College celebrates ‘Diamond Decade Mania’
CSM reminisces on success, looks to future at 60th anniversary event
The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) held its “Diamond Decade Mania” scholarship fundraising event on Saturday at the La Plata campus to celebrate the college’s 60th anniversary and reminisce through the years with alumni, faculty, staff and community members.
The costume-friendly event
featured several guest speakers, award/scholarship presentations, a gold diamond necklace raffle drawing, photo booth, live music by Backfin Band, drinks from Quality Street Kitchen and Catering as well as an array of food trucks. Attendees, some of whom were dressed in the style that suited their memory of campus life, heard from local county representatives and elected officials as they helped CSM highlight its diamond anniversar y decade by decade.
“We’re celebrating 60 years of changing students’ lives and making our community better,” said CSM President Maureen Murphy. “I can’t think of anything better than to come out tonight and just recognize the contributions of so many people who helped improve our community, and those who are improving the economic possibilities for others. I’m excited; it can’t get better than this.”
As the college’s leader, Murphy said she is proud to work with a talented group of faculty and staff. Thanks to the big hearts of CSM’s administration and professors who are committed to making the learning process worthwhile, Murphy said she believes that students deserve the best of the best.
“They come together for our students and know that that’s important,” Murphy said. “After all, our students are the future of our society and we need to take care of them. We need to give them all the support they need to achieve their dreams and that’s what we’re about — helping to provide that pathway.”
When it comes to changing lives and making the community better, St. Mary’s County residents Vinod and Ila Shah, who are both doctors, donated $100,000 to help CSM create a new scholarship for medical students.
“When you support education, you are giving a gift which is really remarkable,” Vinod said. “Being a doctor, I think saving lives is important but with education, it’s more than saving lives. You are making a life.”
“We have been practicing in the community since 1974. I have seen the students, from all over the place, doing the work and trying to get an education,” said Ila, a retired pediatrician who served on the CSM Foundation’s board of directors for 2017-18. “I’m very proud of [CSM] because of the support they have given. We are employing a lot of medical students from here [including] the nurses and all of the health alliances. This scholarship [that we are starting] is specifically for the nurses, medical assistants and the health alliance.”
Vinod is happy to see the steady progress that CSM has made in the community since its earlier days when it was called Charles County Community College. He said it is only fitting to donate to a college that supports the dreams of its students.
“The programs and the faculty have improved. The students have done well,” Vinod said. “Many of the students have also practiced their trade in the area [that they studied]. So we’re not only supporting their education but also supporting the community and economic development. We are very fortunate and privileged to be in this community. We’ve been reasonably successful and are focused on providing healthcare as a No. 1 priority. [CSM] has taken initiative in training nurses, physician assistants and medical assistants. So, it’s only natural that we all work together.”
Former Charles County commissioner Danny Mayor, who graduated in 1961 with just nine other classmates, remembers when CSM was known as Charles County Community College.
“It was nothing like this. We had our classes at night in the old La Plata High School,” he said. “I became active in the alumni association in the early ‘70s and got appointed to the board of trustees here in 1979. I was on the board for 15 years and chairman of the board for one year. I was also a county commissioner and went to the House of Delegates. But the most important message I think is what this institution has done for the quality of life here of folks in Charles County.”
In 1981, Mayor and another board of trustee member at the time each donated $5 to establish the CSM Foundation.
Mayor said he is in awe of how much CSM has grown over the years and credits the college for helping him achieve his personal and professional goals.
“It’s a place of maturity,” Mayor said. “Some 30 years later, I was sworn-in as county commissioner on the very stage where I graduated from community college.”
“Thousands of people like me would’ve never have gone to college or gotten a quality of life that they and their families have now if it wasn’t for [CSM],” Mayor added. “Over the past 60 years, [CSM] has had some of the most devoted employees that made this place what it is today. I don’t think anybody can say enough positive things about this place.”
Murphy, who was selected as CSM’s fifth president last year, said the role of a community college has never been more important than it is today. She is humbled and honored to serve at a pivotal moment in history, especially for a college known as a strong force in the region for increasing
the financial stability and prosperity of Southern Mar yland residents.
“It’s a great milestone for the college and for the community,” Calvert County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Carpenter said. “CSM does wonderful things in all three counties. We’re very proud of the Prince Frederick campus and the expansion that has taken place there over the years. As a community college graduate, not here but in California where I grew up, I see the strong need for community colleges. It’s not just for students; they provide many opportunities for re-entering the workforce. It’s particularly great for me because it allows people to start or join businesses, and become members of the chamber of commerce.”
Six-term Sen. Thomas M. “Mac” Middleton (D-Charles), who recently lost his re-election bid for a seventh term, graduated from CSM in 1965. Middleton said he wanted to start a scholarship fund in honor of his late brother, a recovering alcoholic who was ironically killed by a drunk driver.
During Saturday’s event, Middleton presented a $10,500 check to Murphy onstage which he said was a very special moment.
“[My brother] spent the last 17 years of his life, every day, just helping people with addiction problems,” Middleton said. “We had this fundraiser all set up, anticipating that I was going to continue running in my political career. But we decided to just go ahead and do it and use the proceeds to start a scholarship fund in his honor.”
“It’ll be for those students that can’t access a Pell Grant. We have this understanding with [CSM] that if there’s somebody with an addiction problem, we will try to help straighten their life out and recommend them for this scholarship once we get it up and running,” Middleton continued. “Hopefully, there are some young people out there that have had a problem with addiction but want to turn their life around. This will be of great help to them.”
Proceeds from CSM’s Diamond Decade Mania event support the college’s Diamond Scholarship and student services. To learn more, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 301-934-7647.
Del. Edith Patterson (D-Charles), third from right, throws up the peace sign as she joins others for a photo during the College of Southern Maryland’s Diamond Decade Mania celebration and scholarship fundraising event on Saturday in La Plata.
CSM President Maureen Murphy smiles as she prepares to receive a $10,500 check from six-term Sen. Thomas M. “Mac” Middleton (D-Charles), who started a scholarship in honor of his late brother, who committed more than a decade of his life helping other people with addiction problems.