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Weather drives Shippensburg University commencement indoors

May 10, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. -- Parents, friends, faculty, staff and fellow graduates.

They never thought this day would come.

But as they sat stacked floor to ceiling sitting on hard bleachers and folding chairs to watch their loved ones step across the threshold of tomorrow, the feeling was mutual.

"We love you honey! You did it! Whooo!"

Heiges Field House echoed Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with screams, calls and tears of family and friends for the 2008 spring graduates of Shippensburg University.

They did it. Twice.

Heavy rain prompted the university to hold two indoor ceremonies in place of one outdoor ceremony, and despite the last-minute change, the field house was packed for each ceremony.

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For some, the day marked the beginning of an even greater journey.

Recognized as second lieutenants, eight members of the 2008 class walked the floor, not in a cap and gown, but in uniform as they accepted commissions into the United States military.

Second Lt. Joel Rogers of Mechanicsburg, Pa., said graduation for him was filled with both relief and excitement as he said goodbye to friends and prepared to leave for service in the U.S. Army at Fort Knox, Ky.

"Its finally over," he said of college. "But now, it's also all beginning."

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne addressed the graduates Saturday and offered four simple words of wisdom.

Perspective. Passion. Preparation. Prayer.

"Combine your degree with some perspective, preparation, passion and even a little prayer and there is no stopping you," he said. "So have a great life. The world needs you."

The road to graduation was an uphill climb for some students, but it was not paved with regret, said Cody Shaw of Warfordsburg, Pa.

"It was worth it all the way," he said. "I am living the dream."

As the graduates prepared to leave Shippensburg for the last time, senior class President Heather Dino of West Hazleton, Pa., left them with a simple reminder.

"No matter how old you are, how long you have been away or where you are going, you can always come home," she said. "Shippensburg is home."

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