YORK – Despite the cold, overcast sky on Saturday morning, it was a beautiful event inside the Colis and Dolores Campbell Activity Center as family and friends gathered to witness the York College class of 2013 receive their bachelor's degrees.
York College alumnus Dr. Michael Westerfield, vice president and dean of the graduate college at William Woods University gave the keynote address to graduates. Dr. Westerfield told graduates to learn to laugh more, reciting a recent Gallup poll that indicated 40 percent of Americans live under extreme stress.
"A person who learns to laugh, especially at him or herself, will be much happier," Westerfield said. "Do not waste time on thinking, 'what could have been;’ rather, think about 'what could be?'"
Westerfield challenged the graduating class to always be willing to learn more and to be open to truth and new ideas.
"Change is not a threat," he said. "One purpose of higher education is to challenge you to think. Your education is not over. Learning is ongoing."
"Be quick to take responsibility when you make a mistake," Westerfield advised. "There's something to be said about being honest with our faults. The mark of a great person is that he recognizes his limitations, he embraces grace and he moves forward."
Westerfield concluded with a reading from Willa Cather's “O Pioneers!” that he said resonated with the writer of Ecclesiastes. "And now the old story has begun to write itself over there..."
Dr. Westerfield told graduates, "there really is nothing new under the sun. You do not have to create a new human story. You may now become a part of a larger YC community. Find mentors to help you with your story."
At the conclusion of the commencement address, Dr. Tracey Wyatt, academic dean for the college, presented the Dale R. Larsen Teacher of Achievement Award to Dr. Clark Roush, Professor of Music and Endowed Chair for the Performing Arts.
Recipients of the award are nominated by other faculty members and are considered on the basis of teaching, service, spiritual commitment, attitude, and dedication to York College as demonstrated in activities outside the classroom. Roush is completing his 27th year at York College.
Wyatt then made the Dean’s Award presentation to honor an outstanding senior. The award is the highest academic honor given by the faculty to a graduate whose involvement and leadership are matched by their high academic success.
This year's recipient was Rachel Johnson of West Des Moines, Iowa, who graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in middle grades education.
At the conclusion of these honors, President Eckman shook each graduate's hand as he presented them with their earned diploma. Seniors were then hooded by a relative or close friend.
The color of the hoods represents the institution conferring the degrees as well as signifies the area of study to which the degree pertains.
The Concert Choir sang “Hallelujah! What a Savior” and “Great Day!” before leading the audience in the singing of the Alma Mater.
Dr. Shane Mountjoy then closed the ceremony with a prayer.
A possible new tradition was begun this year as the YC faculty and administrators lined the entryway to applaud and congratulate graduates as they completed the recessional march alongside their escorts.
2013 York College Graduates
York College students received their degrees on Saturday.
Graduates with a * following their name graduated Cum Laude, with a GPA of 3.40 or higher; ** Magna Cum Laude, a GPA of 3.60 or higher and *** Summa Cum Laude, a GPA of 3.85 or higher:
Alec Abend, Emilie Alston***, Samantha Alvis, Bruce Amende, Andrew Aragon, John W. Baker**, Shawn Bandy, Lori Beeson, Carrie Berzins**, Danielle Bowlby, Adam Brock, Corbin Brown, Cody Brumbaugh, Jeremy Burgener*, Tree Burks*, Ashley Calvin, Isabel Camacho, Dustin Campbell***, Luke Case, Blake Casey, Frank Clark, Patrick Clark, Ricky Creek***, Michael Daringer, Erin Davidson, Maegan Detlefs***, Charlie Dick, DeAnthony Ellison, Ben Elsass, Gene Felise*, Carlos Fernandes, Drew Geiger, Angel Gray, Alice Hackett***, Shaun Hess, Tyler Hinton, Shaun Howard**, Bryan Irsik*, Rachel Johnson***, Ray Johnson, Reginald Johnson, Chris Kemen**, Chris Kistenolgu*, Katelyn Kynion, J. Zach Lane,Martha-Abigail Lewis, Sara Lincoln***, Jason Lloyd, Michael Lough, Jaquar Lovett, Alex Lowther**, Michael McGee, Livia Medeiros***, Daniel Miron*, Nicole Moeder, Scott Moyer, Samuel Mwago, Miles Negley, Devyn Pearl, Jessica Pope, Crystal Prawl*, Chelsey Quigley, Rebecca Reynolds, Jose Roman, Katiamari Roman, Crystal Rush***, Megan Salfrank***, Mayara Santos, Bethany Saylor*, Logan Siddall, Dean Slattery, Kory Slaughter, Brent Smith***, Desmond Strickland*, Stephanie Studebaker***, Casandra Taylor**, Devon Teeple, Laura Tesnohlidek, Xavier Trice, Kristin Tuttle***, Reid VanWesten, Thad Varmall, Ally Weaver**, Ashley Wellman**, A.J. Wharton, Bryan Williams and David Young