SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Senior Jaely Louise Chamberlain drew strong applause for her operatic rendition of the national anthem during opening ceremonies on Saturday at Shepherd University’s 139th commencement.
Chamberlain, of Winchester, Va., ended five years of study at Shepherd that earned her two degrees — one in musical education and the other in vocal performance.
She was one of 716 graduates, including 652 who earned bachelor’s degrees and 64 who received master’s degrees.
Chamberlain, who moved to Winchester with her parents 12 years ago from Australia, is a freelance performer at the Opera Camerata in Washington, D.C.
Diane Rehm, a talk show host for National Public Radio, was awarded an honorary degree before she gave the commencement address.
The focus of her speech was on the gadgets that “are pulling us away from the riches and joys of ordinary and real conversation.”
“I realize I’m biased because conversation is what I do each and every day, publicly and privately. But I also use email, the iPhone and text messaging,” Rehm said. “To my mind, real communication involves engagement. By that, I mean talking, but even more importantly, listening. I believe the sound of the human voice makes a huge difference in every aspect of our lives.”
Not talking directly to each other, she said, “is having a negative impact on how we relate personally, professionally, nationally and internationally.”
She recalled times when members of Congress from both sides of the aisle would appear on her program together.
“No more,” Rehm said. “They’ll come separately ... as though talking with and listening to one whose ideas differ from your own constitute somehow speaking ‘with the enemy.’”
She brought her point home by quoting Massachusetts Institute of Technology psychology professor Sherry Turkle, who said, “Human relationships are rich. They’re messy and demanding. We’ve learned the habit of cleaning them up with technology, and the move from conversation to connection is part of this.”
Jeff Jarina of Edgewood, Md., graduated Saturday with a degree in journalism and already has a job as a marketing editor.
“Thank God he’s got a job,” said Jeff’s mother, Josephine Jarina.
Katherine Elizabeth Cooper of Hedgesville, W.Va., graduated summa cum laude with a degree in ecology.
A Hedgesville High School graduate, she earned an earlier degree in business from Bridgewater (Va.) College, said her mother, Vicki Cooper.
According to her mother, Katherine is applying for jobs while considering going for a master’s degree in ecology.
“She loves being out in the field and she loves Shepherd,” Vicki Cooper said.
Shepherdstown Mayor Jim Auxer and Meridith Wait, chairwoman of the town’s ongoing 250th anniversary celebration in honor of the town’s founding, received this year’s President’s Award from Shepherd President Suzanne Shipley.