Founders’ Week 2019 ~ Summer Commencement

  • Thursday, September 12, 2019
    Aspen Holmes, Kyle Goodwin and fiancee Samantha Phillips

    The 45 graduates who were celebrated during Thursday's University of Maryland Eastern Shore summer commencement included an athlete who found UMES while competing for an in-state rival, a couple who met in class and plan to marry, and an entrepreneurial undergraduate with a big heart.  

    The 2019 edition of the university's September graduation exercises featured a new wrinkle -- the inclusion of a handful of undergraduates who completed degree requirements before the traditional December ceremony.  

    Held during Founders' Week, past September graduations typically were exclusively for graduate students who completed their doctor of physical therapy studies so they could qualify to take a national licensure exam in October.  

    Among newly minted alumni was Samantha Phillips of Chesapeake, Va., who did her undergraduate studies at Longwood University, where she majored in kinesiology and played four years of varsity soccer.  

    Phillips was uninterested in a career “that put (her) behind a desk,” so she pursued a graduate degree in physical therapy -- a decision inspired by her experience caring for a special-needs child when she was a teenager.  She hopes to specialize in pediatric care.  

    Phillips described her UMES experience as rewarding, in more ways than one.  She plans to marry one of her classmates, Kyle Goodwin of Salisbury, who got an approving round of applause when President Heidi M. Anderson told the audience about the couple's love story.

    Maggie Jo Holecheck and Ariel Richard

    Among those in the Fitzgerald center audience were Ariel Richard's relatives, who traveled from her hometown, Los Angeles, Calif., to see the former Coppin State University volleyball player receive her physical therapy degree.  

    “The program here is awesome,” Richard said. “There are great professors who open to work closely with students above and beyond what you would expect.”  

    After spending seven years pursuing college degrees in Maryland, Richard will return to the West Coast, and already has started networking with UMES alumni who work in the area.  

    Richard's classmate Maggie Jo Holecheck of Cambridge, Md., came to UMES from Salisbury University, where, like her classmate Kyle Goodwin, she majored in exercise science.  

    Not only was UMES a comfortable geographic fit for her graduate school plans, Holecheck said the university is known for offering smaller student-to-teacher classes and has a reputation of producing graduates successful in earning national certification to practice in the profession on the first try.  

    “It's a wonderful program,” Holecheck said. “I come away from my experience here completely satisfied.”  

    Maranda Emily Mitchell of Salisbury was among three undergraduates who received a bachelor degree during the Founders' Week commencement.   

    Mitchell studied accounting while also getting real world experience working as an intern for Granger and Company, PA, a Salisbury accounting firm.  

    Two years ago, Mitchell started her own dog-walking and pet-sitting business.  She also made time to do volunteer work as a puppy foster parent for Grass Roots Rescue in Delaware -- and at Peninsula Regional Medical Center, where she provided much-needed cuddling for babies in the Special Care Nursery.  

    Mitchell crossed the Fitzgerald stage confidently knowing she had a job awaiting - she'll be joining Granger and Company as an accountant.  

    Sept. 12, 2019 was a day filled with “Hawk Pride” in more ways than one.