180 graduate from Chesapeake College
WYE MILLS — “May you live in interesting times,” commencement speaker Dr. David J. Skorton said Wednesday, May 24, at the 49th Chesapeake College graduation ceremony in Wye Mills.
“This is a big day,” Skorton said. “Not our day — it is your day.”
The ceremony began at 6 p.m. in the Todd Performing Arts Center, where more than 180 graduates walked across the stage to accept their degrees.
Skorton is the 13th secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, and oversees 19 museums and galleries, 20 libraries, the National Zoo and numerous research centers. He is a board-certified cardiologist and a professor at Georgetown University, and previously served as president of Cornell University.
Skorton delivered a message of hope to the graduates, who are in what he called “trying times.”
He began his commencement speech with the quote once used by President John F. Kennedy and explained how it is easy to become discouraged in the present state of world.
He spoke about climate change, the job market and the hyperpartisan state of the government.
“It is all too easy to become discouraged,” Skorton said. “However, these are interesting times; they hold great promise for all of us.”
“Before you feel the rush to prove my optimism is correct,” Skorton said, “I want to tell you why I have so much hope for our future.”
He listed statistics regarding college graduates, specifically those with associate degrees and how those degrees and fields are of great value to the economy.
“Colleges like Chesapeake play a critical role for their students, for their communities, for their country,” Skorton said.
He left the graduates with three assignments for their future.
“Imagine the world as you would like it to be in five years, 10 years,” Skorton said. “Then figure out how to get us there.”
“Please do not let life’s inevitable changes dissuade you from making a difference,” Skorton said. “Finally, be adaptable and do not become cynical.”
Following the commencement speech, college trustee Don Bradley presented Timothy Dignen with the John T. Harrison Award.
Dignen spoke about his journey to college and his plans for the future. He thanked Dr. Barbara Viniar, president of Chesapeake College, along with faculty, staff and Harrison for honoring him with the award.
The presentation of candidates was conducted by Dr. Clay Railey III, vice president for workforce and academic programs.
Viniar and alumnus Robert Sheehan conferred the degrees to the graduates.
This was the last graduation Viniar will oversee at Chesapeake. Her term as president ends July 1. She served as president for the past nine years.
She told the graduates how much it meant to her to see them complete their journey at Chesapeake.
She said her heart was overflowing knowing this would be her last class to see graduate.
“I loved every minute of my time here,” Viniar said. “Graduation is my favorite day of the year.”
“Throughout the year, it is all about budgets and meetings,” Viniar said. “It can be easy to forget why we are here, but then graduation comes and we remember.”
Like many community colleges, Chesapeake enrolls a diverse range of students; some individuals are just starting their journey as adults, while others may be raising a family while pursuing their dreams.
Cathi Romagnano is 20 years old and originally from Servena Park. She currently lives in Easton and graduated with her degree in general college studies.
Romagnano will attend Salisbury University in the fall and will pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology. She said her focus eventually will be in the medical field.
In addition to earning her degree at Chesapeake, Romagnano was a center fielder for the college’s softball team, the Skipjacks.
Laurie Davis of Greensboro is a wife and mom of three. She has operated a day care in her home for several years. Davis graduated with her associate’s degree in early childhood development and plans to open her own day care center.
She said as a mom and someone running a business full time, she sometimes found college life to be hard and stressful, but she was determined to achieve her goals.
Davis said she enjoyed her experience at Chesapeake, specifically her professor, Sarah Ross.
Her husband, Frank Davis, said it was hard at times for his wife to juggle work, family and college but he was proud of her dedication.
“I am really excited for her to take the next step,” Frank Davis said. “She has incredible determination.”
Then there are graduates like Sonya Somerville, who reminds the world that age does not matter.
Somerville is a proud 54-year-old graduate who earned her degree in human services, mental health, and said her time at Chesapeake has been a blessing.
She currently volunteers at the A.F. Whitsitt Center in Chestertown and plans to pursue a future in her field.
“The race isn’t given to the swift or the strong,” Somerville said, “but to those who endure.”
On Wednesday, May 24, Chesapeake College held its 49th graduation commencement. Over a 180 students walked across the stage to receive their degrees. Above, Lisa Marie Young is the last to cross the stage and gives a celebratory fist pump as she she left walk in front of her fellow graduates.
On Wednesday, May 24, Chesapeake College held its 49th graduation commencement. More than 180 students walked across the stage to receive their degrees.
On Wednesday, May 24, Chesapeake College held its 49th graduation commencement. More than 180 students walked across the stage to receive their degrees. Above, Michele Danae Emory receives her degree from Dr. Barbara Viniar.