Mothers, fathers among Wilson College graduates

May 12, 2003|by DON AINES

Scattered among the 101 women and men who graduated Sunday from Wilson College were a number of boys and girls attired in scaled-down caps and gowns.

Maria Nicole Zvarik ascended the stage in Laird Hall to receive her degrees in sociology and dance accompanied by her 5-year-old daughter, Savannah, who spent most of her life living on campus.

"It's been extremely positive for her, I think," Zvarik said of having her daughter grow up on campus. A part of the college's Women with Children program, the Collegeville, Pa., woman said her daughter was exposed to many people and types of family situations living among the 27 families in the program.


Savannah also was exposed to the academic side of life on campus, sometimes attending classes with her mother.

"I'll miss the other mothers and my professors. They were like my family," she said. She plans to take a year "to gather myself" and then pursue a master's degree in fine arts in dance.

Most of the graduates are from the College For Women, but Wilson also has a College for Continuing Education. Robert Daniel Swank Jr. spoke for them during the college's 133rd commencement.

A philosophy and religion major, the Smithsburg man recalled how he went from being a breadwinner to a house husband and full-time student when he was laid off from Grove Worldwide in 2001.

"You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take," Swank told the graduates, quoting hockey great Wayne Gretzky. He hopes the shot he took by going back to college will result in a teaching job.

In addition to those receiving bachelor's degrees, 49 people received their teaching certification this year and another dozen people earned associate's degrees.

Swank said he plans to return to Wilson for his teaching certificate through the college's Teacher Inter Program.

Courtney L. Goodling of McAlisterville, Pa., left Wilson with a degree in business and economics and a career plan. She plans to work full time while studying radiology.

"That way, I can become a department head in a hospital," she said. Goodling said she will then pursue a master's degree in hospital management.

"The last time we were at this bridge was four years ago, but it wasn't as important as getting a job lined up," Janelle Fenlason, president of the Class of 2003 told the assembled graduates, families and friends.

"Be confident in yourself, in your education and your experiences," she said.

"So women, go out and change the world and never forget where you came from," Fenlason said.

"I have found women are the leaders in a community," said Mildred Robbins Leet, co-founder and chairman of Trickle Up Program Inc. and the recipient of an honorary doctorate of humane letters. Trickle Up started when she and her husband, Glen, now deceased, gave a total of $1,000 to 10 people to start businesses in the small Caribbean island of Dominica after it was devastated by a hurricane.

Since then, Trickle Up has provided seed money to more than 100,000 small entrepreneurs to start businesses in underdeveloped countries.

Leet said there is a place for women "not only at the dinner tables, but at the peace conference tables."

Trisha Brown, artistic director of the Trisha Brown Dance Co. and the recipient of an honorary doctorate of humanities, told the graduates there is a line "between what you know and what you don't know."

"Kick that line out of your way, but do your homework so you don't trip over it," she said. "Never stop learning. Knowledge is power."

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