A class for the ages
PRINCESS ANNE, MD - (May 18, 2012) - Today’s spring 2012 commencement at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore was a memorable one for the history books.
With 560 people receiving degrees, the class of 2012 was the university’s largest in its storied, 125-year history. Graduates ranged in age from 20 to 74.
The youngest was Oluwasegun S. Akinola of Nigeria, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. James Kenneth MacIntosh Jr. of Fort Washington, Md. was the oldest, receiving a Master of Education in Career and Technology Education degree.
Seventeen people received ceremonial hoods signifying completion of years of work on a doctorate in Organizational Leadership, a terminal degree program now in its 10th year. One was Darlene L. Jackson-Bowen, whose husband, Corey, received his doctorate in the same field in December 2011.
A capacity crowd in the Hytche Athletic Center, and hundreds of others in satellite locations on campus watching a closed-circuit broadcast, saw and heard commencement speaker Charles F. Bolden Jr., the fourth African-American to fly into space and current Administrator of NASA, the nation’s space agency.
Bolden, actress Beverly Todd and Dr. Samuel Kojo Dapaah, chief technical advisor to the U.S. Agency for International Development in Ghana, received the UMES Presidential Medal in recognition of career accomplishments in their respective fields.
Actor-director-musician David Ogden Stiers, perhaps best known to American TV audiences as a cast member in the popular situation-comedy, M*A*S*H, received an honorary doctorate. Some in the audience noticed Stiers spoke to each graduate who crossed the stage, and he explained to well-wishers after the ceremony what he was up to.
Stiers, who received his training at the renowned Julliard School, said his motivation was two-fold; he wanted the satisfaction of knowing each graduate heard “congratulations” at least once on an important day, and he also was hoping to gauge how that important moment registered with them.
All but 10-to-12 in some way acknowledged his gesture, which Stiers said he found overwhelmingly heartwarming.
Interim President Mortimer Neufville presided over the two-and-half hour ceremony, telling graduates,“Today you begin to change your direction. Go out in the world and do something memorable and spectacular.”
Taking it all in was UMES’ next president, Dr. Juliette B. Bell, who was warmly received when introduced to the crowd. Her first official day will be July 1.
Among UMES’ newly minted alumni:
- Camille Brandenburg of Mardela Springs, one of just a handful of Marylanders offered a coveted spot in the next class at the Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech.
- David Bunch of Lincoln, Del., who will attend graduate school to earn a master’s degree as a physician assistant.
- Ashley Davis of Baltimore, who will work for the Marriott Corp.
- Clifford B. Glover III of Silver Spring, who will enroll in the University of Maryland law school in the fall.
- Henoch Hailu, a first-generation American also from Silver Spring, who will be a special education teacher.
- James Kelly of Parksley, Va., who will be owner-manager of an organic grain farm.
- Jaimie Whyte of Manchester, Jamaica, who continues his studies at the dental school at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
While it is not uncommon for college students today to take more than four years to complete their degree requirements, many in the class of 2012 entered UMES in the fall of 2008 just weeks before the nation was about to experience its most serious economic downtown since the Great Depression.
Bolden, a Naval Academy graduate and decorated Vietnam-era fighter pilot, offered his listeners an upbeat message.
“A new world is yours today,” he said. "The programs and missions over which I preside at NASA today would have been science fiction when I was growing up."
"I ask you to think boldly about how you want to apply the skills you have learned here at UMES," he said. “I expect many of you will help lead us to a better world."
To see more photos from the May 18, 2012 commencement exercises, click on THIS PHOTO GALLERY provided by the Salisbury Daily Times.
Bill Robinson, director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-621-2355.