Spring 2014 Commencement was a special moment for all the graduates but especially for the inaugural class of WLU physician assistants who began the journey to their master degree just two years ago.
The Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree program welcomed its first class in July 2012 and the class participated in Spring Commencement, finished their clinical rotations in June and then took their board exams.
The May 10 ceremony also included inspiring words from West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman who received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from President Robin C. Capehart. A resident of Wheeling, Harshman is married to Elbin Library Director Cheryl Ryan Harshman.
Harshman encouraged graduates to look for their own stories to tell.
“Stories can connect the old West Liberty to today and the future. West Liberty was founded as an academy in 1837, founded to raise-up good teachers. This continues throughout life. You are not done. Leave here with the potential to be a teacher and a leader. You bear responsibility to preserve our great nation and do your part to create the world. The best can always be better.”
“One way you can teach will be as an example giver. Be a story of the passion in your career. You’ll find your stories everywhere.”
“Pay attention, be astonished — tell about it! You hold great if not divine possibilities. You are leaving with the seeds of your future. A wide-open future, filled with surprises. You must follow your heart.“
Harshman also paid tribute to the value of a small university like West Liberty.
“How lucky you are to be educated in this small University. Because of its relative size it allowed you to know your administrators and professors, to not fall through the cracks.”
Lindsay Cervenak, Weirton, W.Va., student speaker and highest-ranking student from the College of Education, thanked her professors, family and friends for their part in her education. She stressed the value of friendship and encouraged everyone to use their passion to build their careers.
The 177th Spring Commencement Ceremony began with music provided by the Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Matthew Inkster, conductor. Also performing was the WLU Concert Choir, under the direction of Alfred R. de Jaager, who was one of two faculty members honored during the ceremony for years of service.
de Jaager served 48 years as a music instructor and Judy Carney served 16 years as a math instructor. Both retired at the end of the academic year.
Alumni were represented by Joelle Connors ‘03 who delivered an encouraging statement from the Alumni Association known as “Forever Hilltopper,” asking all graduates to remain connected to WLU throughout their professional careers.
The Class of 2014 included students from 11 states and the District of Columbia, plus three foreign countries.