The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) recognized 639 candidates for degrees and certificates during its 18th Winter Commencement held Jan. 19 at the La Plata Campus.
CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried told family, friends and guests of graduates, “All of our students have stories, and all of them offer inspiration.” He noted that the evening's graduates included examples of extraordinary perseverance and examples of overcoming challenges and the need to juggle family and/or work responsibilities, but he said that no goal is achieved without some struggle.
The college awarded 668 associate degrees and 320 certificates. Of the students receiving awards, 40 percent are from Charles County, 31 percent are from St. Mary's County, 21 percent are from Calvert County and 8 percent are from outside the region. Close to one-fifth 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, arts and sciences and business administration, while general studies: transfer, accounting and emergency medical service-paramedic topped the list as the most popular certificates. Of the graduates, 60 percent are female. The oldest graduate is 72. The youngest is 19.
Highlights of the ceremony included keynote remarks by Emmy Award-winning television journalist Roz Plater and student speaker Andrew Hackney and the presentation of the title of Trustee Emeritus, Distinguished Service Awards and a Faculty Excellence Award.
Gottfried described several examples of students' perseverance, including the story of graduate Morgan Lake of Bowie, who made headline news in 2013 when a truck pushed her car off the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and she managed to survive. To recover, Lake had to take two years off from her studies at CSM. But she came back and finished, finally earning an associate degree in communication. “She clearly is an inspiration to all of us,” Gottfried said.
Gottfried also noted that some of the graduates were already enjoying the success earned by their CSM degree, mentioning that one graduate wasn't attending the ceremony because he had already begun a new job and was in Italy for a month of all-expenses-paid training.
Thomas Kettelle, 72, of Lexington Park earned an associate degree in arts and sciences with an AA emphasis, an associate degree in arts and sciences with an arts and humanities emphasis and an associate degree in arts and sciences in history.
“I've enjoyed CSM,” Kettelle said. Taking courses “keeps my mind sharp.”
Kettelle's business card identifies him as “professional student.” He started college seven years ago, when he was 65. In 2009, Kettelle earned an associate degree in general studies from CSM and a bachelor's degree in social science from University of Maryland University College (UMUC) in 2014. He has continued taking courses from UMUC concurrently with his CSM coursework and is aiming to earn a bachelor's degree from UMUC in history by the end of 2020. After that? He's thinking maybe a master's in education.
“The beauty of going to college for me is keeping involved,” he said. Kettelle particularly appreciates the opportunity to take courses online, he said, because he has some mobility issues after four back operations and a hip replacement.
Before his career as a professional student, Kettelle worked for the U.S. Navy Department for more than 30 years and served active duty in the U.S. Army, in the Naval Reserves and the District of Columbia Air National Guard. He is a former marathoner and triathlete and is the father of one son and one grandson.
While there are two dozen Winter Commencement graduates who are 19, Jake DeLozier of Budds Creek is the youngest, having only celebrated his 19th birthday in November. DeLozier earned an associate degree in business administration at CSM. Starting this spring semester, he will continue his studies at Towson University, where he plans to earn a bachelor's degree in business, with a concentration in finance.
One of the most helpful experiences he had during his time at CSM, he said, was a semester working as a student assistant at the college, which gave him real-world work experience and expanded his network of contacts. “The job taught me to speak to people more professionally,” he said.
Keynote Speaker, Award-winning Journalist Roz Plater
The evening's keynote speaker was Emmy Award-winning television journalist Roz Plater. She spoke about the ups and downs of her 22-year career that included work in two of the country's top-10 markets, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. However, she noted that her success had periods that seemed like insurmountable setbacks. “My career almost didn't happen,” Plater said. “And I had to jumpstart it again and again and again.”
She encouraged the students to be persistent in chasing their dreams and not let challenges keep them from their goal. “Sometimes you fall down. Sometimes you get knocked down. It doesn't matter how you got down there. It matters that you fight to get back up,” she said.
For more on Plater, visit bit.ly/CSMDgradspeaker.
Student speaker Andrew Hackney, 21, of Mechanicsville earned an associate degree in general studies with honors and a certificate of general studies: transfer with honors. And he did it all debt-free.
At the Jan. 19 ceremony, Hackney, who was solely responsible for paying for his college education, spoke about his resolve to avoid debt and encouraged his fellow graduates planning to continue their education to pursue scholarship assistance. Scholarships “lifted a huge burden” off his shoulders, he said, and allowed him to focus on his studies.
He encourages other students to take advantage of the multiple scholarship opportunities that are available. “They're all out there,” he said. “You just need to take the time to apply for them.”
Trustee Emeritus Status Awarded
During the ceremony, former trustee James K. Raley Jr. was awarded emeritus status. He served two full terms in his position as trustee of the college, from 2000 to 2010, and as board chair from 2007 to 2010. Raley was noted for his significant contributions serving on the hiring committee for current President Gottfried and his service on the St. Mary's County Advisory Council and many other endeavors.
Raley was appointed a trustee by then-Maryland Governor Parris Glendening. He was the first representative from outside Charles County to be selected from among the board's trustees for the board's top leadership position in 2007.
Trustees' Distinguished Service Awards
CSM's Trustees Distinguished Service Award was bestowed on three champions of the college during the commencement ceremony, Michael and Liz Chiaramonte and Marianne Harms. “This award is given to our partners and supporters of the college in recognition of their impact on our students and our community,” said Trustee Chair Dorothea Smith.
The Chiaramontes, including Michael's late father, Dr. Francis P. Chiaramonte, donated $1 million to the CSM Foundation, which was the largest cash gift during the college's 50th anniversary campaign. Their donation supported more than 140 scholarships and STEM and health science initiatives at the college. Michael Chiaramonte was also instrumental in creating the new Entrepreneur and Innovation Institute and helped with $280,000 in funding.
Harms announced a $1 million gift this past fall, the John E. and Marianne Harms Endowed Scholarship Fund, in memory of her late husband. Her gift is the largest combined gift given to the college's current $10-million “Make an Impact Campaign,” which will culminate in 2018 with CSM's 60th anniversary.
Annual Faculty Excellence Award Honoring Adjunct Faculty
The Annual Faculty Excellence Award Honoring Adjunct Faculty was awarded to Denise Snee from the Languages and Literature Division. In the presentation of the award, Professor Mike Green described Snee as a teacher who excels at engaging students and addressing individual needs. Green read from a reference about Snee provided by a colleague.
“Ms. Snee is incredibly gifted and dedicated to the students,” he read. “She knows them by name after the first class. She walks among them, sits down with them, engages in their lives, and pulls them aside, all to interject herself as an active teacher to lift the students. Her classes are engaged, alert, ready, and fun … She is a star.”
Nursing Recognition Ceremony
During the nursing recognition ceremony held earlier in the day to honor the program's 49 newest graduates, Elisa Swift of Waldorf was recognized with the CSM Health Sciences Division Academic Achievement in Nursing Award, given to the graduate with the highest grade point average in the nursing class. Swift said she plans to apply for admission to the University of Maryland to continue her education by pursuing a bachelor's degree in nursing. Eventually, she plans to earn a master's degree also. She is interested in pediatric nursing.
Allen Tengco of Waldorf was recognized with the CSM Health Sciences Division Achievement in Nursing Award, presented to the graduate who demonstrates academic achievement, clinical competence, community service and leadership potential. One of only four men in the nursing program, Tengco plans to continue his nursing education, work full time as a registered nurse and eventually become a nurse practitioner.
Members of this class of nursing students selected Kara Leonard, 35, of Lexington Park as the student speaker at the nursing recognition ceremony. The mother of three children, ages 11, 9 and 7, Leonard is married to a retired U.S. Marine, and has already had success in two previous careers, first as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., and later as a personal trainer. About two years ago, Leonard sensed that it was time for a change in her life, she said. She didn't feel fulfilled in her work. She became convinced that nursing was the best new direction for her. She speaks passionately about the experience of training for this new career and about the camaraderie that nursing students build during that training.
During her remarks, Leonard spoke of the concept of time in our lives and the choices we make in using our time. “Our courageous answer [to how we will use our time] is to use our time serving others,” she said. “We are warriors for the sick, the scared, those who can't fight for themselves … Let us now have the courage to put our passion to work.”
Commencement coverage will be available at the online newsroom, news.csmd.edu. For photos from commencement and the Nursing Recognition Ceremony, visit http://csmphoto.zenfolio.com/17jangrad.
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.
N.B. For these photos and extended captions, see http://csmphoto.zenfolio.com/jan2017captions.
Calvert County graduates from the College of Southern Maryland nursing program include, front row, from left, Emily Bailey, Emily Green, Lauren Hall, Brooklyn King, Kiley King, Ashley Scaggs and, back row, Elizabeth Scheidegger, Meagan Smith, Jessica Tyrell, Brandi Wightman and Taylor Hamby.
Charles County graduates from the College of Southern Maryland nursing program include, front row, from left, Sarah Adeyanju, Chelsea Conger, Courtney Delph, Milton GalvanLam, Katherine Godwin, Dawn Jenkins, Christina Locker, Sarah Persinger, Erica Royal and, back row, Elisa Swift, Allen Tengco, Stephani Troese, Kaitlin Walls, Laura Waselewski, Sarah Anne Wetmore, Matthew Allshouse, Rebecca McPherson, Erica Jones and Kaitlin Bennett.
St. Mary's County graduates from the College of Southern Maryland nursing program include, front row, from left, Emily Davis, Victoria Fitzgerald, Kevin Grisez, Kara Leonard, Sara Patton, Lucia Raley, Kimberly Raley and, back row, Lauren Robinson, Yhamira Santiago, Hannah Schneider, Riley Stanton, Brittany Thomas, Karly Thompson, Ray Ann Tiede and Haley Page.
The tradition of elaborately decorated caps set the nursing graduates apart at graduation. There were 49 students who earned an associate degree in nursing at the College of Southern Maryland's 18th Winter Commencement ceremony held Jan. 19 at the La Plata Campus. In addition to the larger ceremony in the evening, the nursing students marked their graduation at the Nursing Recognition Ceremony earlier in the day, where each student was pinned by a member of the CSM nursing faculty.
One of the 49 nursing graduates, Sarah Adeyanju of Waldorf, stands with her mother, Wmi Adeyanju of Waldorf, who had herself graduated from the CSM nursing program eight years earlier. Sarah Adeyanju was pinned with her mother's pin during the ceremony. Wmi Adeyanju now has her master's degree and works with Kaiser Permanente.
Peggy Crim of Lexington Park stands proudly with her granddaughter, nursing gradua