CSM Celebrates 16th Winter Commencement

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636 Candidates Recognized; Youngest 14, Oldest 70

The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) recognized 636 candidates for degrees and certificates during its 16th Winter Commencement held Jan. 15 at the La Plata Campus.

CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried told family, friends and guests of graduates, “I think that every one of our graduates would say that they probably would not be where they are today without your support.”

Many of graduates attended full time and graduated in two years, but the vast majority are part-time students who take much longer to graduate, said Gottfried. Their dedication to complete their degrees while working or raising a family is an inspiration, he said.

“Many of our students will go on to become teachers, engineers, technicians, you name it and they will be it, and we are so very proud of them. Not only for the journey that brought them here, but also the perseverance and the vision they all have,” said Gottfried.

            The college awarded 656 associate degrees and 353 certificates: 42 percent of the students receiving awards are from Charles County, 31 percent are from St. Mary’s County and 23 percent are from Calvert County while 4 percent are from outside of the region. Nearly one-quarter of all degree candidates for graduation earned a 3.5 grade point average or higher.

Associate degrees were awarded predominantly in the fields of general studies, nursing and business administration, while general studies: transfer, and advanced and basic accounting topped the list as the most popular certificates. Of the graduates, more than 65 percent are female, the oldest graduate is 70 and the youngest graduate is 14.

Highlights of the ceremony included keynote remarks by retired Capt. Ed Nicholson with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing and student speaker Susan Newton, and the presentation of Distinguished Service Awards and a Faculty Excellence Award.

 

Oldest Graduate

Thomas Kettelle of Waldorf, at age 70, earned an associate degree in general studies and a certificate in general studies: transfer, at the same time that he was pursuing a bachelor’s degree from University of Maryland University College (UMUC) in social science with an emphasis on gerontology.

Prior to beginning his pursuit of a higher education degree, Kettelle served on active duty in the U.S. Army, in the Naval Reserves and the District of Columbia Air National Guard with all service totaling 30 years.

In the future, Kettelle plans to pursue associate and bachelor’s degrees in history, and a master’s degree in teaching before he reaches age 75.

           

Youngest Graduate

The youngest graduate is Chelsea Sampson, 14, of Waldorf, who in three semesters completed her associate degree in arts and sciences with honors. Sampson’s mother is a mathematics, physics and engineering professor at CSM and the two came to the campus together, with Chelsea Sampson spending time in the library working on homework while her mom taught.

As an elective, Chelsea Sampson took a sign language class and was hooked, “I just fell in love with [sign language interpretation].” She plans to continue this passion at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., where she will study sign language and theater.

 

Student Speaker Susan Newton

Presenting the student address was Susan M. Newton, of North Beach, who told her fellow graduates that she hopes they look back on this day and remember their feeling of pride. “For me, I will remember that no matter how many curve balls life threw at me, no matter how many times I wanted to give up and no matter how challenging things seemed, when I held onto my hopes and dreams, I achieved them,” Newton said.

            “I started working on my degree when I graduated from high school. I expected my life to progress like chapters in a book. I would complete one chapter—college—and move to the next. But it didn’t work out like that. For 20 years, I started and stopped college with every twist and turn in my life: marriage, raising children, divorce, part-time work and then full-time work. I wanted to close the chapter on college many times, but I had a mentor at CSM and a boss who wouldn’t let me give up. I also had a math teacher who wouldn’t let me fail.” Newton received her degree in early education.

 

Keynote Speaker Retired Navy Capt. Ed Nicholson

Commencement keynote speaker retired Navy Capt. Ed Nicholson, founder and president of the national nonprofit Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) told graduates and guests about his pursuit of what he calls the three ‘Ps: potential, passion and purpose. It was during a stay at Walter Reed Army Medical Center more than 10 years ago that the three Ps came together for him and he matched his love of the outdoors and fly fishing with helping wounded veterans and recovering active duty service members.  

“Realizing your potential is not a static thing. You can’t box it up and forget it. From a lifetime of experience I’ve learned that potential evolves, it changes and morphs into something entirely different than what you may have planned for yourself initially. That is a good thing because if potential didn’t evolve you wouldn’t be ready for the next opportunity to reshape your future,” said Nicholson, who explained that in college he was preparing to be a music director until realizing that his true calling and realization of potential would be as a career naval officer.

            For more on Nicholson and PHWFF, visit http://www.csmd.edu/news/archive/2014/fca8c739ac0e203f6f00ad62128aaa555800a478.html.

           

Trustees’ Distinguished Service Awards

            The Board of Trustees recognized Linda Lay of La Plata and former Maryland Del. John F. Wood Jr. of Mechanicsville for their exemplary and extended service to the college.

            Lay moved to Southern Maryland in 1978 and across the road from the La Plata Campus in 1984. As an adult, she earned an associate degree in engineering from CSM, transferred to the University of Maryland where she earned a bachelor’s degree and began working for the federal government. Since her retirement, Lay has made a routine of a morning walk on campus, picking up litter along the way. “I appreciate CSM. Picking up trash on the campus gives purpose to my walk,” she said.

            “Linda is a great example to her community and she is a wonderful CSM neighbor,” said CSM Trustee Chair Mike Middleton.  

            Wood has spent his entire life in Southern Maryland and 28 years of it in dedicated public service. His efforts in and out of the legislature have made him well respected in the local community and throughout the state. “Wood is a strong supporter for helping people, families and small businesses, and he excels at working collaboratively with people to get the job done,” Middleton said. “He has always been a strong advocate for education and the College of Southern Maryland.”

           

Faculty Excellence Award Honoring Adjunct Faculty

            The annual Faculty Excellence Award Honoring Adjunct Faculty was presented to engineering instructor John Warren. With more than 40 years of experience outside the academic environment, Warren provides students with a heavy dose of reality when it comes to engineering, physics and mathematics. “I ask that they take what they’ve learned in class and solve ‘real world’ problems,” said Warren.  “My emphasis is to develop students that I, as a Navy hiring manager, would actually want to hire.”

           

Nursing Recognition

The 11th winter class of 44 nursing students participated in a recognition ceremony earlier in the day. Health Sciences Chair Dr. Laura Polk presented an Academic Achievement in Nursing Award to Lindsay Truong, of Lexington Park, who graduated with high honors. Emily Lecours, of Port Tobacco, received the Achievement in Nursing Award which is given to a student who has demonstrated advanced clinical competence, service and dedication to the community, leadership within and outside of the classroom, and academic excellence.

 

Winter Commencement Candidates for Graduation

The following students were recognized as candidates for associate’s degrees or certificates at the commencement ceremony: (See attached listing)

For photos from commencement, visit http://csmphoto.zenfolio.com/15jangrad. For photos from Nursing Recognition, visit http://csmphoto.zenfolio.com/15jannurrec.

For information about the college, call 301-934-7765 or 301-870-2309, 240-725-5499 or 443-550-6199, Ext. 7765 or visit www.csmd.edu.

 

CAPTIONS

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CSM’s 16th Winter Commencement processional was led by Senior Coordinator, Transfer Services and Articulation James Spence, right, CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried and Trustee Chair Mike Middleton. The caps, gowns and hoods worn at college and university functions date to the Middle Ages when monks and students wore them to keep warm in the damp and drafty 12th-century castles and halls of learning.

 

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The college awarded 656 associate degrees and 353 certificates: 42 percent of the students receiving awards are from Charles County, 31 percent are from St. Mary’s County and 23 percent are from Calvert County while 4 percent are from outside of the region. Nearly one-quarter of all degree candidates for graduation earned a 3.5 grade point average or higher. Associate degrees were awarded predominantly in the fields of general studies, nursing and business administration, while general studies: transfer, and advanced and basic accounting topped the list as the most popular certificates. Of the graduates, more than 65 percent are female, the oldest graduate is 70 and the youngest graduate is 14.

 

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Giving the student address was CSM Winter 2015 graduate Susan M. Newton, of North Beach, who told her fellow graduates that she hopes they look back on this day and remember the feeling of pride in their accomplishment.

 

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Commencement keynote speaker retired Navy Capt. Ed Nicholson, founder and president of the national nonprofit Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) told graduates and guests about his pursuit of what he calls the three ‘P’s: potential, passion and purpose. It was during a stay at Walter Reed Army Medical Center more than 10 years ago, that the three ‘P’s came together for him and he matched his love of the outdoors and fly fishing with helping wounded veterans and recovering active duty service members. 

 

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The annual Faculty Excellence Award Honoring Adjunct Faculty was presented to engineering instructor John Warren, left, by CSM Faculty Senate President Michael R. Green. With more than 40 years of experience outside the academic environment, Warren provides students with a heavy dose of reality when it comes to engineering, physics and mathematics. “I ask that they take what they’ve learned in class and solve ‘real world’ problems,” said Warren.  “My emphasis is to develop students that I, as a Navy hiring manager, would actually want to hire.”

 

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Donna Addison, of Waldorf, shows her emotion after earning an associate degree in Criminal Justice and Human Services with honors. Her college journey began at age 52 when she decided to follow her passion for helping at-risk youth. She left a good-paying job with benefits to become a full-time student.

 

 

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Youngest Graduate Chelsea Sampson, 14, left was inspired to pursue a degree in Interpretive Sign Language from Gallaudet College in Washington, D.C. after completing CSM Instructor Heather Zeolla’s sign language course.

 

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Students receiving associate degrees in nursing during the 16th Winter Commencement at the College of Southern Maryland Jan. 15 from Charles County included, front from left, Tara Arnold, Dana Bassford, Georgia Brinkley, Rebecca Hammett, Ryan Hess and Jennifer King; and second row from left, Emily Lecours, Genia McKelvin, Dinell Mitchell, Jennifer Mott, Jessica Weaver and Christine Youmans.

 

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Students receiving associate degrees in nursing during the 16th Winter Commencement at the College of Southern Maryland Jan. 15 from St. Mary’s County included, front from left, Laura North, Katie Buck, Denise Collins, Tammy Daye, Pamela Douglas, Shannon Farrell, Paula Goldsborough and Heather Hall; and second row from left, Alexandra Knott, Caitlin Maloney, Lindsey Millen, Jenna Mozingo, Jocelyn Peissner, Natasha Terry, Lindsay Truong, Amber Verbic and Kylee Woode.

 

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