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'They grow up so fast'

Shepherd graduates 600-plus

Shepherd graduates 600-plus

May 18, 2008|By DON AINES

Click here for more photos of this and other Tri-State area graduation ceremonies

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. -- Summing up four years on one's life in a few words is not easy, but Shepherd University graduate Nylia Zamora was willing to give it a try Saturday.

"I'll give you three words: Fast, sweet and ..."

"And oh so fun," interjected fellow graduate Michelle Van Dyke who, like Zamora, was a member of the women's basketball team and had "WVIAC CHAMPS" atop her mortarboard.

"The four years at Shepherd have gone by way too fast," said Van Dyke, of Williamsburg, Va. "I've experienced a lot of good memories and I'm really sad to leave."

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Another member of the team, Rebecca Frece of Springfield, Va., said she will be looking for a job.

"My major is in rec and leisure with a concentration in sports management," Frece said. She will be "staying with the fam for a while" as she looks for a position as an event coordinator, she said.

"I can't sum up four years because it took me six," said Heather Wright of Bunker Hill, W.Va. That included some transfers and time in the military, she said.

"I'm looking forward to the future," said Zamora, who came to Shepherdstown from Miami. "It's a little scary, but it's great."

The words of that foursome likely summed up what was going through the minds of more than 600 students who received their bachelor's and master's degrees Saturday at Shepherd: Four -- or more -- years of mostly good memories and some uncertainty about the future.

It is a different perspective for the family and friends watching the sheepskins get handed out.

"It's particularly gratifying. Not a lot of people in my family made it through college," said Peter Oswald, who was there to see his daughter, Kristin, of Inwood, W.Va., graduate.

"I'm very proud of her," Ashby Dyke said of his daughter, Katherine, of Shepherdstown, one of two children attending Shepherd.

"I'm the older brother who is still going," Benjamin Dyke said. "I figured it was only fair for her to graduate from something first."

"They grow up so fast," Benjamin joked.

"Judy would be proud, for sure," stepfather Brian Bryson said. Katherine's mother died about 10 years ago, he said, and the family's thoughts turn toward her at moments such as this.

There was some straightforward career advice for graduates from John R. Lemon, the recently retired director of the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown.

"Don't hold out for your dream job. Get your foot in the door and show them what you can do," Lemon said. It is easier to do that from the inside than the outside, he said.

Lemon, who began his working life with a three-year stint with the Peace Corps in Africa, also advised the graduates not to always dwell on their own problems and concerns, but to reach out and help others.

"Serve others," he said. "It's the surest path to happiness."

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