Elkins – Davis & Elkins College celebrated a milestone within a milestone with three separate Commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2021. The break from tradition of a single ceremony was put into place to ensure the safety of students and their guests during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While students received their diplomas in person, other parts of the ceremonies – including the hoodings which are normally a part of the Baccalaureate Service – were prerecorded and shown on a large screen as the graduates crossed the stage of Harper-McNeeley Auditorium. Award presentations and a special question-and-answer with the graduates was also part of the video presentation.
Davis & Elkins President Chris A. Wood served as the keynote speaker for the ceremonies, congratulating the students on the accomplishments they earned through hard work and the dedication of faculty, especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Over the past 15 months, I have learned something very important about the Class of 2021,” Wood said. “I have learned of your resilience, and your drive to succeed, and your willingness to do whatever it takes, even in a pandemic, to reach your goals. This is why, I know in my heart, great things await each of you in your lives, and your lives are going to make a positive difference to your families, your communities, and to our world.”
Wood told the graduates that the commencement activities are not the culmination of the journey, but rather a milestone along the way.
“The journey that brought these students to the mountains of Randolph County and to the gem of an institution on the hill continues, and it will lead them to places and experiences that hold great promise,” Wood said. “Like the friendships our students have forged on this campus, there are intriguing, creative and life-loving people waiting to be encountered on the journey as our graduates move on from D&E. They literally have their lives before them, and they are lives filled with opportunity thanks, in no small part, to their years at Davis & Elkins College.”
In a pre-recorded address, Elkins Mayor Jerry Marco, a Davis & Elkins graduate from the Class of 1990, congratulated the class for their resiliency, determination, flexibility and creativity in overcoming unprecedented times to achieve their goals.
“No other graduating class has had to navigate the uncertainty of a pandemic,” Marco said. “However, I feel this has better prepared you to achieve anything you want in life. No matter what life throws at you in the future, you are prepared to adapt and overcome.”
Chairman of the Board of Trustees Mark Barber ’75 also addressed the class and their guests, congratulating them on behalf of the Board of Trustees and sharing his experience as a student.
“With the help and support of a wonderfully talented faculty, I got prepared for what was ahead,” Barber said. “To think critically, creatively and independently; to communicate effectively; to act responsibly as a citizen of different communities; how to collaborate and work for a common purpose; and to live a life of perspective and meaning and service.”
The group also heard from Salutatorian Geovani Steven Ibarra of Damascus, Maryland, and Valedictorian Samantha Kirk of Harrisville, West Virginia.
Ibarra offered his classmates three principles that could help guide them in life. The first, he said, is that knowledge is not always about how much you know, but about how you apply what you know. For the second principle, he encouraged the graduates to give their all to everything they do. Finally, Ibarra said he hopes his classmates never feel successful to the point that pride is blinding.
“I hope you never feel successful because if you do, you might stop working,” Ibarra explained. “You might stop trying as hard as you did when what you have was once what you wanted. You’ll stop moving forward. No matter how high we climb, we can always climb higher. We can always push further. It doesn’t matter if you sprint, jog, walk or crawl. Just keep moving forward.”
Kirk told her classmates that although graduating marks the end of being an undergraduate student at D&E, it doesn’t mean the bonds formed will cease.
“When all of us went to film our hooding ceremonies last week, we were asked to answer a question about our time at D&E, and the question, ‘who will you miss the most?’ felt so strange to answer,” Kirk said. “As if I was never going to see the people I found here again, as if I won’t have dinner with my coaches every time I’m even remotely close to Elkins, as if I won’t be emailing my professors for advice, as if my friends from here won’t be in my wedding.”
“We know who our people are, whether they were all allowed to be in this room or not,” Kirk said. “And even though I refuse to call this goodbye, I am gong to miss not seeing those people, not seeing you all, every day.”
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Rob Phillips announced special honors that were presented to students in prerecorded videos. Award recipients were: Kirk, Mary Mildred Sullivan Award; Douglas Peterson, Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award; Purdum-Goddin Distinguished Graduate Award, Makayla Haddix; Faculty Senior Award, Cody Turner; and Freeman J. Daniels Academic Achievement Award, Kirk.
Phillips also recognized Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Institutional Researcher Nathan Sams as winner of the 2021 Lois Latham Award for Teaching Excellence and Campus Nurse Diana Burke-Ross, recipient of The Robin Price Award for Staff Excellence. In addition, three retirees with a combined 93 years of service were recognized – Dr. Sharmi Roy, professor of mathematics; Mary Ellen Schubert, director of The Naylor Learning Center; and Dr. David Turner, professor of history.
Associate degree honor graduates were: Highest Ranking AA and AS Combined, Kelsey Ayne Burgess; Highest Honors, Kelsey Ayne Burgess and Breanna Joetta Sines; High Honors, Erika Logan Hammond; and Honors, Emily Gail Crosten and Kayla Marie Furby.
Bachelor’s degree honor graduates were: Valedictorian, Freeman J. Daniels Academic Achievement Award and Highest Ranking Bachelor of Arts Graduate, Samantha Marie Kirk; Salutatorian Geovani Steven Ibarra; Highest Ranking Bachelor of Science Graduate, Alvaro Luis Rosa Legoinha; Summa Cum Laude, Taylor Paige Baker, Lindsay Nicole Blake, Nicholas Sean Burnz, Geovani Steven Ibarra, Lisa Wright Jones, Eita Kawata, Samantha Marie Kirk, Alvaro Luis Rosa Legoinha, Melissa Sarah Murphy, Michelle Rae Murphy, Holden Thomas Sions and Cody Scott Turner; Magna Cum Laude, Brittany Nicole Arbogast, John Hutchinson Arrington, Kyatt Elizabeth Lee Bailey, Benjamin Thomas Chenoweth, Lacey Frey, Savannah Faith Gregg, Makayla Tanay Haddix, Patrick Holley, Sierra Katlyn Huffman, Ashley Nicole Lynch, Sebastian Kenny Ongkowijaya, Joshua Douglas Sherman, Leah Jerilyn Underwood, Megan Yvonne White and Michaella Jayne Young; Cum Laude, Laylin Leigh Brown, Matthew Warren Bryan Chapman, Jillian Evans, Aidan Merrick Konhaus, Melinda M. Lambert, Gustavo Lemos Cabral, David Allen Magda, Alton Brent McMillion, Karin Rosario Saleme, Alexis Marie Serback, Roger Henry Shultz IV, Seana Christine Soika, Jeremy Quentin Torres and Matthew Gabriel Weintraub.
Receiving degrees in the nursing ceremony were: Mikayla Paige Ashley, Weston, WV, A.S. Nursing; Ashley Nicole Belt, Elkins, B.S. Nursing; Kelsie Dawn Boone, Buckhannon, WV, A.S. Nursing; Taylor Shiann Brown, Buckhannon, WV, A.S. Nursing; Kelsey Ayne Burgess, Buckhannon, WV, A.S. Nursing; Kayla Anne Carr, Elkins, A.S. Nursing; Kaaleigh Dawn Connor, Gassaway, WV, A.S. Nursing; Emily Gail Crosten, Parsons, WV, A.S. Nursing; Sydney Faith Curtis, Elkins, B.S. Nursing; Whitney Lynn Daft, Beverly, WV, A.S. Nursing; Jillian Evans, Amelia Court House, VA, B.S. Nursing; Annalise Claire Ferguson, Belington, WV, A.S. Nursing; Katrina M. Fowler, Belington, WV, B.S. Nursing; Lacey Frey, Flemington, WV, B.S. Nursing; Cora Lee Fry, Bend, OR, B.S. Nursing; Kari Virginia Frye, Buckhannon, WV, B.S. Nursing; Kayla Marie Furby, Buckhannon, WV, A.S. Nursing; Ann Elizabeth George, Elkins, A.S. Nursing; Kelly Elaine Cooper Gilmore, Elkins, A.S. Nursing; Danielle Nicole Godbey, Walton, WV, A.S. Nursing; Darby Chantel Grimm, Kingwood, WV, A.S. Nursing; Caitlynn Guzman, San Jose, CA, A.S. Nursing; Cynthia Dawn Haddix, Norton, WV, A.S. Nursing; Erika Logan Hammond, Walkersville, WV, A.S. Nursing; Dale Thomas Harlan, Coalton, WV, A.S. Nursing; Amanda Lynn Holley, Selbyville, WV, A.S. Nursing; Sierra Katlyn Huffman, Virginia Beach, VA, B.S. Nursing; Lisa Wright Jones, Rock Hill, N.C., B.S. Nursing; Melinda M. Lambert, Elkins, B.S. Nursing; Kayla Sue Masters, Williamstown, WV, B.S. Nursing; Sydney Corrine Moore, Parsons, WV, A.S. Nursing; Katlyn Ann Morgan, Buckhannon, WV, A.S. Nursing; Jennifer Nicole Morrison, Marlinton, WV, B.S. Nursing; Meredith N. Nelson, Thomas, WV, B.S. Nursing; Samantha Michelle Phares, Elkins, A.S. Nursing; Andre Yosel Ramirez, Miami, FL, A.S. Nursing; Sarah Jean Robb, Gastonia, N.C., B.S. Nursing; Kari Nichole Rudiger, Valley Bend, WV, A.S. Nursing; Elizabeth Ann Sendling, Elkins, A.S. Nursing; Breanna Joetta Sines, Buckhannon, WV, A.S. Nursing; Tia Paige Skinner, Coalton, WV, A.S. Nursing; Darian Hope Smarr, West Union, WV, A.S. Nursing; Mariah Taylor Marie Smith, Buckhannon, WV, B.S. Nursing; Michelle Renee Helmick Snyder, Thomas, WV, A.S. Nursing; Jessica Darlene Spann, Elkins, A.S. Nursing; Summer Nichole Thompson, Elkins, A.S. Nursing; Stormie Jo Troxal, Elkins, B.S. Nursing; Scarlett Amber Warner, Marlinton, WV, B.S. Nursing; Samuel Windham, Houston, TX, B.S. Nursing; and Abigail Zelda Wittig, Troy, VA, B.S. Nursing.
Receiving degrees in the business, education and sport science ceremony were: Brittany Nicole Arbogast, Elkins, WV, B.S. Accounting and Management; John Hutchinson Arrington, Sykesville, MD, B.S. Accounting and Management; Benjamin Charles Aschmann, Alexandria, VA, B.S. Management; Kyatt Elizabeth Lee Bailey, Elkins, B.S. Accounting and English; Taylor Paige Baker, Indianapolis, IN, B.S. Marketing and Management; Pedro Bassin Nunes, Niteroi, Brazil, B.S. Management; Lindsay Nicole Blake, Junior, WV, B.A. Elementary Education; Deanna Leigh Blood, Sarasota, FL, B.S. Marketing and Management; Jacob Ray Bowman, Moorefield, WV, B.S. Exercise Science; Rebekah Dianne Brown, Roanoke, VA, B.S. Exercise Science; Nicholas Sean Burnz, Park City, UT, B.S. Exercise Science; Seth Adrian Cain, Hedgesville, WV, B.S. Exercise Science and Community & Corporate Health; Timothy Duane Campbell-Fowler, Martinsburg, WV, B.S. Management and Marketing; Jordi Josep Castany Muniente, Barcelona, Spain, B.S. Marketing and Economics; Abigail Jane Collett, Elkins, B.S. Community & Corporate Health; Harmony Anne Dickey, Swarthmore, PA, B.S. Outdoor Recreation Management; Kirsten Michaela Doleman, Kearneysville, WV, B.S. Sport Management; Jessica Rose Eadsforth-Yates, Manchester, United Kingdom, B.S. Sport Management; Lydia Marie Eichhorst, Manchester, MD, B.A. Hospitality & Tourism Management; Matthew Thomas Finn, Land O Lakes, FL, B.S. Exercise Science; Cesar Matteo Ghezzi, Buenos Aire, Argentina, B.S. Sport Management; Marie-Eve Sara Marina Goudreau, Midlothian, VA, B.S. -Exercise Science; Sami Hadi Hakami, Ar Rawdah Dist, Abu Arish, B.S. Economics; Marquis Daquan Harris, Lynchburg, VA, A.S. Business; Hayden Derale Harrison, Eleanor, WV, B.S. Physical Education; Tiffany Nichole Hinzman, Warrenton, VA, B.S. Accounting; Patrick Holley, Hirrlingen, Germany, B.S. Sport Management; Dalton Dale Irvine, Marlinton, WV, B.S. Physical Education; Daniel Matthew Jarrell, Milton, WV, B.S. Physical Education; Eita Kawata, Yokohama-shi, Japan, B.S. Accounting; Wyatt Ethan Lanham, Valley Bend, WV, B.S. Accounting; Maxwell Hunter Larimore, Fredericksburg, VA, B.S. Management and Accounting; Alvaro Luis Rosa Legoinha, Porto, Portugal, B.S. Exercise Science; Gustavo Lemos Cabral, Salvador, Brazil, B.S. Finance; Olivia Rochelle Ludtman, Jacksonville, N.C., B.S. Exercise Science; Ashley Nicole Lynch, Buckhannon, WV, B.S. Accounting and Management; William Bryce McBee, Martinsburg, WV, B.S. Sport Management and Management; Kamren Kobe McKinney-Lyons, Houston, TX, B.S. Community & Corporate Health; Alton Brent McMillion, Gassaway, WV, B.S. Management, Accounting and Marketing; Dawson Troy McMillion, Braxton, WV, B.S. Management and Marketing; David Clayborne Messinger, Richmond Hill, GA, B.S. Sport Management; Myles Rodney Monroe, Huntersville, N.C., B.A. Interdisciplinary Studies; Melissa Sarah Murphy, Durbin, WV, B.A. Elementary Education; Michelle Rae Murphy, Durbin, WV, B.A. Elementary Education; Sydney Brooke Nestor, Parsons, WV, B.S. Exercise Science; Luann Ashely O’Kane, Temecula, CA, B.S. Management; Sebastian Kenny Ongkowijaya, Jakarta, Indonesia; BS Exercise Science; Douglas Arthur Peterson, Jr., Mercersburg, PA, B.S. Accounting; David Branson Raines, Asheville, N.C., B.S. Accounting and Management; Miguel Angel Rodriguez, Las Vegas, NV, B.S. Sport Management; Karin Rosario Saleme, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, B.A. Hospitality & Tourism Management and Marketing; Kathleen Jacqueline Shaw, Newcastle, Ontario, B.S. Marketing and Accounting; Joshua Douglas Sherman, Winchester, VA, B.S. Sport Management; Roger Henry Shultz IV, York, PA, B.S. Accounting and Finance; Lucas Sebastian Sosa, Bluffton, S.C., B.S. Community & Corporate Health; Kalvin Jamahl Spells, Houston, TX, B.S. Community & Corporate Health; Morgan Laureen Tandarich, Wellington, OH, B.S. Sport Management and Psychology & Human Services; Jeremy Quentin Torres, Newark, N.J., B.S. Marketing and Management; Leah Jerilyn Underwood, Parsons, WV, B.A. Elementary Education; Brianna Nicole Williams, Belington, WV, B.S. Marketing; Chad Matthew Wright II, Franklin, WV, B.S. Physical Education; Jackson Steele Wright, Buena Vista, VA, A.S. Business; Michaella Jayne Young, Elkins, B.A. Hospitality & Tourism Management; and William Colin Brant Young, Webster Springs, WV, B.S. Physical Education.
Receiving degrees in the creative arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences ceremony were: Cynthia Arango, Temecula, CA, B.A. Psychology & Human Services; Jacob Matthew Bice, Bridgeport, WV, B.A. Computer Science; Gabrielle Annetta Brake, Cowen, WV, A.A. Criminal Justice; Thaddaus Alexander Breckenridge, Beckley, WV, B.A. Political Science; Gregory Scott Broseker, Elkins, B.A. Computer Science; Destiny Cheyenne Brown, Elkins, B.A. Psychology & Human Services; Laylin Leigh Brown, Dryfork, WV, BA Psychology & Human Services; Cody Wayne Lawrence Broyles, Mt. Hope, WV, B.S. Computer Science, A.S. Business; Alexandra Florina Cantarelli, Burlington, Ontario, B.S. Biology; Cody Scott Cawthon, Coalton, WV, B.S. Biology; Matthew Warren Bryan Chapman, Berkeley Springs, WV, B.S. Chemistry; Benjamin Thomas Chenoweth, Elkins, B.A. History; Cassidy Lane Conner, Lebanon, VA, B.A. Psychology & Human Services; Dalton Cook, Baileysville, WV, B.A. Criminology; Devyn Alexzander Dodd, Dunbar, WV, B.A. Psychology & Human Services and Criminology; Cassidy Jordan Eash, Altoona, PA, B.A. Psychology & Human Services; Alexa Lee Greenlief, Parsons, WV, A.A. Criminal Justice; Savannah Faith Gregg, Boiling Springs, S.C., B.A. Psychology & Human Services; Makayla Tanay Haddix, Philippi, WV, B.A. Psychology & Human Services; Jennifer Emily Digman-Harmon, Elkins, B.A. Criminology; Dylan Roscoe Hatfield, Elkins, B.S. Sustainability Studies; Megan MacLean Huffnagel, Elkins, B.S. Mathematics and Computer Science; Geovani Steven Ibarra, Damascus, MD, B.A. Criminology; Jamiyah E’Dasha Johnson, Williamsburg, VA, B.A. Child & Family Studies and A.S. Education; Najay Elliot King, Brooklyn, N.Y., B.S. Biology; Samantha Marie Kirk, Harrisville, WV, B.A. English; Aidan Merrick Konhaus, Berlin, PA, B.A. Art; Cheyenna Renee Liddell-Jones, San Jose, CA, B.A. Psychology & Human Services and Criminology; David Allen Magda, Chillicothe, OH, B.S. Computer Science and Mathematics; Krista Renee McDaniel, Lexington, VA, B.A. Child & Family Studies and A.S. Education; Courtney Savannah McKinney, Lost Creek, WV, B.A. Psychology & Human Services; Gary Richard Meloy, Hambleton, WV, B.A. Criminology; Alejandro Meseguer García De Las Bayonas, Madrid, Spain, B.S. Mathematics; Kelcie Rae Metz, Spencer, WV, B.A. Criminology; Zachary Lewis Miller, Locust Grove, VA, A.A. Criminal Justice; Mya Grace Mintschenko, Winchester, VA, B.A. Child & Family Studies and A.S. Education; Kassidy Lyn Montondo, Watertown, N.Y., B.A. Psychology & Human Services; Lee Andrew Mullenax, Montrose, WV, B.A. Criminology; Jakeya Alexus Perrin, Barboursville, WV, B.A. Criminology and English; Travis James Pickering, Pennsboro, WV, B.A. Criminology; Sydney Danielle Ransbottom, Sutton, WV, B.S. Biology; Gabrielle Maren Reynolds, Charleston, WV, B.A. Psychology & Human Services and A.S. Business; Nicolas Giuseppe Scarangello, Thousand Oaks, CA, B.A. Art; Rosa Ann Scarangello, Salem, WV, B.A. Psychology & Human Services; Mabel Grace Schebek, Charleston, WV, B.A. Criminology; Erich Stefan Sening, Centreville, VA, B.A. Art; Alexis Marie Serback, Belington, WV, B.A. Criminology; Holden Thomas Sions, Moorefield, WV, B.A. History; Rebecca Lee Smith, Covina, CA, B.S. Sustainability Studies; Seana Christine Soika, Pittsburgh, PA, B.A. Criminology; McKinzie Paige Thomas, Roanoke, VA, B.A. Criminology; Cody Scott Turner, Moorefield, WV, B.A. English and Political Science; Carlos Gabriel Vizcaya Fonseca, Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, B.A. Theatre Art; Kaylee Sue Wagner, Lewisburg, WV, B.A. Psychology & Human Services and Criminology; Alexandrea Faith Nicole Washington, Roanoke, VA, B.A. Psychology & Human Services; Matthew Gabriel Weintraub, Lewisburg, WV, B.A. Computer Science; Megan Yvonne White, Weston, WV, B.A. Religious Studies & Philosophy; Emre Yildirim, Istanbul, Turkey, B.S. Computer Science; and Sanya Dana Irene Zickefoose, Elkins, B.S. Sustainability Studies.