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Commencement remarks focus on memories and what’s next

By Linda Coutant

BOONE—Appalachian State University’s six commencement ceremonies began Friday, May 13, with Chancellor Sheri N. Everts telling graduates, “Thank you for being part of our Appalachian community. Please know you will always be a part of this great university, as you are our most enduring legacy.”

View larger imageDr. Betty Anne Younker of Western University in Canada was speaker at the Hayes School of Music ceremony Friday at Appalachian State University. View photo galleryView larger imageSpecial education major Nicholas Flippen speaks to graduates of the Reich College of Education. View photo galleryView larger imageOne of the approximately 3,400 graduates receiving a diploma this weekend at Appalachian State University. View photo gallery

A total of 3,088 undergraduate students and 329 graduate students were receiving degrees.

In Friday’s events, the Reich College of Education ceremony featured two student speakers, one representing undergraduates and another representing graduate students.

“We have the opportunity to encourage and shape the minds of our youth. This is the most important job a person can have… let’s set our expectations high, letting our students know we believe in them and their potential,” said Nicholas Flippen, who majored in special education.

As a student, Flippen was a member of the Appalachian Community of Education Scholars (ACES) and served as the Special Olympics Committee co-chair for a year. He also served as the program coordinator for the student chapter of the North Carolina Association of Educators (SNCAE).

Sarah Ritchie, who was graduating with her master’s degree in college student development, spoke of her study abroad to the United Kingdom as one of her most memorable experiences as an Appalachian student.

“What’s your favorite memory, what will you take with you when you leave here?” she asked other members of the Class of 2016. “While we’re all embarking on a new journey… be confident in knowing you will always be an important member of the Appalachian family. Leave App knowing you have a network of alumni, limitless opportunities and the support behind you to do anything in the world you would like.”

Dr. Betty Anne Younker, dean of the Don Wright Faculty of Music at Western University in Canada and president of the College Music Society, offered points of wisdom to graduates of the Hayes School of Music, including, “Network – networking is critical and it is real,” “Hold close the value of music and the value of community,” “Realize and celebrate what you’ve acquired,” and “Celebrate your success and failures – it’s in failing that we grow.”

Ceremonies continued Friday with the Beaver College of Health Sciences at 6 p.m. in the Holmes Convocation Center featuring student speakers Anna Bishop from Greensboro, an athletic training major, and Chase Andrew Sherman of Winston-Salem who was earning a master’s degree in exercise science. In 2016, Bishop received the Ron “Doc” Vanoy Student Award as Student Athletic Trainer of the Year. She served as president and secretary of the Athletic Training Association and worked with several Appalachian athletic teams. Sherman was a pilot member of Appalachian’s School of Graduate Studies’ accelerated admissions program and was a graduate research assistantship mentor.

Kathy Roark, who has worked in the Office of the Chancellor since 1996, was presented an honorary degree during the Beaver College of Health Sciences ceremony. She worked alongside five chancellors before retiring this year. She had served as executive assistant to the chancellor and assistant secretary for the university’s Board of Trustees since 2002.

Saturday, May 14, events

On Saturday, the College of Fine and Applied Arts ceremony began at 9 a.m. followed by the Walker College of Business at 1 p.m. and the College of Arts and Sciences at 5 p.m., all in Holmes Convocation Center.

Student speakers for the College of Fine and Applied Arts included Alexandria Sotomayor, who grew up in Cary. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sustainable development and was an officer and dance teacher with Appalachian State Swing Dance Club while a student. Brenton Faircloth received a master’s degree in technology, with a concentration in building science. Faircloth was part of Appalachian’s first “Race to Zero” team, a competition held by the U.S. Depart-ment of Energy for designing net zero housing.

The Walker College of Business featured three student speakers. Accounting major Cody C. McKinney of Vilas was a member of both the Walker College of Business honors program and The Honors College. He played linebacker for four years on the Mountaineer football team and led the team’s Bible study. Emily Haas is a native of Boone graduating summa cum laude after majoring in hospitality and tourism management with a minor in nutrition. She served as the president of the Walker Fellows, manager of BootstrAPPs, Student Conduct Board member, orientation leader and peer leader for Alternative Spring Break. Zak Ammar earned a Master of Business Administration degree in supply chain management. Ammar was president of the Executive Impact MBA Club and was awarded the Outstanding MBA Student award by the Walker College of Business. A serial entrepreneur, he is the founder and CEO of a start-up venture called Vixster.

The College of Arts and Sciences ceremony also featured three speakers. Jennie Flowers majored in anthropology with a concentration in archaeology. She was also a dance minor, having performed in various shows on campus and choreographed for the Momentum Dance Club. She participated in study abroad opportunities in Ecuador and Cuba. Alexander Eric “Zan” Newkirk of Raleigh majored in chemistry with a concentration in forensic science, and a minor in criminal justice. He served as a resident assistant, Student Orientation Undergraduate Leader, and member of the Student Conduct Board. He is an active brother of Alpha Tau Omega and worked as a teacher assistant in the biochemistry lab. Courtney Lewallen of Hickory started graduate studies through Appalachian’s 4+1 (Accelerated Admissions) Program during her senior year as an English major, working on her master’s degree in English while finishing her undergraduate coursework. She served as a teaching assistant in Student Support Services and as a graduate teaching faculty associate.