BETHANY, W.Va. – Within the sea of caps and gowns at Bethany College’s 179th Commencement ceremony, two graduates were honored with the highest recognition for academic excellence on Saturday, May 11. Emily Rose Griffith of Bridgeport, W.Va., and Haley Autumn Thompson of Toronto, Ohio, were both named class valedictorians and recipients of the Oreon E. Scott Award, given to the student(s) with the highest academic standing.

Learning who achieved this prestigious standing during the actual Commencement ceremony is a tradition at Bethany College with the news annually being shared by Dr. Joe Lane, Provost and Dean of the Faculty.

“Emily Griffith and Haley Thompson represent the very best that a Bethany education offers highly talented students,” Dr. Lane said. “Both are gifted intellects, but more importantly, they have learned to use their talents to advance our knowledge and make a difference in the world. They will surely rise to the top of their professions and make us all very proud.”

Griffith, who graduated summa cum laude, is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Brian Griffith. An interdisciplinary studies major with a concentration in psychology, religion, and culture, she completed Bethany’s rigorous comprehensive exam with distinction, an honor reserved only for those who perform exceptionally well and show mastery of their field of study in both written and oral assessments.

Throughout her four years at Bethany, Griffith was also repeatedly recognized for her studies and leadership. In 2018, she earned the Theodore R. Kimpton Prize for excellence in French studies.

She also received the Harold R. & Evelyn N. Watkins Pre-Ministerial Award for superior Christian leadership and service, and the Frank Roy Gay Award, which is given to the senior interdisciplinary major with a grade-point average of 3.5 or above who displays outstanding leadership qualities. Inducted into the Society for Distinguished Campus Leaders, Griffith is also a member of two honor societies, Theta Alpha Kappa and Psi Chi.

Griffith came to Bethany College from Bridgeport High School in Bridgeport, W.Va.

With plans to become a professor of religion, Griffith ultimately hopes to spends the next few years at divinity school, completing a master’s program before working toward her Ph.D.
Thompson, also a summa cum laude graduate, is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David Thompson. A biology major, she earned distinction on her comprehensive exam, capping her distinguished academic career at Bethany where she was also honored with several awards.

In 2017, Thompson earned the Beta Beta Beta Award, which recognizes the student who has received the highest grades in the College’s initial courses in biology. The past April, she added the B.K. Weimer Award, given to the senior in biology who has attained the highest academic rank in this major, to her impressive portfolio of academic accomplishments.

Inducted into three societies, Griffith holds membership in the Gamma Sigma Kappa Scholastic Society, Beta Beta Beta, the national biological honor society, and Alpha Epsilon Delta, the Texas-based National Health Preprofessional Honor Society dedicated to the encouragement and recognition of excellence in preprofessional health scholarship.

She came to Bethany from Edison High School in Richmond, Ohio.

After a summer spent interning with Dr. Pendleton at Cadiz Animal Clinic, in Cadiz, Ohio, Thompson will head to Ohio State, College of Veterinary Medicine as a DVM candidate in the fall.

Thompson plans to get a master’s degree in public health and a doctorate in veterinary medicine within the next four years in order to achieve her goal of owning a veterinary clinic and nonprofit no-kill shelter.

About Bethany College

Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.