Almost 1,000 spring graduates were celebrated at Butler Community College this May. Those attending the college’s 94th induction exercise were dressed in purple robes and boards of mortar. Graduates entered the field of BG Products Veterans Sports Complex on Friday, May 14th to accept their diplomas.
The opening speaker for the evening was Butler’s Distinguished Alumna 2021, Junetta Everett. Everett, a first generation student, joined Butler in 1973 and participated in athletics. She was instrumental in the organization of Butler’s Black Student Union (now Black Student Association) and was its president.
After graduating from Butler, Everett received her bachelor’s degree from Wichita State University. She was the first African American to complete the WSU’s dental hygiene program, which made her the first African American female dental hygienist in Kansas.
After serving as a registered dental hygienist for more than a decade, Everett joined Delta Dental of Kansas in 1987 and recently retired after serving as vice president of professional relations for the past 27 years.
Throughout her career, Everett has focused on diversity and inclusion, improving opportunities for minorities and women. She has served Wichita and the surrounding area extensively. In 2020, she was Chair of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce – the first person of color and only the sixth woman in the chamber’s history to serve as Chair. Her other board service includes the Kansas Health Foundation, Wesley Hospital, Equity Bank, and several boards at Wichita State University. After receiving numerous awards for her service to the area, Everett was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Kansas African American Trailblazer.
Everett’s inspirational speech to the graduates showed examples of people, including himself, who failed to accept the limits of society but instead managed to write their own stories.
Everett told of the many adversities she had to overcome in order to achieve her life goals.
“It’s my story and I didn’t let anyone hold the pen,” she said.
As she graduated, Everett encouraged graduates to take responsibility for their own success.
“As you move forward from this day and start a new chapter in your life, you will build a door when the opportunity doesn’t knock.”
Everett continued, “Embrace the journey. Experience new things. Challenge yourself and others. Be vulnerable, but be brave. Do not contribute to the richest place on earth. Prove to yourself that you have what it takes to succeed. It is your pen. It is your story. Now go and write it. ”
Following Everett’s speech, the Hubbard of Excellence and Board of Trustee Scholarships were presented to two outstanding Butler students, Janet Busenitz and Mara Stewart.
The Hubbard Award of Excellence, Butler’s most prestigious award, is given each spring to a sophomore graduate. The winner will receive a $ 15,000 scholarship to the college or university of their choice. The name will appear on the Hubbard Tree of Knowledge. Each of the other four finalists will receive a $ 500 scholarship that can be used at their transfer institution.
Rod Young, President of the Board of Trustees and member of the Forrest Rhodes Board of Trustees, presented this year’s award to Janet Busenitz von Burns.
Busenitz will continue her education at the University of Kansas with a degree in nursing. She has compassion and strives to influence humanity by serving as a nurse. One of Janet’s professors described her as a student whose classmates and colleagues took an interest in her.
“Our finalists for the Hubbard Award of Excellence 2021 are the best of the best. They are incredible students both in the classroom and in their communities, ”said Rhodes.
The Butler Community College Board of Trustee Scholarship was presented to Mara Stewart of El Dorado. Stewart will continue her educational journey in marketing at Oklahoma Christian University. While at Butler, she was president of the Collegiate DECA Club, interned in Butler’s marketing department, and headlined the Butler.
Hubbard Award finalists
· Janet Busenitz, Burns, Kan.
· Martha Moenning, Hayfield, Minn.
· Jessie Nibarger, Towanda, Kan.
· Mara Stewart, El Dorado, Kan.