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Shippensburg commencement packs stadium

May 09, 2004|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

SHIPPENSBURG, PA. - Parents and grandparents waved, cheered and shot video as the long line of 1,205 students marched into Seth Grove Stadium Saturday morning.

Five members of the class of 1954 led the procession, while the Shippensburg Community Band played "Pomp and Circumstance" and an airplane flew overhead trailing a congratulatory banner.

Shippensburg University's commencement services attracted an overflow crowd to the stadium on a bright, cool day. Those who could not obtain seating in the bleachers and grandstand sat on blankets on the grass outside the stadium, adding to the festive mood with cheers and honking horns.

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"Graduation day is a uniquely sweet day in the human calendar," commencement speaker Judge Carol McGinley said. "We gather to celebrate the mind and heart."

But graduation, she said, is not inoculation.

"A diploma doesn't prevent unemployment, irrational bosses or an unhappy marriage," McGinley said.

As chairman of the Juvenile Court Judges' Commission, McGinley, of Lehigh County, is a leader in Pennsylvania's juvenile justice efforts. The commission is composed of active judges from around the state, and advises the governor on juvenile justice matters.

Nationwide, only 50 percent of college graduates have a job lined up at graduation, McGinley said. After a student leaves school, "there won't be any friends at the ready to guide or commiserate. You're graduating in the age group with the greatest number of stressors. But the joy is in the knowledge. You have an awareness, and you will negotiate the next few years with grace and confidence."

McGinley encouraged the graduates to decide who they will be.

"You will earn a living and a character," she said. "You'll collect facets of your reputation. This is your independence day. Define yourself, your family, your friends, and the educational system will no longer define you."

April Bailey of Chambersburg, Pa., graduated with honors with a master's degree in business administration. Bailey, 25, who also did her undergraduate work at Shippensburg, said that "the culture and the ratio of faculty to students is just wonderful. The faculty is from all over; they all have their doctorates. I love it there and I wouldn't want to leave."

Bailey would like to get into pharmaceutical sales or accept a part-time faculty position available at the university.

"It's been that great of an experience," she said.

While she was working on her master's, she was a graduate assistant, helping professors with the 300 undergraduate business students.

Erika Bingaman, 23, of Greencastle, Pa., graduated with a degree in psychology and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army on the same day. She'll be stationed at Fort Huachuca in Arizona for five months, then will attend graduate school in Philadelphia, she said. She plans to become a clinical psychologist.

"I had a lot of great professors," she said. "They were always willing to help. The psychology program was well-rounded." She added that her four years at Shippensburg were "a great experience."

Biology major Stacey Clugston of Chambersburg said she received an extensive education at Shippensburg. She plans to begin work on her master's degree in biomedical science in August at Hood College in Frederick, Md.

The class of 2004 consisted of 1,043 undergraduate students and 162 graduate students.

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