CE­CIL

Cecil Whig - - WE ATHE R -

Kam­ras, pu­bic re­la­tions co­or­di­na­tor with the col­lege. He said 900 peo­ple were in the col­lege’s gym­na­sium for the cer­e­mony.

The cer­e­mony in­cluded stu­dent speak­ers de­liv­er­ing what the col­lege called “stu­dent re­flec­tions.” In Mathis’ speech, she shared how her son mo­ti­vated her to come back to school and ma­jor in so­cial work.

Be­fore the cer­e­mony, she said her son, Cory, be­came an ad­dict while re­cov­er­ing from in­juries he sus­tained dur­ing a de­ploy­ment in Afghanistan. Cory, a sergeant with the Marine Corps and a three­time Pur­ple Heart re­cip­i­ent, was de­ployed in 2009, she added.

Mathis said her son un­der­went surgery to have his spleen re­moved be­fore he was trans­ferred to Wal­ter Reed Med­i­cal Cen­ter. He endured 18 op­er­a­tions dur­ing his two weeks at the med­i­cal cen­ter, where de­bris was cleaned out, his legs re­built and his wounds cared for, she said.

Her son had to learn how to walk again and went through ther­apy to help him cope with his brain in­jury and post- trau­matic stress dis­or­der. He was sent home to North Carolina with non- re­fill­able 30- day med­i­ca­tion pre­scrip­tions. He med­i­cally re­tired from the mil­i­tary due to his in­juries.

Two years later, his ap­pli­ca­tion with the Vet­er­ans Af­fairs was ac­cepted, where doc­tors re- eval­u­ated his in­juries and sent him home with more pre­scrip­tions. By that time, Mathis said her son had be­come an ad­dict, and turned to street drugs to deal with his phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal pain.

See­ing the chal­lenges her son endured from the “lack of after­care he re­ceived,” Mathis said she de­cided to go back to school. Af­ter a “lengthy dis­cus­sion” with her hus­band, they closed their busi­ness and she started school. She said she re­al­ized a high school de­gree was not go­ing to get her to where she needed to be as a coun­selor and ad­vo­cate.

“I now had a pas­sion for ad­vo­cat­ing for those who could not ar­tic­u­late their needs,” Mathis said. “I wanted to join the ranks of in­di­vid­u­als who self­lessly cham­pi­oned for our Marines, sol­diers and mem­bers of the com­mu­nity.”

She said Ce­cil Col­lege pro­vided her the op­por­tu­nity to achieve her goal. Mathis said she par­tic­i­pated in nu­mer­ous in­tern­ships dur­ing her time at the col­lege. She said she is tak­ing classes at Sal­is­bury Univer­sity through their satel­lite cam­pus at Ce­cil Col­lege for her bachelor’s de­gree in so­cial work.

Af­ter the cer­e­mony, Mathis said her son has been in re­cov­ery for sev­eral months.

“Re­cov­ery is a life­long process,” Mathis said.

Randy Mathis, Tyle- thea’s hus­band, said he felt “ex­tremely proud” that she grad­u­ated.

“I just wish we could have done it sooner, but it all works out,” Randy said.

Af­ter the cer­e­mony, Stephanie For­rest, 39, of Elk­ton, said she felt ex­cited to have grad­u­ated from the col­lege with an as­so­ciate de­gree in nurs­ing.

For­rest is a mem­ber of the col­lege’s Al­pha Al­pha Theta chap­ter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor So­ci­ety. She said she will con­tinue her nurs­ing ed­u­ca­tion at West­ern Gov­er­nors Univer­sity.

“It’s taken me 20 years to get here,” For­rest said.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY BRI­ANNA SHEA

Ce­cil Col­lege stu­dents at­tend Ce­cil Col­lege’s 47th com­mence­ment on Sun­day.

Ce­cil Col­lege Pres­i­dent Mary Way Bolt speaks dur­ing the cer­e­mony on Sun­day.

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