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HBC graduates nearly 300

April 22, 2002|BY SARAH MULLIN

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

An overflow crowd watched the largest and most diverse class in the history of Hagerstown Business College graduate Friday night during the school's 64th commencement.

Audience members stood along the walls and grouped around the entrance doors at North Hagerstown High School's auditorium. They yelled and applauded college President Christopher Motz's announcement that next year there will be two commencements, one in the winter and one in the spring.

"Growth is a wonderful thing," he said.

Michael Norris, 25, of Hagerstown, was among the approximately 290 students graduating.

"I am the second out of my entire family (to go to college). That's pretty amazing because I have a big family," he said.

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Members of Norris' family were on hand. Among them were his father, Moses, a sergeant in the Maryland Army National Guard. The family did not know if he would make it home in time for the graduation because he was stationed in Bosnia.

He returned only two weeks ago.

Motz said this year's graduating class has the largest number of black students to graduate in a year - about 20. He said the female-male graduate ratio is now 60-40.

"I am very proud of the fact we are becoming more diverse in our student population. There are a lot of milestones tonight," he said.

The college also has international students.

Speranta Ciobanita, 30, originally from Romania and now living in Boonsboro, arrived in the states in 1998 after 20 years of separation from her mother because of the political turmoil in her country.

"My mother said, 'You need an education in this country so you'd better go to college,' " she said. "She's very proud of me."

Ciobanita plans to further her education and may attend the University of Maryland.

The guest speaker was 27-year-old graduating student Crystal Lanehart of Needmore, Pa. Instead of offering words of inspiration, she sang "Bring On the Rain," "Born to Fly" and "I Hope You Dance."

"A lot of people face different adversities so I chose songs of inspiration," she said.

Student speakers were Katie Griggs, 21, of Chambersburg, Pa., and Ali Robinson, 25, of Hagerstown. Griggs works at Greencastle Family Practice, and Robinson is an information technician at Whitetail Resort in Mercersburg, Pa.

"My advice to the class of 2002 is carpe diem - 'seize the day' - be a geek and have passion for something," Robinson said. "Life is not what you want it to be; it is what you make it."

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