Class of 2012 'celebrates its journey'

  • Saturday, May 19, 2012

    PRINCESS ANNE, MD - (May 18, 2012) - Today's spring 2012 commencement at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore was a memorable one for the history books.

    With 560 people receiving degrees, the class of 2012 was the university's largest in its storied, 125-year history. Graduates ranged in age from 20 to 74.

    Philip Turner, Brianna Walker and Dominique Tucker were among a record-setting graduating class @ UMES's spring 2012 commencement. / Photo by Ashley CollierThe youngest was Oluwasegun S. Akinola of Nigeria, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. James Kenneth MacIntosh Jr. of Fort Washington, Md. was the oldest, receiving a Master of Education in Career and Technology Education degree.

    Seventeen people received ceremonial hoods signifying completion of years of work on a doctorate in Organizational Leadership, a terminal degree program now in its 10th year. One was Darlene L. Jackson-Bowen, whose husband, Corey, received his doctorate in the same field in December 2011.

    A capacity crowd in the Hytche Athletic Center, and hundreds of others in satellite locations on campus watching a closed-circuit broadcast, saw and heard commencement speaker Charles F. Bolden Jr., the fourth African-American to fly into space and current Administrator of NASA, the nation's space agency.

    Bolden, actress Beverly Todd and Dr. Samuel Kojo Dapaah, chief technical advisor to the U.S. Agency for International Development in Ghana, received the UMES Presidential Medal in recognition of career accomplishments in their respective fields.

    Actor-director-musician David Ogden Stiers, perhaps best known to American TV audiences as a cast member in the popular situation-comedy, M*A*S*H, received an honorary doctorate. Some in the audience noticed Stiers spoke to each graduate who crossed the stage, and he explained to well-wishers after the ceremony what he was up to.

    Stiers, who received his training at the renowned Julliard School, said his motivation was two-fold; he wanted the satisfaction of knowing each graduate heard "congratulations" at least once on an important day, and he also was hoping to gauge how that important moment registered with them.

    All but 10-to-12 in some way acknowledged his gesture, which Stiers said he found overwhelmingly heartwarming.

    Interim President Mortimer Neufville presided over the two-and-half hour ceremony, telling graduates,"Today you begin to change your direction. Go out in the world and do something memorable and spectacular."

    Taking it all in was UMES' next president, Dr. Juliette B. Bell, who was warmly received when introduced to the crowd. Her first official day will be July 1.

    Among UMES' newly minted alumni:

    • Camille Brandenburg of Mardela Springs, one of just a handful of Marylanders offered a coveted spot in the next class at the Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech.
    • David Bunch of Lincoln, Del., who will attend graduate school to earn a master's degree as a physician assistant.
    • Ashley Davis of Baltimore, who will work for the Marriott Corp.
    • Clifford B. Glover III of Silver Spring, who will enroll inx