ELKINS, W.Va. – Davis & Elkins College summer and fall graduates left their alma mater with an abundance of advice and encouragement. A recognition ceremony for the 39 students placed an emphasis on making a difference in the world and spreading kindness.
Chairman of the Board of Trustees and alumnus Bill Nuttall, ’70, told the students that their days at D&E will always remain as a strong memory, and he reminded them there are many they should thank for helping to shape their lives.
“Find time and thank the people who made a difference in your life,” Nuttall said. “Tell them in person or tell them in a note. Stop and think for a second as to who has made an impression in your life.”
D&E President Chris A. Wood also invited the students to reflect on their time at the College and remember the experiences they have shared and the people who supported them along the way.
“Think about the faculty who have nurtured you and the struggles that you have overcome and think about the mountaintops that you have visited as a result of Davis & Elkins College,” Wood told the students. “Think of what a different person that you are today than when you first stepped foot on this beautiful campus.”
Wood reminded the students that while they are celebrating a destination with the completion of their academic career at D&E, they should not forget the journey.
“It’s along that journey that we move from point to point where our live is lived, where our joys are experienced and where we encounter the people who make such a difference in the living of our days,” Wood said. “The journey of the rest of your life is formed by your experiences, in particular the experiences you have had at Davis & Elkins College.”
Wood called on the students to consider their vocation, or purpose, in life and think about the gifts they can bring to the lives of others to make a difference in the world.
“Tonight is wonderful opportunity to pause and give thanks for the closing of one chapter and for the beginning of a new one within your life,” Wood said. “We are proud of each of you. We do have great hopes and great expectations that you will take what you have learned and what you have experienced here and you will make a difference in your life, in the life of your family and in the community and beyond.”
Aly Goodwin Gregg, managing partner of GuardianBridge who has worked with the College’s marketing strategies for the past 18 months, served as recognition ceremony speaker. She emphasized to the students that the liberal arts education they had received – in the classroom and beyond – is one that will help them connect across the spectrum of professional fields.
“Technology cannot exist independent of the arts and the humanities,” Gregg said. “Our world is interconnected. The education you have successfully navigated here is not something you can put into a formula or a spreadsheet. It is something special and intangible that has the unique impact on the art major and the business major; an impact that molds the future teacher and shapes the future nurse.”
Gregg also left students with the advice for building their future: know who you are, what you stand for and what you want, rebel against expectation and remember to be kind.
“Throughout your life you will find that kindness is as important as knowledge to make it in this world,” she said.
Students Samantha Wehri and Kourtni Kimble also addressed their classmates, both recalling their experiences at D&E and their hopes for the future.
Wehri told the group that recently Assistant Professor of Criminology Michael Curtis asked the class what they want to do after graduation. Her response was to make a difference.
“The answer may sound naïve, impractical,” Wehri explained. “Why? Because society had embedded in our minds the impossibility of hope. But, the truth is one person can initiate change. One person’s vision, one person’s action is just the beginning steps to making change.”
Wehri challenged her classmates to never forget that concept and to take charge by being the person who takes the first step in making a difference in everything they do.
Kimble, who earned her associate’s degree in 2014 and returned as an online student to complete her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, described her days at D&E as an adventure in all aspects of learning.
“It is here that we as students learn to work together and depend on each other,” Kimble said. “It is here that we learn to be kind to one another and support one another.”
Echoing Gregg’s advice, Kimble told the group that kindness is an attribute they should always embrace.
“A little kindness can go a long way,” Kimble said. “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
As a memento, the students received a replica of the Davis & Elkins College seal carved on native cherry hardwood. They were also presented with a certificate of recognition. Degrees will be awarded at the annual Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 11.
Students recognized were: Abdullah Albogami, Atlanta, Georgia; Abdulrahman Alghodayan, Morgantown; Wadha Alsegayh, Vienna, Virginia; Johnathon Boggess, Elkins; Cora Bush, Buckhannon; Tonya Cummings, Elkins; Holly Feather, Ellamore; Marcy Gilbert, Elkins; Kristyn Giulio, Cockeysville, Maryland; Sami Hakami, Elkins; Bobbie Hinkle, Morgantown; Stephanie Holliday, Union; Danielle Johnson, Mill Creek; Kourtni Kimble, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Arman Lakhani, Brampton, Canada; Abbie Lowther, Alum Bridge; Whitney Mayle, Philippi; Stewart Allen McGraw Jr., Hinton; Madeline Nelson, Marlinton; Shelby Pemberton, Monongahela, Pennsylvania; Friedrich Peter, Bielefeld, Germany; Niklas Rasch-Hegelund, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Bayli Rhodes, Hambleton; Jenna Richman, Belington; Jenniffer Ridgeway, Parsons; Alex Samarzich, Upland, California; Autumn Shreve, Beverly; Elise Simon, Fresnoy Le Luat, France; Amee Smith, Elkview; Haley Smoot, Elkins; Katie Stone, Lewisburg; Angela Sturdivant, Elkins; Joshua Thompson, Parsons; Brandi Tomey, Buckhannon; Tonisha Washington, Bronx, New York; Samantha Wehri, Delphos, Ohio; Kenna Whitcomb, Mill Creek; Dustin Williams, Belington; and Marshall Williams, Williamstown.