Graduates make it to the top of the Mountain

June 02, 2007|By ERIN JULIUS

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INWOOD, W.VA. - Jill Caradori pursued her bachelor's degree intermittently for 28 years.

On Friday night, she finally walked across the stage with about 50 other graduates during Mountain State University-Martinsburg's graduation ceremony, and received her bachelor of science degree in organizational leadership as her family watched.

Taking time out to raise her children was a big part of the reason she took almost three decades to complete her degree, said Caradori, 46, of Martinsburg, W.Va.

She works as an office manager at a nursing home, and plans to earn her master's degree from Mountain State University, Caradori said.


Hundreds gathered to cheer for their loved ones at Musselman High School, where Mountain State's graduation ceremony took place.

Michael Grove, a 2003 Mountain State graduate, spoke to the graduating class on behalf of all alumni. He told the class of 2007 to revel in the "burst of pride" they felt upon receiving their diplomas.

Grove also implored the graduates not to rest on their laurels, but to act as leaders in the world.

"Life is a promise, fulfill it," he said, quoting Mother Theresa.

Catherine Kerns, of Charles Town, W.Va., received her master's degree in strategic leadership.

A bachelor's degree isn't quite enough in today's business world, Kerns said. She hoped the master's degree would give her an edge, she said.

Mountain State President Charles H. Polk conferred associate, bachelor's and master's degrees to 79 graduates Friday, although only about 50 of those graduates chose to attend the ceremony, school officials said.

When Polk asked the graduates to reflect on the support family and friends gave them as they pursued education, the graduating class burst into applause.

Sonya Racey, 53, of Falling Waters, W.Va., is scheduled to board a plane today bound for Paris. She plans to celebrate earning her master's degree in nursing with a two-week stay there, she said.

Racey pursued the higher degree so she would have more opportunities in the nursing field, she said.

Mountain State's Student of the Year was a typical student - a working adult, said Elizabeth Layne Diehl, provost of the school.

Melissa McCormick, a Harpers Ferry, W.Va., woman, received the honor. McCormick had put her family before her career, but eventually earned her bachelor's degree while also working full time, Diehl said.

When she addressed her fellow graduates, McCormick paraphrased Eleanor Roosevelt.

"No one can make you feel inferior if you don't let them - so don't let them," she said.

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