American National University

Former Prisoner Of War Encourages Graduates to Go After What They Want

On Wednesday, June 1, the ANU Parkersburg Campus celebrated the accomplishments of the Class of 2016 during its graduation ceremony at the Grand Pointe Conference & Reception Center. The campus was honored to have Jessica Lynch, former Private First Class in the United States Army and former Prisoner of War, as the commencement speaker.

Ms. Lynch, a home town hero, captivated the audience with her story as she explained that on March 23, 2003 her life was literally turned upside down. “What could have gone wrong, went wrong, and then some,” she shared. 

On this unforgettable day, her convoy was ambushed by Iraqi forces in Iraq when her unit wrecked into an 18-wheeler.  Although she was captured and sustained extensive injuries, she had no choice but to lay there suffering for nine brutal days until a team of US Special Forces rescued her.

“My favorite part of graduation was the guest speaker!”

Jessica told the graduates and their guests that faith and God helped her overcome the battle of her life. She shared that perseverance was also a big part of her not giving up hope. Although she knows not everyone’s story would be like hers, Jessica said she hoped that the audience could connect and relate in one way or another. She feels that willpower and determination can truly help individuals live fulfilling lives and accomplish many goals, no matter the obstacles they may experience.  She also encouraged the graduates to take one day at a time, but to go after what they want!

The graduates and their guests were spellbound by Jessica’s story, including Katharine Reynolds a phlebotomy + ECG program graduate. “My favorite part of graduation was the guest speaker!” she said.

Congratulations to the Parkersburg Class of 2016, including the following students who received awards in recognition of their leadership and academic excellence: Achievement Award – Kyna Hill; Leadership Award – Tyson Kemp; E.M. Coulter Award –Daphne Jarvis; Mary P. McGurn Award – Ashley Weaver; and Joseph E. Hurn Award – Alysha Weaver.

Photo A-Graduates from the Class of 2016 celebrated their academic achievements during the ANU Parkersburg Campus’s Commencement Ceremony.

Photo B-Commencement speaker Jessica Lynch (center) is pictured with instructor Dr. Mike Cox (left) and campus director Mechelle Drake (right) at the ANU Parkersburg Commencement Ceremony.

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