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Appalachian graduates well prepared for next challenge

Lt_Gov_Elect_Dalton_t.jpgBOONE—Some 1,000 Appalachian State University graduates and undergraduates turned their sights on their future professional careers during commencement Sunday in the Holmes Convocation Center on campus.

N.C. lieutenant-governor elect Walter H. Dalton told Appalachian State University’s December graduates that reaching their full potential included giving back to their community, their state and to their fellow citizens. Alex Hannah_m.jpg Emily A. Shaad earned a master’s degree in Appalachian studies from Appalachian State University. During commencement, she played two fiddle tunes that she learned as part of her multimedia graduate thesis. brittany.jpg Elementary education major Brittany J. Guy told her fellow graduates that their experience at Appalachian would assist them in all aspects in life. Matthew_Finck.jpg Matthew Finck earned a bachelor’s degree in sustainable development from University College. He urged graduates to remain active in a community of learners no matter where life took them. (Photos by University Photographer Marie Freeman)

“Reaching this point is not easy, but you did it,” Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock told the graduates. “Appalachian has prepared you well for the next exciting chapter in your life. You are prepared, you will lead and you will make a difference in our world and for that I am grateful.”
Appalachian held ceremonies at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Walter H. Dalton, North Carolina’s lieutenant-governor elect, was the guest speaker at both ceremonies. He told graduates that while they had accomplished the challenge of earning a college degree, other challenges await them as they go through life and strive to reach their full potential.

Quoting from Winston Churchill, Dalton told graduates that success is never permanent and that failure is never fatal. “The only thing that endures is courage. I want you to have the courage to reach your full potential because if you do that, we all benefit and there will be a better world out there because of what you do,” he said.

He urged graduates to find time to give back to their community, the state and others. “There is no greater accomplishment than to positively influence the life of another human being,” he said. “With your degree, you are poised to make a great living; but my biggest wish for you is that each and every one of you have a great life and that you give back to this great community that has supported you through these years.”

Student voices

A student representative from each of Appalachian’s degree-granting colleges also spoke during commencement. Here’s what they had to say:

“We are here today because of the guidance and encouragement of our professors, our friends and our family. For me, one of the most valuable lessons they imparted is the knowledge that fear does nothing. The best way to learn is to take risks and to question.” – Kelly A. Izlar, physics graduate, College of Arts and Sciences.

“Being a member of a community of learners is not limited to the classroom and to lectures and note taking. Real learning occurs in universities where it is most free – conversations with professors outside the classroom, learning from your friends and peers, or simply living your life in an environment that fosters the free and open development of ideas.” – Matthew Finck, sustainable development, University College

Emily A. Schaad, who received a master’s degree in Appalachian studies from the Williams Graduate School, played two fiddle tunes that she learned from fiddlers in West Virginia and Kentucky, while researching traditional Southern Appalachian music and Appalachian culture. “When my teaching certification required a master’s degree, I took it as an opportunity to further my interests in Appalachian culture. ASU, with its unique master’s program in Appalachian music and its home community in Watauga County was the perfect fit for me. I will return to public school teaching with a widely expanded knowledge of regional traditions.”

“Today is the day that confirms our success. We have now started our journey to make a difference in our professions and in the lives of others. The passion for our chosen profession and the impact we know we will make on the future is the encouragement we need to move forward. Our Appalachian experience will assist us in all aspects in life.” – Brittany J. Guy, elementary education graduate, Reich College of Education

“Developing a love for music taught me lifelong skills that I carry with me each day. Many of the students graduating today have had their lives touched by an outstanding educator prior to coming to ASU or while in attendance at the university. Let our college journey be a constant reminder of what dedication, hard work and Ramen noodles can do for a generation.” – Sean T. McClure, music education and music performance graduate, Hayes School of Music

“Choose your attitude and recognize what your attitude is and how it affects others. Be there for others mentally, physically and emotionally for every situation. We should all work to some way make someone else’s day, through a smile, a hello or by writing a note. The reward you will gain will be greater than any material thing. Play, have fun, enjoy your work and try to engage others in your life. Laughter and having fun are healthy habits.” – Erin B. McRary, master’s level music education degree, Williams Graduate School

Renea P. Reed, and accounting and economics graduate from the Walker College of Business, talked about a three-month internship in China that taught her people are more alike than different. “As we begin a new phase of life we must remember that in spite of all the madness that may go on in our world, all humans have similar basic needs: food, shelter, relationships and a desire to see future generations achieve more than past and current generations. At times we humans are quite different, but if we look for the similarities, rather than the differences, we may find we are much more alike than we ever imagined.”

“As we embark on this new journey in life, whether it’s getting a new job or applying to graduate school, we find ourselves being faced with some of the same questions we faced when entering school. Are we ready? Will we fail? What other opportunities will we have? Appalachian has prepared us with one of the most powerful tools a human being can possibly have – a mind. We have the ability to think, to reason, and to accomplish any task that we set before ourselves.”
–Vonteena G. Knotts, exercise science graduate, College of Fine and Applied Arts