The UD community celebrates Winter Commencement at the Bob Carpenter Center.

Winter grads

UD Winter Commencement honors newest graduates

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(Editor's note: For additional images from the University of Delaware's Winter Commencement ceremony, click here.)

5:47 p.m., Jan. 13, 2014--Graduating members of the University of Delaware’s Class of 2013 were honored and applauded for their achievements during Winter Commencement ceremonies held Sunday, Jan. 12, in the Bob Carpenter Center.

UD President Patrick Harker joined UD faculty, administrators and members of the UD Board of Trustees in extending a warm welcome to some 3,500 guests, including 350 graduates receiving associate, undergraduate and graduate degrees.

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“Congratulations to all of our new graduates, and to everyone here who’s had a hand in this day — the faculty who taught you, the advisers who counseled you, the family and friends who have loved you and cheered you on through it all,” Harker said. “Everyone here deserves a round of applause.” 

Harker also embraced the more intimate nature of Winter Commencement to share the stories of several graduates, including Breann Luff, a double major in psychology and women’s studies. 

“Breann was a young girl when her mom passed away,” Harker said. “It was the close relationship she developed with her grandfather, who stepped in to raise her, that made Breann want to help others — to pass on those priceless gifts of encouragement and support.”

Also lauded by Harker were Milos Markis, who capped his nine-year UD odyssey with a doctorate in animal and food sciences and national recognition in avian pathology, and Cory Donovan, who began his UD trek in the Associate in Arts Program in Wilmington and earned a degree in geography.

Mechanical engineering graduates Rob Byrant, and Melanie Davis, both of W.L. Gore and Associates, developed a “close” relationship during their undergraduate career at UD, Harker said. 

“The two even went to the same high school together, right here in Newark,” Harker said. “They sound perfect for each other, which is probably why they got married a few months ago. Congratulations.” 

Harker also congratulated international business major Jessica Santander, who chose to study Portuguese in Brazil, taking all her classes surrounded by native speakers, and Victoria Stanhope, who earned an Honors degree in exercise science while compiling a 4.0 grade point average and who helped deliver basic health care to communities in Ecuador that otherwise would not have received it. 

“Everyone here is running a race of courage, compassion, determination and initiative, and it’s your race alone to run, your milestones, your hurdles, your personal best.” Harker said. “Your race is on, and the tape is always just ahead waiting for you to break it. Don’t worry, there’s no one around for miles. Good luck and congratulations!” 

Speaker Liz Ann Sonders

Winter Commencement speaker Liz Ann Sonders, a 1986 UD alumna, shared some of the Wall Street savvy that has earned her respect and honors as senior vice president and chief investment strategist for Charles Schwab and Co. 

Sonders cautioned future investors from the Class of 2013 not to be lured by the “greed is good,” approach of Gordon Gekko in the Wall Street movies but to follow the advice of Warren Buffett, who recommends a “long-term greed” investment philosophy. 

“Your career path is likely to take many turns throughout your life, and investing is indeed a marathon, not a sprint,” Sonders said. “Be long-term greedy, because there are very, very few credible, if any, get-rich quick schemes.”

To complement the brain over emotion approach to investing and planning a financial future, Sonders also emphasized the need to develop an instinct-based alarm system. 

“Be attuned to that inner feeling in your gut, or the sound in your head — call it the twang or the clang,” Sonders said. “It’s when you know something is not quite right, or way off kilter, or out of tune. Hone and trust those instincts.” 

Sonders also noted the existence of a crucial inflection points at which investors need to decide on strategies based on brains and instincts. 

“At the upper inflection point, by definition, you are at the peak, which is something we only know for sure in hindsight, but this is when we become enamored and greedy,” Sonders said. “At the lower inflection point, you are at rock bottom, which you also only know for sure in hindsight, but this is when we become despairing and fearful.” 

Such inflection points are often unrecognizable at the time they are occurring, Sonders said. 

“Life’s inflection points can often be abrupt, and opportunities can present themselves without warning, but they’re more often gradual,” Sonders said. “Learn to spot them, learn to take advantage of them. Heed the twangs and clangs.” 

Sonders also warned the graduates against falling for the lure of short-term greed at the early stages of their careers. 

“When you’re young, you should take chances and choose a job that can become a cherished career,” Sonders said. “Choose a place to live that excites you and allows for as stimulating an after-work life as it does a during-work life, and choose a career that unleashes your creativity and your passions, but one that is also fun.” 

Graduation should mark the beginning of a lifelong education fueled by intellectual curiosity about things that interest, challenge and possibly contradict personal beliefs, Sonders said.  

“I take considerable comfort seeing young men and women like yourselves, and even my children who are here, too, perhaps for the first time, learn valuable lessons that only accompany the skinned knees of experience,” Sonders said. “A combination of hard work, esprit de corps and proper education can turn you into the superstars of the future.”

In her closing remarks, Sonders implored UD’s newest graduates to use their heads for that most important decision of choosing a partner for life. 

“I am thrilled that today more than ever before you are able to make that choice regardless of race or gender,” Sonders said. “But, these expanded choices don’t change the fact that no other decisions in life will bring you more joy if it’s right, or more misery if it’s wrong. Listen for the clang.”

Sonders was presented with an honorary doctor of business degree by Gilchrist A. Sparks III, chairman of the UD Board of Trustees, who lauded Sonders for wanting to “help people do the right thing with their money and bring a culture of investment to this country.”  

On Friday, Sonders participated in a campus panel discussion titled “Preparing Yourself Today for the Investment World of Tomorrow.” She met and spoke with several students and faculty members prior to the presentation, which was sponsored by the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Faculty greeting and alumni welcome

Deni Galileo, associate professor of biological sciences and president of the Faculty Senate, urged members of the Class of 2013 to stay in touch with their professors and revisit the campus where they spent their academic careers. 

“You graduating students are the faculty’s academic children, and now you are leaving UD, your academic home, as educated adults,” Galileo said. “Don’t forget to write once in a while to your academic parents. Better yet, come home to visit. We’d love to see you again.”

Ken Jones, a member of the Class of 1980 and president of the UD Alumni Association, welcomed members of the Class of 2013 as the newest members of UDAA. 

“Today’s ceremony is your first step toward becoming an active member of the alumni community,” Jones said. “Hopefully you will have many more opportunities in the future to engage with your Blue Hen family.”

At the ceremony, the national anthem and UD alma mater were sung by Olivia Markey, a senior majoring in history and the literature of music. 

From the graduates

W. Beatrice Whitworth, a senior English major with a concentration in literary studies, and mother of UD alums Brian and Latisha Whitworth, who began her college career in St. Louis many years ago, said, “It’s really great to be here. I’ve been going to school for a long time, and it’s so good to come back here and get my degree.” 

Brian Garmon, a political science and international relations major from Washington Township, N.J., said, “I enjoyed most of my classes and having to figure out ways to learn and absorb all the material. I like looking at data and seeing what is going on. I hope to get a job as an analyst.”

Michelle Killion of Oxford, Pa, who graduated with a master’s degree in nursing, described her time at UD as being very rewarding and also a lot of hard work. “I appreciated the efforts of Allen Prettyman, director of the UD Nurse Managed Health Center, and Dr. Kathleen Riley-Lawless, assistant professor in the School of Nursing in the College of Health Sciences, who were both great teachers and role models.” 

Matthew Brumbaugh, a double major in English with a concentration in professional writing, and foreign language with a concentration in Japanese studies, from Bear, said, “It’s really quite exciting to be here today. I’m very glad that I had the opportunity to study in Japan in the study abroad program. The people in Japanese studies at UD were very helpful and intelligent, and it was an honor to study under them.”  

Bryan M. Walker, an international business major from Milford, said, “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. My favorite experience was being a part of the UD Symphony Orchestra. It was great to work with some really wonderful musicians.

Article by Jerry Rhodes

Photos by Evan Krape, Kevin Quinlan and Jill Gugino Pante

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