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Columbia College to hold winter commencement Saturday, Dec. 17
Friday, December 16, 2005

[Columbia, Mo.] - The Rev. John J. Yonker, senior minister of First Christian Church in Columbia, will address graduates at the Columbia College main campus commencement ceremony at 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 17 in Southwell Complex (700 Range Line Road) in Columbia.

Rev. Yonker earned a bachelor's degree in 1968 from Austin Peay University in Clarksville, Tenn.; a Master of Divinity degree in 1972 from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas; and a Doctor of Ministry degree in 1993 from Lexington Theological Seminary in Lexington, Ky.

He currently chairs the Commission on the Order of Ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Mid-America. Rev. Yonker was ordained to the ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at the Hamilton Christian Church in St. Louis in 1972. He served congregations in St. Charles, Kansas City, and Cameron, Mo., and in Roswell, N. M., before beginning service in 1992 at the First Christian Church in Columbia. He is an active member of the Columbia College Board of Trustees, serving as the chair of the educational policies committee and as a member of the executive and athletics committees.

The college will confer undergraduate and master's degrees to nearly 650 students from the main and nationwide campuses in December. Of that number, 270 are expected to participate in the ceremony in Columbia, including more than 50 graduates representing the college's Nationwide campuses. Students from Columbia College campuses in Missouri, including Jefferson City, Kansas City, Christian County, Lake Ozark, Rolla and Moberly will attend, as well as students from the Park City, Ill., Salt Lake City, Utah, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, campuses. The college will confer degrees to 36 nursing students.

The college also will confer its first associate degree to a student majoring in fire service administration. Kyle Smith completed the degree requirements in October and will participate in winter commencement.

Smith, a nine-year fire service veteran, is a volunteer firefighter with the Boone County Fire Protection District at Station 6 in Sturgeon, Mo. He was promoted to lieutenant with the fire protection district 18 months ago. He also has served for six years as the logistics coordinator for the Fire and Rescue Training Institute (FRTI) at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Kyle Clizer, a student at the home campus in Columbia, will receive the college's first bachelor's degree in sports management.

In addition, three students will graduate with the college's first Bachelor of Science degrees in Business Administration in Human Resource Management.

Columbia College serves more than 20,000 students each year at its Day Campus, Evening Campus, Nationwide Campuses, Online Campus and Graduate Studies program.

The college was founded in 1851 as Christian Female College and was renamed Columbia College in 1970 when it became coeducational.