ELKINS – Obtaining a college degree is a huge investment in human capital, President of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation Jennifer Giovannitti told the Davis & Elkins College class of 2019. A former chief executive of the Randolph County Economic Development Authority and West Virginia Wood Technology Center and well-known leader in community development in the tristate area, Giovannitti served as guest speaker for the college’s 110th Commencement Ceremony on May 11.
“We know that people who have gone through this experience – particularly at a liberal arts college – of challenging themselves to learn, to think about humanity and broader intellectual accomplishments build in themselves a type of agility that makes them much more able to withstand anything life might dish up for them,” Giovannitti said to those assembled in Myles Center for the Arts Harper-McNeeley Auditorium.
She advised the graduates that it is now time to consider how they will continue building their human capital for the future.
“To that I say, every job you take from here on out, if it doesn’t have for you leadership and learning, a chance to be inspired, then you should think to yourself, ‘how can I volunteer for the projects that people don’t want, take on the work that’s too complicated for others, put in a few extra hours to get the job done because you know it’s important?’” Giovannitti said.
She explained that going the extra mile will help the world and build personal human capital.
“Anywhere you live for the rest of your life, please think of this as an opportunity to volunteer, engage with others, get to know your neighbors, get to know people,” Giovannitti said. “You’ll see over the course of your life how central those relationships are because you learn from people. You learn from their perspectives, you learn from their disagreements, you learn from their concerns, and it will build your human capital while you’re helping the world.”
Davis & Elkins College President Chris A. Wood reminded the graduates that commencement exercises are not the culmination of the journey. Rather, they are a milestone along the way. He commended the students, their families and the College’s faculty for their efforts and sacrifices that led to degree completion.
“Graduation is not possible without hard work, time studying, expansion of intellectual horizons and social growth,” Wood said. “Graduation is not possible without dedicated faculty who figuratively pour themselves into our students, filling them with knowledge, with curiosity, confidence.
“For the families of our graduates, the diploma represents an accomplishment for you as well,” Wood said. “Parents and other family members have sacrificed so that their son or daughter can experience the transformative education D&E offers. And in return, parents and family members, you receive an overflowing sense of pride in both the accomplishment and the opportunity for the future that is embodied within your graduate.”
Also addressing the class were Chair of the D&E Board of Trustees William “Bill” Nuttall, ’70, salutatorian Kendyl Taylor of Elkins and Valedictorian Nick Altman, a native of Hong Kong and resident of Rockville, Maryland.
Taylor told her classmates that every student has a unique story that led them to D&E. Hers was one of taking time off work to continue her education at her hometown college and make a better life for her two children and husband. Others traveled from various countries, states and towns. Together, they all experienced joy.
“There’s an infinite well of joy overflowing on this campus,” Taylor said. “The special joy you will leave with includes the incredible friendships you have made that will last a lifetime. My challenge to you is to keep that joy with you and spread it wherever you go. Stay joyful knowing that the experience you have had here may be closing, but that you will always have the joy of D&E in your heart.”
Altman shared the story of legendary singer/songwriter Buddy Holly who, along with his band, was killed in a plane crash in 1959. The legacy he left behind influenced many who rose to rock ‘n roll stardom.
“Graduating class of 2019, we only have one life,” Altman said. “No matter what you believe, this is it. This is real life.”
Altman explained that since humans have free will, they can make choices in their lives’ paths and the legacy they leave behind.
“These choices we make can determine whether we leave a good or bad spirit – in this case the spirit is the way you’re remembered, your legacy,” Altman told his classmates. “It is your turn to make a decision. You now have the opportunity to make your mark that outlives your own mortality. You can leave a bad spirit or you can improve and make an impact with a good spirit. Decisions come in all shapes and sizes. They can perpetuate hate and violence or they can bring peace and love.”
He advised the graduates to think about the big picture and live life according to their own plans.
“We’re here now. Make it count. Define your legacy.”
Associate’s degree honor graduates were: Leela Ann Densmore, highest ranking Associate in Arts and Associate in Science combined and highest honors; Jenna Leigh Richman and Kyle Preston Seago, high honors; and Zandra Jade Kelly and Kristy Leah Shiflett, honors.
Receiving Associate in Arts degrees were: Caitlin Elizabeth Cole, Tucson, Arizona, Criminal Justice; Caleb Joshua Enriquez, Centreville, Maryland, Criminal Justice; Chelsea Renee Lambert, Norton, W.Va., Criminal Justice; Alexis Morgan Smith, Virginia Beach, Virginia, Criminal Justice; and Brenda Lea Tase, Romney, W.Va., Criminal Justice.
Associate in Science degrees were presented to: Erin Elaine Beer, Buckhannon, W.Va., Nursing; Johnathon Paul Boggess, Euless, Texas, Business; Mariah Lindsey Bowley, Parsons, W.Va., Nursing; Alyssa Mae Gail Buttram, Beckley, W.Va., Education; Caitlin Elizabeth Cole, Tucson, AZ, Education; Melissa Renae Collett, Beverly, W.Va., Nursing; Mariah Cynthia Davis, Belington, W.Va., Nursing; Leela Ann Densmore, Belington, W.Va., Nursing; Katrina Mae Fowler, Belington, W.Va., Nursing; Kari Virginia Frye, Buckhannon, W.Va., Nursing; Kristen Rae Hedrick, Elkins, W.Va., Nursing; Benjamin Scott Hinkle, Davis, W.Va., Nursing; Elise McKenna Joe, Elkins, Nursing; Kathern Nicole Keith, Gilmer, W.Va., Nursing; Zandra Jade Kelly, Elkins, Education; Courtney Dawn Legg, Belva, W.Va., Nursing; Tesla Marie Lewis, Buckhannon, W.Va., Nursing; Lindsay Rose Marks, Shinnston, W.Va., Nursing; Kayla Sue Masters, Williamstown, W.Va., Nursing; Jennifer Nicole Morrison, Marlinton, W.Va., Nursing; Marlana Kathryn Pennington, Junior, W.Va., Nursing; Talladaga Charolette Pennington, Elkins, Nursing; Jenna Leigh Richman, Buckhannon, W.Va., Business; Kyle Preston Seago, Earlysville, VA, Business; Kristy Leah Shifflett, Harman, W.Va., Nursing; Jontasia Dawn Sitton, Elkins, Nursing; Miranda Dawn Smith, Elkins, Nursing; Mataya Brooklyn Taylor, Elkins, Nursing; Stormie Jo Troxal, Phillipi, W.Va., Nursing; Camilla Paige Wamsley, Norton, W.Va., Nursing; Scarlett Amber Warner, Marlinton, W.Va., Nursing; Samuel Alexander Windham, Houston, Texas, Nursing;
Bachelor’s degree honor graduates were: Valedictorian, Freeman J. Daniels Academic Achievement Award and Highest Ranking Bachelor of Arts Graduate, Nicholas Nai Zheng Altman; Salutatorian, Kendyl Noelle Taylor; Highest Ranking Bachelor of Science Graduate, Tessa Rae Stewart; Summa Cum Laude, Nicholas Nai Zheng Altman, Jenniffer Lee Ridgeway, Haley Anne Smoot, Kendyl Noelle Taylor, Tessa Rae Stewart and Samantha Ann Wehri; Magna Cum Laude, Bailey Jordan Aab, Taylor Noelle Drumm, Tobias Monty Gibbons, Bobbie Sue Hinkle, Briana Elise Hoffman, Whitney B. Mayle, Friedrich Alexander Peter, Logan Allen Phillips, Niklas Rasch-Hegelund, Bayli Dawn Rhodes, Eleanor May Rossiter, Kyle Preston Seago, MacKinzie Dianne Smith, Alice Elizabeth Wagler and Kassandra Jaimee Williams; Cum Laude, Nicole Elaine Armstrong, Cora Ann Bush, Lauren Denise Cain, Laura Claire Dean, Holly Lynne Feather, Stephanie Dawn Holliday, Owen Chandler Hott, Alyssa Ann Jacobs, Zandra Jade Kelly, Haley Dawn Lloyd, Abbie Jo Lowther, Emily Rochelle Morgan, Dakota Carpenter Peak, Jamey Donell Perrine, Allison Brooke Riley, Matthew Gabriel Weintraub, Kenna Marie Whitcomb and Kaylee Ann Yergeau.
Bachelor of Arts degrees were presented to: Emily Nicole Adams, Hedgesville, W.Va., Criminology; Faris Mosfer Alazwari, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Political Science; Abdulrahman Mohammed Alghodayan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Computer Science; Nicholas Nai Zheng Altman, Hong Kong, Art; Jessica Desiraye Anderson, Huttonsville, W.Va., English; Cordel Lee Bostic, White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., Political Science; Lauren Denise Cain, Elkins, Elementary Education; Caitlin Elizabeth Cole, Tucson, Arizona, Child & Family Studies; Ebele Rene de la Bay-Coffie, Cincinnati, Ohio, Political Science; Caleb Joshua Enriquez, Centreville, Maryland, Computer Science; Marcy Cathleen Gilbert, Charleston, S.C., Elementary Education; Kristyn Michelle Giulio, Cockeysville, Maryland, Hospitality Management; Eric Francis Gordon, Bristow, VA, Computer Science; Alyssa Ann Jacobs, Hartly, Delaware, Elementary Education; Kayla Sierra James, Hampton, VA, Psychology & Human Services; Britteny Nicole Johnston, Leckrone, Pennsylvania, Child & Family Studies; Zandra Jade Kelly, Elkins, Child & Family Studies; Victoria Rochelle Kyle, Elkins, Education; Bryan Russell LaFollette, High View, W.Va., English and History; Arman Lakhani, Brampton, Canada, Criminology; Chelsea Renee Lambert, Norton, W.Va., Psychology & Human Services; Haley Dawn Lloyd, Elkins, W.Va. Elementary Education; Shannen Marie McClure, Marlinton, W.Va., History and Theatre Arts; Stewart Allen McGraw, Jr., Hinton, W.Va., English; Carmen Rose Lynne McTaggart, Hyattsville, Maryland, Elementary Education; Kidus Menkir Michael, Arlington, Virginia, Hospitality Management; Whitney Marie Minor, Roanoke, VA, Criminology; Charisse Renee’ Mitchell, Indianapolis, IN, Interdisciplinary Studies; Laura Marie Mullenax, Petersburg, W.Va., History and Political Science; Christopher Lucas Norcross, Scottsville, VA, Criminology; Dakota Carpenter Peak, Berkeley Springs, W.Va., Political Science; Rachel Morgan Pearlstein, Baltimore, MD, History; Shelby Lynne Pemberton, Monogahela, PA, Design & Technical Theatre; Jamey Donell Perrine, Rock Cave, W.Va., Psychology & Human Services; Joshua Aaron Rankin, Rupert, W.Va., Art; Bayli Dawn Rhodes, Parsons, W.Va., English; Allison Brooke Riley, Huntington, W.Va., Interdisciplinary Studies; Eleanor May Rossiter, Stowmarket, England, Psychology & Human Services; Misty Dawn Rule, Webster Springs, W.Va., Art; Kyle Preston Seago, Earlysville, VA, Criminology; Autumn Marie Shreve, Mount Crawford,VA, Psychology & Human Services; Alexis Morgan Smith, Virginia Beach, VA, English; Alisa Marie Snyder, Harman, W.Va., Child & Family Studies; Aaron Robert Strynar, Lexington, S.C., Art; Kendyl Noelle Taylor, Elkins, Elementary Education; Joshua Scott Thompson, Parsons, W.Va., Theatre Education and English; Alice Elizabeth Wagler, Huttonsville, W.Va., Elementary Education; Falicity Dawn Wallace, Valley Head, W.Va., Criminology; Tonisha Makeba Washington, Bronx, N.Y., English; Sara Anne Weiford, Elkins, Criminology; Matthew Gabriel Weintraub, Lewisburg, W.Va., Theatre Arts, Kenna Marie Whitcomb, Junior, W.Va., Psychology & Human Services; Kali Dawn Wilburn, Indianapolis, IN, Psychology & Human Services; Dustin Lee Williams, Belington, W.Va., Criminology; Kassandra Jaimee Williams, Charlestown, W.Va., English; Marshall Blake Williams, Williamstown, W.Va., Criminology; Haley Brianna Wiseman, Elkview, W.Va., Psychology & Human Services.
Bachelor of Science degrees were presented to: Bailey Jordan Aab, Clendenin, W.Va., Biology; Abdullah Masoud Albogami, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Economics; Jade Satsuki Allee, Sierra Vista, AZ, Exercise Science; Thomas Hunter Allen, Big Island, VA, Outdoor Recreation Management; Nicole Elaine Armstrong, Lexington, KY, Exercise Science; Jereomy Lawrence Ayres, Franklin, W.Va., Computer Science, Monnie David Burr, Buckhannon, W.Va., Environmental Science; Cora Ann Bush, Buckhannon, W.Va., Nursing; Alyssa Marie Cairns, West Mifflin, PA, Exercise Science; Katelyn Nicole Cobb, Newsoms, VA, Exercise Science; Carlos Cruza Domínguez, Madrid, Spain, Management; Tonya Marie Cummings, Elkins, Nursing; Ashley Lynn Cunningham, Beverly, W.Va., Management; Laura Claire Dean, Buckhannon, W.Va., Environmental Science; Taylor Noelle Drumm, Granville, OH, Exercise Science; Ashley Nicole Enterline, Cary, N.C., Nursing; Holly Lynne Feather, Buckhannon, W.Va., Nursing; Tobias Monty Gibbons, Leigh-on-Sea, England, Economics; Jack Gibson, Jersey, Channel Islands, Sport Management; Silas Parker Chase Gibson, Elkins, Marketing; Kaitlyn Marie Giffin, Williamsport, MD, Exercise Science; Angelea Ruby Goodwin, Parkersburg, W.Va., Physical Education; Morgan Alisha Graham, Toronto, Ontario, Biology; Hannah Victoria Hanifan, Buckhannon, W.Va., Environmental Science and Sustainability Studies; Brittany Denise Hannah, Snowshoe, W.Va., Marketing and Management; Lauren Marie Hill, Massapequa Park, N.Y., Accounting; Bobbie Sue Hinkle, Morgantown, W.Va., Nursing; Briana Elise Hoffmann, Gainesville, VA, Marketing; Stephanie Dawn Holliday, Lewisburg, W.Va., Nursing; Owen Chandler Hott, Augusta, W.Va., Computer Science; Jocelyn Renee Humpe, Rayland, OH, Accounting and Management; Casey Carla Johnson, Randallstown, MD, Management and Marketing; Danielle Marie Johnson, Mill Creek, W.Va, Marketing; Kourtni Dawn Kimble, Pittsburgh, PA, Nursing; Ian Fernando Lashley, Sandy’s, Bermuda, Management; Matthew Allen Leech, Smithfield, W.Va., Accounting; Abbie Jo Lowther, Alum Bridge, W.Va., Nursing; Katlyn Brooke Manson, Winchester, VA, Exercise Science; Ben Jordan Marshall, Dunstable, England, Marketing and Management; Whitney B. Mayle, Philippi , W.Va., Nursing; Emily Rochelle Morgan, Elkins, W.Va., Accounting and Management; Ian Alexander Nelson, Woodbridge, VA, Accounting; Madeline Elizabeth Nelson, Pocahontas County, W.Va., Nursing; Edmund Emmanuel Parker, Dayton, OH, Management; Shawn Michael Pass, Baltimore, MD, Marketing and Management; Friedrich Alexander Peter, Bielefeld, Germany, Management and Finance; Heather Katlyn Phillips, French Creek, W.Va., Management; Logan Allen Phillips, Coalton, W.Va., Accounting; Brandon Lee Plummer, Street, MD, Exercise Science; Niklas Rasch-Hegelund, Frankfort, Germany, Finance and Management; Jenniffer Lee Ridgeway, Gasport, N.Y., Nursing; Kelsie Evonn Roby, Petersburg, W.Va., Exercise Science; Alex Lazar Samarzich, Upland, CA, Management and Marketing; Mason Lea Schoonover, Elkins, W.Va., Accounting and Management; Kalee Laign Sherrard, Berkeley Springs, W.Va., Biology; Christopher Kirk Silva, Sterling, VA, Sport Management; Elise Clara Marie Simon, Fresnoy-le-Luat, France, Biology; Alexa Nicole Smarra, Pittsburgh, PA, Chemistry; Amee Elisabeth Smith, Elkview, W.Va, Nursing; MacKinzie Dianne Smith, Renick, W.Va., Biology and Chemistry; Haley Anne Smoot, Kitty Hawk, N.C., Nursing; Allison Louise Snoderly, Culpepper, VA, Chemistry; Tessa Rae Stewart, Mason, OH, Exercise Science and Management; Katie Ann Stone, Lewisburg, W.Va., Nursing; Angela Mari Sturdivant, Elkins, W.Va., Nursing; Brenda Lea Tase, Romney, W.Va., Chemistry; Sara Elizabeth Tobin, Pottsville, PA, Management; Brandi Renee Tomey, Buckhannon, W.Va., Nursing; Samantha Ann Wehri, Delphos, OH, Management and Criminology; Rachele Dawn Wilson, Beverly, W.Va., Accounting; and Kaylee Ann Yergeau, Port Orchard, WA, Exercise Science.