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Wilson College awards degrees, certificates

May 23, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH

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    CHAMBERSBURG, Pa.-- The sounds of clapping and cheering floated out of Laird Hall and across Wilson College's rain-soaked campus Sunday as the college celebrated its 140th annual commencement.

    Six master's degrees in education, 78 bachelor's degrees and 11 associate degree diplomas were awarded, as well as 64 teaching certificates. Graduates applauded their classmates as each name was called.

    Among the graduates were many adult learners who said Wilson College accommodated their work schedules and family life.

    "I think their commitment to the adult learning program has far exceeded my expectations," said Amy Stinger Myers of Greencastle, Pa.

    Myers was a single mother who wanted to become a kindergarten teacher and chose to attend her mother's alma mater. Before the ceremony, she hugged Susan Whitelock, her mentor from the education department faculty.

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"This is remarkable," Whitelock said. "She did a tremendous amount of work and student teaching while raising her children."

Jayme Moyer of York, Pa., also brought her children to the ceremony.

"Wilson was the first place I found that I could get a teaching certificate without getting a second bachelor's," Moyer said.

She and classmate Melissa Brandt of East Berlin, Pa., reflected on the "inclusive classroom" lessons. There, they learned about working with children of different races, religions and disabilities.

Kimberly Ripka delivered a graduation address on behalf of the adult degree programs. She said graduates were leaving with more than academic knowledge and degrees, since Wilson College challenged them to develop the way they think.

"Each of us has sacrificed a very important priority in our lives -- time with our families," she said, thanking the family and friends who supported the students.

When Sarah Weikert got married last year, her name changed to Sarah Wilson. That led to some jovial comments around school as people realized she now has the same name as the woman who endowed the college.

The modern-day Sarah Wilson identified exceptional professor-student relationships as a true Wilson College asset.

"I was looking for a good art history program. It's small, but it's a good one," she said.

In her address, Senior Class President Christina Howard reminded graduates of mentoring programs, inside jokes and "grilled cheese Fridays." She said faculty encouraged students to participate in class and be confident.

"Soon we'll take these treasured skills into the real world," she said.

Sam Vance of Winchester, Va., enrolled at Wilson for its competitive gymnastics team and majored in elementary education. She lived on campus and enjoyed activities during Sarah Wilson Week, a tradition-infused spirit week of activities.

Lisa Augsburger of York, Pa., studied environmental science. She described a feeling of excitement prior to the ceremony.

"I can't believe it's happening," she said.

The class of 2010 presented College President Lorna Duphiney Edmundson with $810 toward the "Leading with Confidence" fundraising campaign. Edmundson said the college raised nearly $42 million in that campaign, which has a $45 million goal.

"We're going to blow right past that goal," she said.

For her part, Edmundson presented each graduate with a selected book, as tradition dictates. She chose "Animals in Translation" by commencement speaker Temple Grandin.

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