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Shepherd University awards 647 degrees

May 23, 2004|By PEPPER BALLARD

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.VA.

Presented like an end-of-summer essay he called "What I've Learned Since I Left College," Shepherd University commencement keynote speaker Ray Johnston told the college's 647 graduates on Saturday to "choose a spouse who is your best friend" and "find a job that you would do for free."

"Pursuing what you want is like chasing a mirage on the highway," Johnston, president of Potomac Valley Properties Inc., told the black-robed graduates and more than 3,000 spectators gathered in the campus's Butcher Athletic Center Saturday afternoon for the school's 131st commencement.

University President David L. Dunlop told graduates that when the school was established in 1872, 145 students attended. The school now has more than 5,000 students.

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Master's degree candidates also received degrees Saturday, the first time graduate degrees have been awarded from the school, which recently changed its name to Shepherd University.

Gretchen Lloyd, an usher for the ceremony, said 463 people walked across the stage Saturday.

Johnston told graduates to travel, learn how to golf, fish or scuba dive, and most importantly, he told them, give back to the community.

"People who work hard are a lot luckier and accomplish a lot more," he said.

Todd Asplen said he's spent the past six years working hard in college. The 23-year-old said he was more than ready to receive his degree Saturday.

"It's time to go. It's time to start a new life," said Asplen, 23, of Westminster, Md.

He graduated Saturday with a bachelor's degree in secondary education and plans to teach in Montgomery County, Md.

Holly Ruth, 25, of Inwood, W.Va., was on a similar college track as Asplen. She took more than six years to graduate with a bachelor's degree in computer science and said she's now ready to start looking for a job. Her favorite college memory, she said: "Graduating."

Friends are what Robin Hoelen said she'll cherish the most about her college experience.

"Certainly not the classes," she said with a laugh.

Hoelen, 23, of Winchester, Va., received a bachelor's degree Saturday in consumer sciences and doesn't know what she'll do next.

Tiffany Lawrence, co-president of the class of 2004, told her class that its members don't have to worry about their futures.

"We've worked hard to celebrate our similarities despite our differences," she said.

Keith Worrell, the class' other co-president, told his class of a message his friend always carries with him: "Changing the world one person at a time."

"We believe all of us are ready to move on today and move away from Shepherd," he said. "Go forward to change the world one person at a time."

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