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Kansas City Leader, BVU Alum, Tapped as Keynote Speaker for Historic Commencement

April 02, 2021 9:13am

A Buena Vista University graduate serves as keynote speaker in a trio of addresses during the 2020 and 2021 Commencement exercises at BVU on May 8th and May 9th.

Adrienne Haynes, attorney, entrepreneur, and community volunteer, had no hesitation in accepting the BVU invitation to share a special message with hundreds of graduates and their family members, a weekend celebration that may ultimately help the BVU community put the pandemic in the rear-view mirror, at least to a degree.

“I told President (Brian) Lenzmeier immediately, ‘I’m in!’” says Haynes, a 2010 BVU graduate who studied entrepreneurship and Spanish. “What a precious time to be sitting with your classmates, many of them to become lifelong friends, as well as the closest members of your family. It is such a culminating event, maybe more so this year than in any other in our time.”


The BVU Class of 2021 will celebrate Commencement at 1:15 p.m. on Saturday, May 8. BVU’s Class of 2020 and 2021 master’s degree conferees will celebrate Commencement at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 9. The BVU Class of 2020 undergraduates observe Commencement at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 9. All ceremonies are planned for Peterson Field within J. Leslie Rollins Stadium and will observe public health guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control.

“We are elated an alumna of Adrienne’s stature has agreed to share her message of success, promise, and more,” says Lenzmeier. “As a BVU student just beyond one decade ago, Adrienne got the most out of her experience, working and striving, ultimately changing BVU and our community for the better. She has continued in the ensuing years to leave a positive impression on faculty, staff, and BVU students that followed her through her active role in the BVU National Alumni Association Board of Directors and more.”

Education for Service wasn’t formally identified as BVU’s mission during Haynes’ undergraduate stay. In her case, however, the phrase defined her experience. Haynes participated and served as a leader in at least five organizations on campus, a true liberal arts experience that ranged from her serving as captain of the BVU dance team to President of the Voices of Praise gospel choir to serving as co-founder of BVU’s Women of Courage High School Mentoring Program.

“My fondest memories center around the people I had the privilege to learn from and work with,” she says. “I became very close with members of the Siebens School of Business faculty and Intercultural Programs (a precursor to today’s Center for Diversity & Inclusion). I remember working with members of Storm Lake United in various programs within the community, activities like Chills & Thrills, where BVU student organizations set up on Lake Avenue during Halloween to help connect with children in Storm Lake.”

Those experiences, she says, continue to inform the important work she does today, as an attorney and managing partner for SEED Law; as a businesswoman, consultant, and the founder of three active nonprofits. Her work has been recognized by business and community leaders in and around Kansas City and beyond, as evidenced by a multitude of recent honors, such as the Kanas City Business Journal’s “Women Who Mean Business Award,” the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Athena Young Professional Leadership Award, the Kanas City Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar” accolade, and more.

“I was in five student organizations when I was at BVU, and the experience totally relates to how I work now,” she says. “BVU prepared me for law school, and for the many ways I could continue to serve as my career advanced to its next chapters.”

Haynes says she is anxious to see campus again while meeting with members of both the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021, along with those who have earned their master’s degrees. Ultimately, the weekend shapes up as an historic occasion for the University.


(credit to Tim Gallagher)