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USM-H grads celebrate achievement with party

May 27, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ
  • Smantha Mentzer of Myersville, Md., left, and Courtenay Diederich enjoy a graduation celebration Thursday at the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown. Both are receiving master's degrees from Frostburg State University.
Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN -- They already have graduated from their respective schools. On Thursday, University System of Maryland at Hagerstown students celebrated.

Out of 161 graduates from four USM schools in Hagerstown, about 70 attended a dinner and awards program, spokeswoman Erin Harman said.

The Herald-Mail spoke with one from each school -- students of different ages, circumstances and plans.

Francine Ngongang, 31, of Hagerstown

Ngongang received a bachelor's in business administration from Frostburg State University. Might pursue master of business administration and become a certified public accountant.

Ngongang -- who speaks French and English -- might learn Arabic or Chinese and work for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) or another group that changes people's lives. She said she learned negotiating, public speaking and research at USM-H, which should help.

"I have two young girls," she said. "I figured, 'While they're still young, go for it.'"

Jason Miller, 36, of Clear Spring

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Miller received a bachelor's degree in accounting from University of Maryland University College. He completed an internship with Washington County Budget and Finance.

Miller is an investment specialist for the Department of Social Services, who would like to move up the ladder there.

"I was in the mortgage industry," he said, "and I lost my job twice due to the housing crash .... I decided that I wanted a change, so I went for it."

Felecia Garrison, 22, of Baltimore

Garrison received a bachelor's degree in nursing from Towson University. The daily commute was about 160 miles round-trip.

"My life is in Baltimore and I just didn't want to uproot myself up here and live by myself," she said.

Garrison got an externship as a clinical nurse at Johns Hopkins and hopes to get a job there.

"I've always been a caring person and I've always looked out for other people ...," she said.

Julie Shupe-Ferguson, 40, of Walkersville

Shupe-Ferguson received a master's degree in social work from Salisbury University in a pilot program. She plans to help teenagers with emotional and behavioral problems.

While attending law school, Shupe-Ferguson -- a mother of two -- decided to go back into social work.

"It was definitely a long haul ...," she said. "I worked full time. I did field work. I carried two classes. I have two children who are very active."

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