Dr. Kia Conerway, a renowned strategist, consultant, and founding pastor of Church at the Well, enthralled the graduating Class of 2024 with her keynote speech at this year’s Baccalaureate Service.

The service, held on Thursday, May 9, was held in the historic Oakland Memorial Chapel on the Lorman campus.

Conerway, an alumna of Clark Atlanta University, the University of Chicago, and Memphis Theological Seminary, has nearly two decades of experience in shaping strategies for churches, politicians, and non-profit organizations in the South. Her expertise in fundraising and consulting has earned her recognition, having successfully raised funds for multiple church launches and three of the largest churches in the Mid-South.

During her address, Conerway emphasized the significance of the term “VIP” and its historical context.

She shared, “90 years ago, the acronym VIP was first penned by Compton Mackenzie. It originally referred to the highest ranking military officials but evolved to symbolize individuals of high social status, influence, aristocracy, and goals of greater importance depending on the context.”

Addressing the graduates directly, Dr. Conerway continued, “And I submit to you this morning, graduates, you are our VIPs. But how many of us know that being a VIP is not just pomp and circumstance?”

She encouraged the graduates to embrace their journey into the future, assuring them that although uncertainties may arise, they serve a God who has it all figured out.

“So many of you are worried about what is ending, what is concluding, what is shattering, what is breaking, what is being severed, what is being broken, what is being divorced, overcome, what is being repossessed.  But you’re walking into destiny. You may not have it all figured out, but you serve a God who does,” she affirmed.

She concluded her address by reminding the graduates of their importance, stating, “You are VIPs this morning. And though it might be ugly, you might lose some sleep, you might need some more money, you might need a better circle of friends, you might be about to move. And it’s scary, but you can never lose hope because Jesus provides a way of escape before the big trouble comes.”

Dr. Tracy M. Cook, 21st president of Alcorn State University, delivered closing remarks to the graduates.

“On behalf of the university, we just want to thank the administration, deans, chairs, faculty and staff, that have supported our graduates,” said Cook. “Graduating Class of 2024, we wish you well. We ask that you continue to stay focused on your goals. Learn how to adjust, be flexible, and adapt to life.”