InKlined to be a success

  • Tuesday, May 17, 2016

    Married couple finishes UMES studies together 

    Matthew and Keesha Kline - Class of 2016PRINCESS ANNE, MD. - (May 18, 2016) - Keesha and Matthew Kline are among 470 degree candidates scheduled to graduate May 20 from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

    Matthew receives a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice with highest honors - summa cum laude. 

    His wife of nearly two years leaves UMES with a doctorate in pharmacy.

    Pursuing college degrees while married proved motivating and exhausting, both concede.

    The Klines' next stop is West Virginia, where Keesha enters a post-doctoral residency program at the Charleston Area Medical Center and Matthew is a candidate for a job with that state's corrections department.

    His goal is to work with ex-convicts, guiding them in re-assimilating into life outside prison and reducing recidivism. She plans to use her two-year stint as a pharmacy resident to hone in on her next career step, but specialization in geriatric treatment is the current front-runner.

    The Klines grew up five miles apart separated by the Maryland - Pennsylvania state line. She is from Grantsville, a small community in Garrett County, Md.; he calls the hamlet of Salisbury in neighboring Somerset County, Pa. his hometown.

    They met working part-time at the historic Casselman Inn on U.S. Rt. 40, where he was a cook and she was a receptionist and hostess.

    Keesha spent a year at Allegany College of Maryland in Cumberland, then the next year studying biology at Frostburg State University. A sterling academic record made her a prime candidate for UMES' pharmacy program, which will accept exceptional students who do not hold an undergraduate degree.

    Matthew didn't immediately enroll in college after high school and by 2011 was in the U.S. Army Reserves, where he currently holds the rank of sergeant. He, too, started at Allegany College, earning an associate's degree before transferring to UMES in the spring of 2014.

    That summer, the couple wed, stepping together into the unknown of being full-time students at a doctoral research university.

    “We've both worked really hard,” said Keesha, who satisfied clinical field-work requirements back home in Garrett County, in West Virginia, with the Federal Drug Administration in Silver Spring and earlier this year, on a mission trip to Haiti.

    Matthew's Army Reserve unit drills in Wheeling, W. Va., so the seven-hour drive (one way) one weekend each month left little time for a traditional undergraduate social life.

    “I probably spent more time at pharmacy (social) events,” Matthew said.

    Matthew said being married has been an advantage because “we've been able to study together, and help each other out. It's taught us a lot about time management and being unselfish.”

    His five years in the Army Reserves taught him the importance of leadership, hard work, sacrifice and discipline.

    Keesha proudly describes herself as a “country girl” who has long held an interest in a career in health care. Mindful of the in-state / out-of-state graduate school tuition differences, UMES' location and year-round curriculum, she says, proved the perfect fit.

    “I fell in love with the campus,” she said.

    And they fell in love with each other; they married after she already had been a student at UMES for a year.

    Keesha found participation in the pharmacy program's extra-curricular and pre-professional programs rewarding. She was an officer in Phi Delta Chi, a leadership fraternity, and was a member of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists.

    Matthew's near-perfect grade point average earned him induction into UMES' chapter of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society and being named the criminal justice department's most outstanding student. He also is a member of the American Criminal Justice Association's Lambda Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

    Both figured out quickly they needed to make time for “stress relievers” from their hectic lifestyle.

    They routinely scheduled get-away trips on the occasional weekend and during longer breaks. Exploring museums in the mid-Atlantic has been a favorite diversion. New York's Guggenheim Museum is her favorite and his is the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

    And what advice would the Klines give married couples in college?

    "Utilize your resources," Keesha said. “For us, it was family, friends, our faith, part-time work. I would encourage others to tap into whatever it is that resembles a support system.”  

    #HawkPride 

    UMES Office of Public Relations, (410) 621-2355.