Shepherd sends 542 into world

May 21, 2006|by DON AINES

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.VA. - More than 500 of what commencement speaker Kay Huffman Goodwin called "West Virginia's, the nation's and the world's best and brightest" received their university degrees during Saturday's commencement at Shepherd University.

"It's my third son graduating from here," said Elizabeth Keel of Charles Town, W.Va., as she watched the newly minted graduates parade across the stage at one end of the Butcher Center to get their diplomas. "Two of them when it was a college, and now one when it's a university."

Saturday, it was Christian Keel's turn, along with 541 other students. University President David L. Dunlop said the former Shepherd College had 21 graduates at its first commencement exercise, and there now are more than 4,000 students attending the university.

Elizabeth Adams of Frederick, Md., and Jessie Slonaker of Inwood, W.Va., both business majors, already are out in the real world.


"I'm a financial planner for a local financial advisory firm," Slonaker said.

"I'm a human resources coordinator for a medical billing company in Chambersburg (Pa.)," Adams said.

As he looked through the post-graduation crowd for his parents, sociology major Zachary Myers of Williamsport said he also is anxious to get to work.

"I'm actually in the fire-and-rescue field as well, pursuing a job in Prince George's County" in Maryland, Myers said.

"I worked full time and have gone to school full time for the last five years," said April Williams, an accounting and business major. Juggling work and classes was difficult, but "the accounting professors are the best," she said.

Business administration and economics major Caleb Baird of Winchester, Va., said he is ready to begin his career with an ironworks in Woodbridge, Va.

"He had to get out in four years. Anything after four years was on him," said his father, Bob Baird. "He did it. It worked," he said of the financial carrot and stick he offered his son.

"Start your plans for tomorrow and please consider remaining in West Virginia," said Goodwin, the state's secretary of Education and the Arts, a position she has held since 2001. Their talents will be needed to help build West Virginia's future, she said.

Goodwin also advised the graduates to turn their beliefs into actions and "get involved in the life of your community."

"Don't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands," Goodwin said. "Throw something back at life."

One of the outstanding alumnus awards presented Saturday went to T. Guy Reynolds, a retired teacher and pilot who graduated from Shepherd College 73 years ago.

Dunlop got a rise out of the audience when he noted that Reynolds had resumed flying in 2004 and celebrated his 93rd birthday with a parachute jump.

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