By Colleen S. Good
Times West Virginian
Saturday afternoon, family and friends gathered to congratulate graduates at Fairmont State University’s winter graduation ceremony.
Around 150 students participated in the ceremony, which took place at the Feaster Center.
FSU President Dr. Maria C. Rose presided over the ceremony.
“To the family and friends who share in your success today, thank you for your continuing support of these graduates,” Rose said.
Ron Tucker, chairman of the FSU Board of Governors, expressed how proud the board is of the winter 2013 graduates.
“It’s all about you,” Tucker said. “As board members, we have the opportunity to see first hand how FSU influences minds and changes lives. Graduates, be proud of your accomplishments. We are proud of you.”
The students are now a part of a large alumni network.
“In 50 states and five countries, there are over 15,000 active alumni who share the same experiences that you have shared over your years here at Fairmont State,” Nick Fantasia, president of the FSU Alumni Association, said.
A. Scott Barner was chosen as the senior class representative. He expressed a thought on the mind of many of his fellow graduates.
“Where do we go next?” Barner said. “We will have opportunities left and right. Which ones we take, now that’s up to us.
“We must always remember that it’s not important what we do, but it’s important that we love doing it.”
Dr. Bruce Berry, chairman of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, delivered a commencement speech that was both formal and informal, peppered with jokey references to recent pop music hits, like Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball.”
Berry took the time to acknowledge the accomplishments and hurdles faced by FSU’s first-generation college students.
“You persevered when the odds may have been against you. If you’re the first person from your family to graduate from college, I know the odds haven’t always been in your favor. I was a first-generation college student,” Berry said.
He congratulated all of the graduates.
“To each and every one of you, job well done,” Berry said. “Today is a very big deal.”
Dr. Judy Byers, one of two marshals for the ceremony, said the graduation was “fabulous.”
“It’s wonderful to see the students achieve their goals,” Byers said.
For students, graduation was bittersweet.
“I’m excited. It’s kind of sad because this has been our life for four years,” Brianna Nicole Swann said.
Swann, who graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s in business administration, will be moving back home to Ohio to start a job in human resources.
Elizabeth Maria Turner is from Fairmont. She graduated with a bachelor’s in health science. She plans on eventually moving out of state.
“I want to stay here for a little bit, and then apply to graduate schools in nursing, physical therapy and dental hygiene,” Turner said.
Email Colleen S. Good at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.