Graduates from 2019: Where They Are Now

February 14, 2020 Felicity Neptune, Staff Writer

(ABILENE, Texas)–Since its creation in 1891, Hardin-Simmons University has aimed to provide an education to everyone regardless of race, gender, or social status. The university has dedicated itself to maintaining the mission that HSU’s namesake founder, James B. Simmons, began as he partnered with merchants, ranchers, and pastors more than 100 years ago.

After graduating less than a year ago, HSU alumni share where they are in their lives now.

College of Fine Arts

With a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Acting, Michael Kelly signed a contract with a premiere production and casting agency in New York called RWS Entertainment Group. He received a six-month contract working for the company internationally beginning only three days after he graduated in May.

Since completing the initial six-month contract, Kelly has continued working for RWS Entertainment Group. He has since completed another two contracts for the company. Kelly portrayed Jesse-Host in Daniel Tiger’s Grrrific Day: Children’s Musical Series and Milo in Mistletails: A Hip-Hop Holiday Celebration. He has accepted another contract to perform as a soloist in a musical cabaret titled Bound For Broadway. It will be hosted at the West End Theatre Club in Manhattan.

Kelly gives HSU credit for his success in the theatre industry.

“I continue to audition and am pleased to tell you that my undergraduate studies and the opportunities afforded to me at HSU have set me up for what I believe will be an exciting and impactful career, which, in the end, is all I could have ever hoped for,” he said.

Doctorate of Physical Therapy

From Georgetown, Texas, Aaron Walling completed his undergraduate degree in biology at Howard Payne University before attending the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program at HSU.

Aaron Walling, graduated from the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program in December 2019.
Aaron Walling, graduated from the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program in December 2019.

Walling was very active on campus and in the community. He was involved in intramurals, volunteering for Boots on the Ground, American Heart Walk, and other services around town. Along with his DPT classmates at HSU, Walling participated in a two-week, two-part mission trip partnered with Joni & Friends, a non-profit organization headquartered in Plano, Texas. The trip consisted of one week at their annual Family Retreat camp and one week in Peru with Wheels for the World providing wheelchairs and other assistive equipment for disabled individuals.

“HSU’s DPT program is phenomenal at preparing us for any job as a doctor of physical therapy, whether that be at a major hospital in the city, a rural outpatient clinic, third-world missions with Joni & Friends, or at West Texas Rehab here in Abilene,” said Walling. “The university as a whole has been very supportive of us, and I could not have picked a better school to come to earn my Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree.”

In February, Walling will begin employment as a physical therapist at West Texas Rehabilitation Center. He will be working in the adult department alongside several HSU alumni and a fellow classmate.

Also a graduate from the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program, Chris Graves, from Oxford, New York, first attended the State University of New York at Oneonta, majoring in biology, before transferring to Hardin-Simmons University.

“HSU encourages you to be active with professional and/or student organizations that enable you to be up to date in your field of practice,” Graves said. “HSU staff challenge and invest in their students so that they can be successful and marketable as future workers and people following graduation.”

Graves was a very active student on and off campus. He frequently studied in the library, worked out in the newly developed Fletcher Fitness Center, and helped serve the community at events such as Night to Shine and Boots on the Ground that aimed to serve those with disabilities.

“HSU has provided with me numerous opportunities to work hands-on and develop my ability to interview and educate patients, perform testing, and provide treatment,” said Graves.

Since graduating HSU in December, Graves has accepted a position as an Adult Physical Therapist in Abilene at West Texas Rehabilitation Center, where he will be working to restore patient’s motion and strength to resume activities after an injury or surgery.

Cynthia Ann Parker College of Liberal Arts

From Eula, Scarlett Yates graduated in December with a major in strategic communication and a minor in marketing.

Scarlett Yates graduated in December 2019 with a B.B.S. in strategic communication.
Scarlett Yates graduated in December 2019 with a B.B.S. in strategic communication.

Throughout her time on the Forty Acres, Yates was very involved in her community. Attending church at Beltway Park, she traveled to Ireland on a mission trip working with children at Alive Church in Enniscorthy. She was also very passionate about visiting nursing homes around Abilene, listening and learning about the lives that many of their residents have lived.

In August of her senior year, Yates received a position as the Resident Coordinator at Alpha-Barnes Real Estate Services where she plans community wide events for residents as well as conducting community outreach to all new and existing residents. Other responsibilities include promoting and facilitating youth programs and special projects to all new and existing child and young adult residents.

“I love working here because it allows me to make an impact on vulnerable youth,” said Yates. “My time at HSU showed me to be empathetic and caring to people from all walks of life. I believe that is a common goal for any graduate from the Fair Daughter of the West.”

For more stories from students at HSU, check out a variety of HSU Stories on our website.