA, he also serves as the Pastor of The Green Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Dublin, GA.

As a member of the renowned International Gospel Singing Group, The Wardlaw Brothers, Dr. Wardlaw has traveled all over the nation and abroad ministering and singing the Gospel of Christ Jesus. Dr. Wardlaw has served as a consultant for various agencies and has worked as a Fatherhood Coordinator and G.E.D. instructor within the Technical College System of Georgia and participates in local and national civic and philanthropic work.

Dr. Wardlaw holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in International Business from the University of Georgia, two master's degrees from Troy University (Master of Science in Clinical Counseling and Psychology and Master of Education in Counseling), and a Doctorate in Education from Argosy University in Organizational Leadership. Dr. Wardlaw is a Lifetime Silver Member of The NAACP and a member of The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He is happily married to the former Mrs. Stephanie Scott. They have 3 Children; Chambria, Marc, and Carleigh.

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