Graduation Is Bittersweet


by CBC President Terry Kimbrow

On Saturday, May 7, 2016, Central Baptist College held its 61st commencement ceremony.  Graduation is always bittersweet. It’s a joyous occasion, filled with family and friends celebrating a milestone in the lives of their students, but it’s also a sad occasion as faculty and staff say goodbye to the students they have nurtured and grown to love over the years.  The parting is difficult, but happiness can be found knowing that the mission of Central Baptist College has been accomplished.

At this time of the year, the institution sometimes says goodbye to faculty as well.  Fortunately, that does not happen very often, but occasionally faculty do retire or accept new challenges in life.  This year, we must say farewell to Mrs. Linda Vailes and Dr. Latasha Smith.  Both are outstanding faculty who have taught in the Math and Science Department for a number of years. They will be missed!

Linda Vailes came to Central Baptist College as an Associate Professor of Mathematics.  She had previously been a secondary math teacher in public schools for 38 years, teaching at Grapevine, Watson Chapel, and Sheridan schools.  At CBC, Linda has taught everything from remedial courses to Calculus.  It’s easy to see why she has been successful: she has a heart for students and a love for teaching!  Over the years, many students have expressed their appreciation for Mrs. Vailes; she has helped them conquer their fear of math.  I really appreciate her commitment to Central Baptist College.  Anyone who is willing to commute from Sheridan to Conway on a daily basis deserves my admiration.  Just to put it into perspective, that’s about 183,000 miles traveled during her tenure at CBC-- equivalent to traveling across the United States 65 times!

Ms. Judy Gabbard, Chair of the Math & Science Department had this to say about her, “Linda is one of the most unselfish people I know. She always did whatever I asked of her, and many things I did not, and did it with a humble attitude. She has taught a class at 7:00 am to accommodate students who needed a class. I have seen her in the hallway & in the classroom next to mine personally tutoring students. I will miss seeing her at CBC. She always brightened my day when I saw her.”

Division Chair Dr. Elizabeth Gomez said, “Linda always had each individual student’s best interest at heart.  I passed her office on the way to mine each morning.  By the time I arrived most mornings, she would already be working one-on-one with a student, helping the student individually in whichever math course he or she was taking, even before the school day had officially started.  We will hire another math instructor, but we will not replace Linda Vailes.”

Since she was hired in 2005, Linda Vailes has been a blessing to students and employees!  I wish her well as she retires.

Dr. Latasha Smith came to Central Baptist College as an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry in 2008.  She has brought recognition and credibility to her department and our institution by conducting research, attending Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and working with NASA.  Dr. Gary McAllister, Vice President for Academic Affairs, had this to say about Latasha, “Dr. Smith’s teaching has been exemplary, and many students have sent notes and made comments regarding her depth of knowledge and ability to convey difficult concepts; in addition, employees and students love her sweet spirit!  I wish her well as she continues her research at the Mayo Clinic.”

I cannot fully express my gratitude for the wonderful job they have done!  They have done more than just teach math and science; they have taught in the light of faith, modeled Christian values, and encouraged spiritual growth. 

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