Elkins –Davis & Elkins College hosted its first ceremony on Myles Plaza Thursday with the Matriculation Convocation for the 2020 incoming class. The traditional event that serves as a welcome to the College community for new students was postponed earlier this year.
Through the generosity of Board of Trustees Emerita June Myles, work continues on the $6.7 million renovations to the plaza and adjoining Myles Center for the Arts. Both spaces will serve the College and greater community as a premier venue for numerous events.
In addressing the class, Davis & Elkins College President Chris A. Wood compared the construction of the site to the students’ transformative collegiate journey, which is the result of careful planning, hard work and knowledgeable workers.
“This location was intentionally chosen for this ceremony today because it is a powerful symbol for each of you … each life represented in the entering class of D&E,” Wood explained. “Like the ongoing construction at the Myles Center, your lives are undergoing significant change, a major transformation, and progressing toward a completion evidenced at your college graduation. Like this building, your future is under construction and the result will be a thing of beauty and opportunity.”
Wood pointed out that the 2020 incoming class is unlike any of its predecessors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Your introduction and experience of D&E has been vastly different than all other students,” Wood said. “This College prides itself on a very hands-on personalized approach to your growth academically, socially, spiritually and emotionally. COVID has forced us to change so much, and yet you have shown amazing perseverance to find ways in our increasingly virtual world to establish yourself in this College community and make the transition from high school to college.”
Wood also told the class that the current academic year provides opportunities to reflect upon societal events, especially social justice and equal justice. He encouraged the students to learn to enter into civil dialogue.
“I am pleased as president of this College to sponsor the President’s Diversity and Inclusion Initiative to allow all of us to examine and live out the values this College espouses,” Wood said. “As you get to know your new classmates, you are discovering they come from many places and many different life experiences. You have classmates that differ from you in their political views, and when it comes to faith, they may be religious, spiritual or agnostic. You have classmates that have strong opinions about the most controversial social issues of our day that may or may not agree with you. You and your classmates are a diverse bunch … and we celebrate that. Consistent with our Presbyterian heritage, we believe diversity is a gift of God.”
Myles also addressed the group, congratulating them on making a commitment to earning a college degree and recognizing that the pandemic has changed the way they may have imagined their freshman year.
“Most generations experience a national event that is a turning point,” Myles explained. “Mine was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. For others, it was 9/11. For you, it is COVID. One day you will look back at photos of people wearing masks and being socially distant and it will remind you of your freshman year.”
Myles, along with Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Rob Phillips, and Student Assembly President Elijah Cordle, declared their commitments to each of the participants as Davis & Elkins College students.
Vice President for Enrollment Management and Institutional Advancement Dr. Rosemary Thomas presented the class members hailing from 22 counties in West Virginia, 26 states across the nation and 11 countries around the world.
Participating in the ceremony were: Christian Carranza of Homestead, Florida; Davide Materazzi of Perugia, Italy; Tim King of Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom; Morgan Long of Dailey, West Virginia; Jessica Walton of Virginia Beach, Virginia; Jacob Jobe of Lebanon, Virginia; Peyton Beachler of Franklin, West Virginia; Tylan Hutchison of Chesapeake, Ohio; Deven Martin of Pennsville, New Jersey; Ingrid Skiles of Jacksonville, Florida; Jovon Howard of Atlanta, Georgia; Hayden Mueller of Madison, Wisconsin; Jerica Reed of Dunmore, West Virginia; Keira Riggsby of Arbovale, West Virginia; Caitlin Keller of Philippi, West Virginia; Winifred Mayes of Huntington, West Virginia; Heather Maddux of Orlando, Florida; Skyler Wyatt of Lebanon, Virginia; Shelbe Craig of Meridian, Idaho; Hope Rogers of Fairmont, West Virginia; Elizabeth Craig of Clarkston, Michigan; Lena Doris of Buffalo, New York; Nawnie Colquitt of Sacramento, California; Miranda Ortegon of San Antonio, Texas; Sage Christianson of Ellicott City, Maryland; Daniella Barbetta of Cincinnati, Ohio; Eleanor Digges of Reston, Virginia; Deandre Owens of Colonial Beach, Virginia; Maxwell Gudeman of Freeland, Maryland; Sean Adams of Annapolis, Maryland; Bryanna Gollmer of Erie, Pennsylvania; Matin Eisa of London, England; John Woody of Hanover, West Virginia; Talitha Fortney of Belington, West Virginia; Logan Lippert of West Chester, Ohio; Tijmen Bouw of Apeldoorn, The Netherlands; Bruno Barrueto of Lima, Peru; Sarah Nissel of Weston, West Virginia; Emma Hicks of Buckhannon, West Virginia; Kyia McGill of Buckhannon, West Virginia; Juan Serrato of Bucaramanga, Colombia; Nicholas Casey of Elkins; Addison Lancaster of Clarksburg, West Virginia; Katelyn Leary of Elkins; Elyse Enriquez of Gilbert, Arizona; Carter Nettina of Lithia, Florida; Kathryn Caudill of Huntington, West Virginia; Monika Kubai of Schärding, Austria; Maya Brinson of Fairmont, West Virginia; Bradden Galassi of Jackson, New Jersey; Chavana Mallela Sreenath of Bagalore, India; Mercedes Ray of Clarksburg, West Virginia; Jennifer Lantz of Bunker Hill, West Virginia; Haley Shaffer of Albright, West Virginia; Estelle Schmidt of Cincinnati, Ohio; Mary Carosella of Cleveland, Ohio; Alexa Karsel of Lyons, Colorado; Nate Vance of Poca, West Virginia; Madison Craven of Friendly, West Virginia; Mikaela Vento of Greensburg, Pennsylvania; Gabriele Pealer of Elkins; Kitula Morales of Miami, Florida; Jacob Stairs of Greensburg, Pennsylvania; Brandon Johnson of Huntington, West Virginia; Travis Scala of Rockville, Maryland; KJ Martin of Kansas City, Missouri; Jutaro Takaishi of Kanagawa, Japan; Lena Lee of Chesterfield, Virginia; Brooklyn Maxwell of Buckhannon, West Virginia; Simone Daniels of Denver, Colorado; Alicia Kelley of Elkins; Yavieric Ortiz of Gurabo, Puerto Rico; Jacob Sweitzer of Oakland, Maryland; Briley Anderson of Buckhannon, West Virginia; Natasha MacKey of Buckhannon, West Virginia; Emily Reeves of Buckhannon, West Virginia; Nicholas Ammirati of Holmdel, New Jersey; Corbin Saul of Smithville, New Jersey; Eian Harper of Huntington, West Virginia; Hunter Smith of Jackson, New Jersey; Peter Haverick of Nutley, New Jersey; Samuel Rolle of Riviera Beach, Florida; Gyasi Powell of Jacksonville, Florida; Jackson Gibson of Ona, West Virginia; Josh Sanders of Morgantown, West Virginia; Melody Smith of Crawley, West Virginia; Briana Leon of Miami, Florida; Sydni Overly of Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania; Sharon Morales of Virginia Beach, Virginia; Zack Placer of Sistersville, West Virginia; Nicholas Allen of Cheyenne, Wyoming; Aiden Alegria of Lakewood, California; Pelkin Kwakye of Spring, Texas; Kyle Hawthorne of Morgantown, West Virginia; Robert Stephenson of Cooper City, Florida; Sterling St-Cyr of Lake Park, Florida; Logan Blouir of Gallipolis, Ohio; Riley Roedel of Cheyenne, Wyoming; Logan Schaad of Cheyenne, Wyoming; Thomas Williams of Clarksville, Tennessee; Austin Moore of Glen Dale, West Virginia; Alana Belknap of Dover, Ohio; Exzavier Lewis of Dublin, Georgia; Zoe Van Dijk of Apeldoorn, The Netherlands; Alaina Norton of New Cumberland, West Virginia; Shakira Hamilton of New York, New York; Mia Ely of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Rebekah Durham of Roseville, California; Emily Reckenbeil of Smithville, New Jersey; Thijs Terlouw of Overijssel, The Netherlands; Rabin Khatri Chhetri of Centreville, Virginia; Mia Pelletier of Burford, Canada; Ben Banda of Lusaka, Zambia; Stephen Arnold of South, Florida; Shizhou Li of Beijing, China; Gage Vondrasek of Jacksonville, Florida; Garett Vondrasek of Jacksonville, Florida; Caleb Wiley of Charleston, West Virginia; Shelbey Fuller of Fort Mill, South Carolina; Portia Driggers of Laurel Hill, North Carolina; and Magnus Ammundsen of Hjoerring, Denmark.