Catawba College's Commencement Saturday, May 17, was a day of warm farewells and long goodbyes as the college awarded 287 degrees to its graduates.
Two separate graduation ceremonies were held in Keppel Auditorium of the Robertson College-Community Center on campus – one at 10 a.m. for graduates of the traditional day program and one at 2 p.m. for graduates in the School of Evening and Graduate Studies.
The 10 a.m. Commencement Exercise
Students in the traditional day program fell into three categories: those going on for more education; those going on to jobs they had already landed; and those with hopes of landing a job thanks to their newly acquired bachelor's degree.
Juliana Conte, who came south to Catawba from Hampton, Ontario as a soccer recruit, was headed even further south, going on for more education with her bachelor's degree in Chemistry and minor in Biology. The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa is in her sights. She attended an American Chemical Society meeting as an undergraduate and was recruited into the Ph.D. in Chemistry program there.
"They're waiving all of my tuition fees and giving me a generous stipend to serve as a teaching assistant there," Conte explained with a smile.
Conte's peer, Elizabeth J. "Lizzie" White of Salisbury, was headed in a similar direction. She will be entering the Ph.D. program in Chemistry at Duke University this fall. White walked across the stage to receive her diploma shortly after her mother, Catawba Professor Julia Grimes Hayes '83, was recognized for retiring from the college after 29 years of service in the English Department.
Brendan Kennedy of Charlotte, who created his own individualized major at Catawba, an Administration of Justice major with a minor in Sociology, is hoping to shortly join either the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department or the Charlotte Fire Department.
"I've passed the written and physical exams for both and I'm just waiting on an interview," Kennedy shared.
First-generation college student, Timberley Motsinger of Wallburg will enter Elon University School of Law in Greensboro this fall. She explained that her Catawba years were a time of growth for her as an individual. As a freshman enrolled in a special section of a first-year seminar designed for students like her who were the first in their families to go to college, Motsinger took her first plane ride thanks to Catawba. She flew to Washington, D.C. as part of that seminar class to tour the nation's capital and improve her own cultural and social capital.
"That trip to D.C. was very helpful to me. It was my first time ever on a plane and my first time in in the Capital," Motsinger explained. "It made me so confident that the next summer, I flew to Japan all on my own to visit my brother who was stationed there."
Motsinger is also confident that the internship she had with a Greensboro attorney while a student at Catawba will benefit her as she enters law school.
"I'm going in with an advantage," she said. "I know what the courthouse [in Greensboro] is like and I have a resource in the attorney I interned with. I hope he thinks I did a good job for him so I can tap him as that resource."
Matthew Blaker of Concord also came to Catawba as a first-generation college student and was in the same first-year seminar with Motsinger. He majored in Communication Arts and said his college experience has been "all about making a personal experience that suits yourself."
Although Blaker said he is "ready to get out and see bigger cities and do bigger things," he will be doing the play by play broadcasts of the American Legion games from Catawba's baseball stadium this summer.
But that summer job is but one step on Blaker's long-term journey: "My next goal is to broadcast professional baseball and my destination is St. Louis. I want to broadcast the Cardinals."
As Catawba President Brien Lewis told the graduates in his charge to them during the May 17th ceremony, "Judging by your activities and accomplishments of your years at Catawba, you are indeed a generation in motion, a generation who will shape the future. You will not be shaped by it.
"William Butler Yeats wrote that, "Education is not the filling of a pail. It is the lighting of a fire." I believe and I trust that your experience at Catawba has kindled more than one flame that you will carry with you – and that you will pass that fire on to others throughout your life. Catawba will watch and support you as you follow your hearts and your intuition – and we will celebrate proudly with you as you reach your highest potential."
The 2 p.m. Commencement Exercise
Four of the graduating seniors in Catawba's School of Evening and Graduate Studies Class of 2014 had earned their associate's degrees from CPCC and went on to complete their bachelor's degree coursework in Catawba classes taught on CPCC campuses. Catawba President Brien Lewis noted that "the unique partnership" with North Carolina's largest community college that began in 2012 had produced this first cohort of graduates.
A representative from CPCC, Dr. Loretta Evivie, the division director for Business and Accounting on CPCC's central campus, was on hand at the commencement exercise to see the CPCC graduates receive their four-year baccalaureate degrees from Catawba.
Lewis also noted that although a representative from Davidson County Community College in Lexington was not on hand for the ceremony because DCCC's graduation was also held May 17. Despite that, Lewis said, "I would like to acknowledge that the partnership we enjoy with CPCC was modeled on the partnership we have with DCCC. We began collaborating with our colleagues in Lexington in January 2010 to offer their graduates the opportunity to earn bachelor's degrees from us."
Vonda Hill of Charlotte, one of the Catawba graduates was also a 2010 CPCC graduate who completed the courses required for her baccalaureate degree on a CPCC campus. She noted that "completing your degree requires hard work and dedication, but it is totally worth the journey."
Catawba awarded 10 students their Master of Education degrees and bid farewell to the director of the college's only graduate program, Dr. Lou Ann Kasias. Kasias, a professor of Teacher Education, has served as the director of Catawba's Graduate program in Education since 1999 and is retiring this year after 32 years of service at the college.
Dr. Edith Bolick '70, who has served as dean of Catawba's School of Evening and Graduate Studies since August of 2003, steps down as Dean and returns to the faculty ranks as professor and chair of the Sociology Department at the College this fall. She was recognized during the commencement exercise for her contributions to the program.