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HCC graduates 325

May 18, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Michael Wolfensberger told fellow graduates of Hagerstown Community College on Saturday that he used to be ashamed of growing up in a mobile home park in Funkstown.

Just a few years ago, he was jobless and didn't have any goals for his future.

"I wasn't a very good son, and I wasn't a very good student," Wolfensberger said. "I never took high school seriously."

Two years ago, he said, he enrolled at HCC to make a new start.

Saturday, he was one of 325 students who graduated from HCC. The college awarded 339 degrees and certificates before a crowd of more than 2,000 people at the 56th commencement, held in the Athletic, Recreation and Community Center.

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Of the 325 graduates, 202 received degrees in the transfer program, designed for students planning to continue their education at a four-year college. Most of those planning to transfer concentrated their courses in general studies and business administration, according to a written statement.

Speaking at Saturday's commencement, Wolfensberger said it was in college that he realized it wasn't where he was raised or how much money he had growing up that mattered.

"Unfortunately, it took me 22 years to realize ... my parents gave me honesty, integrity and responsibility," he said.

Wolfensberger, vice president of Phi Theta Kappa, received an associate degree in history with a 4.0 grade point average.

On the Dean's List every semester at HCC, Wolfensberger plans to transfer to the University of Pennsylvania and then attend law school.

"I guess I wanted to prove that I was capable of doing it and to make up for past failures," he said.

HCC President Guy Altieri recognized three students - Laurel Ann Kirkpatrick, Matthew Aaron Seifarth and Samuel J. Battista Jr. - for overcoming hardships and excelling in school. He said the graduates represented kindness, leadership and courage.

Altieri, presiding over his first commencement as HCC president, reminded the graduates to keep in touch with their parents as they venture out on their own.

"Call home to say 'I love you,' and yes, even call home to ask for money," Altieri said. "But ... call home."

Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook congratulated the graduates on behalf of the County Commissioners and told them to be conscious of their attitudes and how they react to what happens in their lives.

Michael Harsh, chairman of the faculty assembly, encouraged the graduates to live their lives with honor and courage like those in the armed services, law enforcement and firefighting.

"Learn to sail against the wind, because while ships are safe in their harbors, that's not what ships are for," Harsh said.

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