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FSU's satellite campuses graduate 74

Hundreds watch graduates cross stage

Hundreds watch graduates cross stage

May 25, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

For Michelle Talbert-Smith, 35, and her brother, Dennis Talbert, 31, their graduation ceremony Monday night was all in the family.

Both graduated Monday from the Frostburg State University Hagerstown Center with master's of education degrees. Both received 4.0 grade point averages.

Both live in Boonsboro, both are teachers for Washington County Public Schools, and they are the first in their family to graduate with bachelor's and master's degrees.

"It was a proud moment being there, knowing we were both getting our master's degrees," Talbert-Smith said after the ceremony at The Maryland Theatre.

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They were among 74 master's and bachelor's candidates who crossed the stage Monday night, receiving degrees from FSU's Hagerstown and Frederick, Md., education campuses.

About 300 friends and family members filled seats at the theater, and hooted and hollered as the graduates' names were called one by one.

Many of the students from the two satellite campuses are "nontraditional" students, FSU Center interim Director Lewis Muth said Monday. The students juggled jobs, children and school to finish, sometimes years after making their first career choices, he said.

Talbert's wife, Christine Talbert, and two children were waiting for him after the graduation.

"We're proud of him and we're happy that he's completed it," Christine Talbert, 33, said.

Carol Hinchley, 55, traveled from Frederick County to see her friend Jennifer Buzelle graduate. Hinchley said she and Buzelle met in class.

Asked what brought her to the ceremony, Hinchley said, "Are you kidding? ... The hard work she's done to get here. It's unbelievable."

Buzelle, 23, of Knoxville, said she worked full time while finishing work on her bachelor's degree in business administration at the school's Frederick campus.

Asked if she was excited to graduate, Buzelle said, "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

Buzelle credited friendships like those with Hinchley for getting her through, and said she was not nervous about what would happen next.

"I'm confident for the future," Buzelle said. "I wanted to be in the ceremony because it's like closure. It's all gonna sink in after today."

Kevin Jackson, 41, of Greencastle, Pa., is a teacher at North Hagerstown High School. He said his graduation Monday was his preparation to become an assistant principal there next year.

Jackson said he couldn't have done it without family and friends.

"This is ... a culmination of two years. The family made a decision to do this," Jackson said. "A lot of people encouraged this."

After symbolizing their accomplishment by tossing their tassels from the right to the left, the graduates strolled out of the building into the glare of flashbulbs and beaming family members.

Even though the atmosphere was festive, the brother-sister graduates from Boonsboro did not have major plans to party, Talbert said.

"Yeah, right, if you call changing diapers" a party, Talbert said.

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