For the Cumberland Times-News
MCHENRY — The Garrett College community, families and friends gathered May 19 to celebrate the college’s 40th commencement and to honor the 135 graduates of the class of 2012.
Led by Faculty Marshal Professor Ben Sincell, the honored guests, faculty, staff and graduates, all in full academic regalia, processed into the Garrett College Gymnasium as the traditional Pomp and Circumstance was played by accompanist Michael Broderick.
The honored guests included Sen. George Edwards, Delegate Wendell Beitzel, Garrett County Commissioners Gregan Crawford and Robert Gatto, Assistant Superintendent of Garrett County Schools Barbara Baker, Garrett College Board of Trustees Chair Linda Sherbin and Vice Chair Albert Coviello and commencement speaker Bill Meagher.
Elizabeth Grant, director of Liberal Arts and Justice Studies, led an invocation and Garrett College President Richard L. MacLennan stepped to the podium to welcome all those in attendance and to address the graduates. He applauded them for their efforts and accomplishment noting that the average GPA in the class was 3.05. He encouraged the students to recognize all those who helped them along the way including family, friends, faculty, and staff. “This commencement ceremony brings closure to an important phase in each of your lives. And we know how hard you’ve worked hard to get here. We also know you didn’t do it alone. This is also a day of recognition for those people who encouraged and supported you throughout your tenure at Garrett College,” MacLennan said.
Following his address to the students, MacLennan introduced the commencement speaker Bill Meagher, local entrepreneur and community leader. In his opening comments, Meagher acknowledged that for many graduates it could be a time of fear, uncertainty, or doubt. “These feelings are some of the biggest enemies of a successful life,” he said.
Meagher encouraged the students to set goals. “We all need dreams — not just small ones but big dreams that can excite you.” These dreams, he said, can then be pursued as goals with objectives to be reached along a timeline. “Very few people actively dream and set goals. Those who do achieve more,” he said. Meagher exhorted the graduates to: “Dream, set goals, and take action.”
Next on the agenda was presentation of awards. MacLennan began with an explanation of the Award of Outstanding Contributions to Garrett College. Selected by the college board of trustees from among nominees from the community, this award is given to individuals or organizations that have significantly and positively impacted Garrett’s mission and educational goals. “This year the Board has selected both an internal and external recipient of the Board Award for Outstanding Contributions to Garrett College. We would first like to recognize Senator George Edwards.” Edwards, he said, was selected for his continued support and devotion to excellence in the service of Garrett College and the people of Garrett County.
The second Award for Outstanding Contributions to Garrett College went to Dana Shimrock, director of the library for her 22 years of service, dedication, and commitment to the college, the students, and mission of Garrett College.
Shimrock, wiping tears from her eyes, addressed the gathering. “This is an emotional day for me. I am retiring next month. There was nothing that I did while I was here that I did alone. We are truly a community college – we work together to accomplish our goals,” she said.
Dr. George Brelsford, Dean of Student Life, introduced the student speaker for the ceremony, Ryan Shreve. A life-long resident of Garrett County and a graduate of Southern High School, Shreve has majored in Liberal Arts and Computer and Information Technology. He plans to attend West Virginia University to study electrical engineering, followed by earning a law degree, and ultimately working as a patent attorney.
Shreve spoke about his experiences as a GC student. “Garrett College has taught me that persistence and determination is the key to success. If the academic workload is tough, that just means that you will be that much more educated when you finally overcome it. I learned that you will never get anywhere in life if you give up when the work is hard and also that it never pays off to go swimming with your friends at the lake the night before a final rather than studying,” he added. Shreve also spoke about the importance of his extracurricular activities. “My time as the Treasurer of the Student Government Association here at Garrett College has taught me that if you try your hardest and devote your time to worthwhile events, things will always work out in your favor. I also learned that hard work can be fun, especially when there are friends to support your dedication.” “I personally know that every one of us has the potential to achieve greatness with our lives. And quite frankly, I don’t know what Garrett College is going to do without us guys,” he added with a smile.
Noting that this is only the beginning for the class of 2012, Shreve said he and his classmates now have the opportunity to do whatever they want and become whoever they want to be. “Jimmy Dean once said – ‘I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.’ While there will ALWAYS be obstacles in our way, we now possess the knowledge and determination to push these obstacles aside and continue on our road to greatness,” he said.
Following Shreve’s address James Allen, Interim Dean of Instruction, announced the names of students who earned academic recognitions at Garrett College. Following is the list of awards and the names of the students receiving them:
Bucknell University Scholars Full Scholarship: Andrew Mast and Cherra Mathis Female Scholar Athlete Award: Katelyn J. Welch Male Scholar Athlete: Andrew David Umbel All-USA Community Colleges Academic Team and ALL-State Academic Team: Cherra Mathis and Amber Stephens
Outstanding Transfer Student: Jonathan Corbin Outstanding Career Advancement Student: Suzannah Zeigler
Inspiration and Excellence Award. Cherra Mathis Leadership and Excellence Award: Cherra Mathis
Highest Grade Point Average: Jonathan Corbin
Allen then presented the candidates for degrees which were conferred by Dr. MacLennan and Board Chair Linda Sherbin. Hat tassels were ceremoniously moved from right to left, a benediction read by Elizabeth Grant, and the 2012 Garrett College Graduation Ceremony concluded with Broderick playing Triumphal March for the recessional.