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College Plans 'Student Focused' 137th Commencement

345 Graduates to Receive Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and Master of Education Degrees Saturday

May 10, 2013

President Jim Reynolds chats while traversing campus with three of the student presenters at this Saturday's Commencement. Pictured from the left are Julie Creech, Brandon Candella and Leah Phillips.

President Jim Reynolds chats while traversing campus with three of the student presenters at this Saturday's Commencement. Pictured from the left are Julie Creech, Brandon Candella and Leah Phillips.

One of poet/author Maya Angelou’s most famous quotes speaks of how natural it is for persons to forget the specifics in what someone said or did — but they will “never forget how you made them feel.”

Wilmington College President Jim Reynolds has taken that sentiment to heart as the institution prepares for its 137th Commencement Saturday (May 11). Some 345 graduates will receive Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and Master of Education degrees during the late morning ceremony in Hermann Court.

Gone this year are the conferring of multiple honorary degrees and speeches by persons outside the College.

“Students will be the driving force in the ceremony,” said Reynolds, who will preside over his second WC Commencement.

“We are trying to make this a very special time for our graduates,” he added, “one in which there’s a level of positive emotion and intimacy because students have experienced this educational journey together."

Reynolds noted that, when new students arrive on campus, they receive friendly assistance moving into residence halls followed by several days of orientation activities and bonding experiences.

“That makes a good, memorable beginning,” he said. “We should try to make Commencement a very special time for our graduates, a time that is focused on them and their accomplishments.”

Just as the College provided a substantive beginning upon their arrival, Reynolds sees “real value” in making the ending of their time as students as meaningful as possible.

“It’s important to me that we all feel this level of connection,” he said. “They might not remember exactly what I or anyone else said, but I hope they’ll remember the warm feeling they had when they left the College — that’s pretty important to me.”

Reynolds, who will present the keynote address, is pleased with the selection of the soon-to-be-graduates that will speak at the ceremony.

They include Brandon Candella giving the welcome, Leah Phillips introducing the president, Julie Creech offering remarks representing main campus graduates and Robert Baer speaking on behalf of graduates from the Cincinnati Branches.

“I look at the people who are gong to speak and I know they will do a great job,” Reynolds said.

“Brandon has been such a positive student on campus and Julie is as good a student as we’ve ever had at Wilmington (4.0 GPA in pre-medical),” he said. “I have a great deal of admiration for Leah, starting a sorority on campus and (singularly) trying to keep it going. Also, I read a draft of Bob’s speech and it’s wonderful.”

Baer’s story is typical of many working adult students at the Cincinnati Branches that, often after many years, realize the value of possessing bachelor’s degree.

He wrote that, upon his graduation from high school in 1980, college was not a “logical choice for me at the time,” so he joined the workforce and started a family. The subsequent years flew by with struggles and what he termed as “wasted opportunities.”

In 2005, he told himself, “No more excuses.”

“I decided I was no longer going to be a spectator in this game of life. I was going to create opportunities for myself and not wait for them to come along. I was going to be a player in this game and get back on course.”

Baer earned his associate’s degree from Cincinnati State Technical and Community College and enrolled in WC’s degree completion program in Blue Ash.

Creech took the more traditional route through college — joining a sorority and finishing her degree in four years as an accomplished student-athlete. She will feature a bit more light-hearted approach that Baer’s in her speech, as she plans to allude to the animated film Toy Story.

“Disney movies often mold our childhood, or adult life in some instances, by always managing to teach valuable lessons in the process of thoroughly entertaining us,” she said. “Our time at Wilmington College is much like a Disney movie, one that continuously plays, continuously shapes our lives, has many sequels — and many, many bloopers.”

Other students featured in the ceremony are graduating senior Susan Dicken and junior Bekah Muchmore, who will sing “I Hope You Dance.” On Friday, graduates will attend the annual Senior Lunch before proceeding to Commencement rehearsal followed by their class photograph, Baccalaureate ceremony and a celebration at Firbank Fell, the President’s house.

“I want our graduates and their families to feel we’re making a good ending for their time as students at Wilmington College,” Reynolds said.