UMES awards 269 degrees during 2011 winter commencement

  • Friday, December 16, 2011

    PRINCESS ANNE, Md. - (Dec. 16, 2011) - The University of Maryland Eastern Shore today awarded 269 degrees at its 15th winter commencement exercises.

    Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown delivered the graduation ceremony address, calling on the class of 2011 to "live well … serve … and be great."

    During the two-hour ceremony at the William P. Hytche Athletic Center, the university handed out 219 bachelor's degrees, 40 master's degrees and 10 Ph.D.s -- including to two UMES employees.

    Melanie White-Davenport and Corey J. Bowen

    Dr. Melanie White-Davenport and Dr. Corey J. Bowen

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    Corey J. Bowen of Berlin, manager of the Henson Center, and counseling services director Melanie White-Davenport of Fruitland, earned doctorates in organizational leadership. Both drew hearty rounds of applause from friends and colleagues in the crowd as their names were announced and they received the traditional hood to accompany their graduation regalia.

    Of the 269 degree recipients, 212 are from Maryland, according to the UMES registrar's office.

    Kierrah L. Norman of Washington, D.C. finished her undergraduate degree work in rehabilitation services, thanks in part to financial aid from an education organization underwritten by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She is one of the first participants in the D.C. Achievers Scholarship Program to graduate from college, according to the College Success Foundation, which administers the Gates' grant.

    The winter commencement was Mortimer Neufville's first as interim president since replacing Thelma B. Thompson, who retired in August. Neufville was a UMES administrator from 1983 to 1996.

    An enthusiastic crowd cheered and waved signs as loved ones strolled across the stage, shaking hands with senior UMES administrators, Neufville and Brown.

    Brown challenged graduates to break down barriers and to ask: "How will I choose to serve ... and how will I make a difference?"

    He prefaced that challenge by the telling the story of how his 87-year-old father, a semi-retired physician, quietly provided free medical care to patients - some of whom he treated while making house calls - throughout his life.

    "Our world rewards hard work - and smart work," Brown said.

    For Megan I. Azu of Cheverly, Md., graduation day was bittersweet. She received her degree in music education and had the honor of leading newly minted graduates in singing the alma mater, but she her mother died in July from heart disease.

    Dr. Karen Verbeke, chair of UMES' education department, described Azu as "a wonderful young lady" whom she admired for persevering through difficult times and being a role model for a younger sibling. Azu is a candidate for a teaching job in Princess George's County.

    A delegation of officials from Nigeria, which has helped underwrite the studies of nearly 100 international studentsx