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HCC commencement brings back memories

May 18, 2008|By MARIE GILBERT

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

HAGERSTOWN -- Marcia Lewis had a slideshow running through her head Saturday morning.

There were images of first steps, terrible twos, dance recitals and the kindergarten play.

Now her niece -- Angela Aguilar-Barron -- was graduating from college.

"I'm doing a lot of remembering," Lewis said. "It's all gone by way too quickly."

She probably wasn't alone in her thoughts as thousands of parents, family members and friends packed Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center for the school's 61st annual commencement.

Degrees and certificates were awarded to 384 students. About 184 graduates attended Saturday's ceremony.

Lewis said her niece's graduation was especially emotional "because she had to fight hard to get to this point."

Aguilar-Barron's husband is serving in the military in California, and being apart has been difficult for the couple, Lewis said.

"We're all very proud of what she has accomplished," she said. "We're here to celebrate."

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Donna Rudy, dean of student affairs, said she has been a part of many graduations, but each one is special.

"It's tremendously exciting to recognize our students and their accomplishments," she said.

HCC President Guy Altieri welcomed the graduates, saying, "Today, we pay tribute to your hard work and achievements."

"This is your day and we're privileged to share it with you," he added.

During his commencement address, Altieri recognized three students for their special achievements.

Kasie Beaver, who was a member of the college's softball team, overcame an injury to her knee when she was in high school. She worked hard following surgery in order to make the team. As a student, she had two part-time jobs, played softball and maintained a 4.0 grade-point average. She will attend Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va., and plans to become an elementary school physical education teacher and coach.

Katie Beard spent two weeks last spring in HIV/AIDS-stricken South Africa as a member of the 2007 International Scholar Laureate Program Delegation in Nursing. Following graduation, she would like to return to South Africa to practice nursing.

Daniel Garletts had a significant challenge to overcome when he suffered a head injury in 1999, which led to problems with concentration and short-term memory. Despite his injury, he graduated with a 3.93 grade-point average, earning an associate degree in psychology. He also is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society for two-year schools.

Garletts said it was exciting to be recognized by the college president, "but also kind of scary."

"Today, I've overcome a big hurdle," he said, standing in line to receive his diploma. "Now, I want to help others."

Garletts said he plans to pursue a degree in occupational therapy and work with victims of the war in Iraq.

"I want to give back," he said.

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