Wilson holds 136th commencement

May 22, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - "Hats off to the graduates" was jokingly repeated several times at the 136th annual Wilson College Commencement as gusts of wind whipped the caps off students, staff and speakers alike Sunday afternoon.

The more than 110 graduates remained the focus of the ceremony at the college, where one woman said she was treated like a person and not a number.

"I wanted that personal attention," Ana T. Muoz said. "It's been a fantastic experience. I have walked around campus, and staff I haven't even interacted with say 'hi' to me and mention my name."

Muoz, who commuted an hour and a half from her Hanover, Pa., home, spoke on behalf of the College for Continuing Education, which is open to students older than 24.


"Wilson has made this day possible for me. I have worked to go to college before, paying my own way. I have had jobs in which I struggled to make enough money to pay bills. I despaired on ever reaching my life goals. The faculty and staff at Wilson have helped me in ways other colleges did not," said Muoz, a native of Puerto Rico who received a bachelor's degree in religion and philosophy.

She commented that continuing education students often have full-time employment and family obligations in addition to their studies.

"We will not go forth from Wilson for we already spend most of our time beyond campus walls. What we will do is carry out into the world what Wilson has helped us aspire to - personal responsibility, respect for the earth and its sustainability, pride in who we are, a love of learning and a newfound belief in what we can achieve," Muoz said.

Gwen Ifill, a veteran newswoman who is a senior correspondent on "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," provided the graduates with what she has identified as five keys to living a good life. Those were to know you are called to a mission, know you have limitless choices, resolve to fix flawed relationships, resolve to cross a barrier and save the world.

"Your learning doesn't end today. It just begins," she said.

Tiffany Clara Beck, senior class president, took the thoughts of graduates to childhood with several references to "Oh, the Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss.

The book identifies a new phase in the reader's life, while then acknowledging the fears that come with new endeavors.

"I want to challenge the Class of 2006 to be influential members of society," Beck said.

She commented that life lessons have been developed through relationships with roommates, suitemates, teammates, late-night study partners and "the best friends we have made while here at Wilson."

"The background from our parents and professors, the advice we have gained and the relationships we have made have built our character," Beck said. "We have grown as individuals and been given the tools to succeed."

On behalf of the graduating class, Beck gave the signal to fly a large American flag selected as the class gift to the college.

The Ann Meikle Eriksson Prize was awarded to Sarah Massey. It is presented to the students with the highest grade-point average in the graduating class.

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