Graduates to walk down the Avenue of the Oaks at commencement May 5

Wed, 04/25/2012 - 1:45pm

MOBILE, Ala. – Nearly 300 graduates will make the historic walk down the “Avenue of the Oaks” at Spring Hill College’s commencement exercises on Saturday, May 5. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. on the college’s historic Avenue of the Oaks.

The college will hold its annual Baccalaureate Mass for graduates and their families on Friday, May 4 at 4:30 p.m. in the Arthur R. Outlaw Recreation Center on campus.

Sonja F. Bivins, United States Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of Alabama and a 1985 graduate of Spring Hill, will be the keynote speaker.

After earning her B.S. degree in political science from Spring Hill, Bivins attended the University of Alabama School of Law where she was awarded her Juris Doctor in 1988. She was elected to the Spring Hill College Board of Trustees in 2007.

Bivins previously served as a judicial law clerk for the late Honorable United States District Judge Virgil Pittman in the Southern District of Alabama. 

Upon the completion of her clerkship, she relocated to Atlanta and began the practice of law. Bivins’ primary practice focus was the representation of employers in a broad spectrum of employment-related matters. While in private practice, Bivins participated in Leadership DeKalb and served as President of the DeKalb Lawyers Association and as a board member for the DeKalb Rape Crisis Center.

In 2004, Bivins returned to Mobile upon her appointment as a United States Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of Alabama.  Her professional interests include the Just the Beginning Foundation, a multiracial, nonprofit organization comprised of lawyers, judges, and other citizens. The foundation is dedicated to developing and nurturing interest in the law among young persons from various socioeconomic, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. 

Bivins also serves as a mentor to Spring Hill students interested in law careers and is involved in other activities designed to also help equip young people to make good decisions, to excel academically and to become servant leaders in their communities.  Bivins has taught youth Sunday school and vacation Bible school classes, helped to organize and chaperone college tours, coached and judged student moot court and mock trial competitions, hosted student interns in chambers, participated in countless career fairs at local schools, and served as a respite parent for a family and children services agency. 

This year’s commencement will include the first group of Donnelly Scholars to complete their undergraduate degrees. The Donnelly Scholars program was established in 2008 to serve first-generation college students at Spring Hill College.  The program is named in honor of Rev. W. Patrick Donnelly, S.J, 31st president of the college from 1946-1952.   

The Donnelly Scholars are students whose parents did not graduate from four-year institutions. Second-generation students have an advantage over first-generation students since second-generation parents have knowledge about how to maneuver through college. The Donnelly Scholars program assists first-generation students with time management, leadership development opportunities and other activities. Eleven Donnelly Scholars will receive their degrees May 5.

NOTE:  The commencement ceremony will be available via a live video Webcast beginning at 9:55 a.m.  Saturday, May 5 on the college’s Website at:

In the event of inclement weather, the commencement ceremony will be held in the Arthur R. Outlaw Recreation center on campus at 11 a.m. May 5 and announcements would be made on the college Web site and on the information line at 251-380-2262 only if the rain plan is implemented.