Ship grads face 'scary world'

May 02, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

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    SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. -- The advice given to the cap-and-gown clad Shippensburg University class of 2009 was nothing unusual.

    Use your education wisely. Work to change the world. Learn, lead and succeed.

    Yet the graduates took that advice into wary hearts Saturday as they stepped across the threshold of tomorrow.

    "It's a scary world we are graduating into," said Sarah Leahy of Hollidaysburg, Pa. "I'm very anxious about what tomorrow will bring."

    Leahy was just one of many graduates leaving Shippensburg Saturday without a steady job.

    Entering a struggling job market is frightening, even now that she is armed with a degree, she said.

    Despite the cloud of economic uncertainty hovering over the class of 2009, commencement speakers offered words of encouragement to the 900 graduates preparing to make their way in the world.

    Tomorrow, everything will change, Judge Marjorie Rendell said in her commencement address to the graduates and to the hundreds of friends and relatives crammed in Seth Grove Stadium.


"Tomorrow is about more than you," she said. "It's about what you will do with what you have been given."

Shippensburg has given each of its students many gifts, and at the core of those gifts is a strong education, Rendell said.

For Petra Baker of Mont Alto, Pa., Shippensburg has given her a foundation to continue her education in graduate school.

For Drew Lawrence of Hanover, Pa., it has given him lifelong friendships.

As Lawrence waited for his family to make its way through the crowd, he acknowledged the many friendships he built at Shippensburg.

"I did not like it here at first, but I have met tons of great people," he said. "In the end, I will be sad to leave."

While the day might have been bittersweet for graduates, it was a day of joy for parents, family and friends.

"I am so proud of her," said Leahy's father, Brady Leahy, as he beamed at his daughter. "She is following in her old man's footsteps and becoming a teacher."

As Rendell wrapped up her speech, she acknowledged the challenges waiting for the graduates and encouraged them to face those challenges the Shippensburg way.

"These are challenging times," she said. "Use the leadership skills, the mentorship skills and the citizenship skills you have developed during your time at Shippensburg. Learn, lead and succeed at what you do."

Graduation dates

The following are the graduation dates for area colleges and universities

o Hagerstown Community College -- May 16

o Hood College -- May 16

o Penn State Mont Alto -- May 16

o Shepherd University -- May 16

o Wilson College -- May 17

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