THE INTER-MOUNTAIN - Family and friends from near and far attended ceremonies throughout the weekend at Davis & Elkins College, as they joined in honoring the accomplishments of the graduating class of 2017.
Prior to commencement ceremonies Saturday morning, the college hosted a special pinning ceremony for nursing graduates Friday evening, as well as its annual Baccalaureate Service Friday night at the Harper-McNeeley Auditorium.
The Rev. Susan C. McGhee, executive presbyter of the Presbytery of Ohio Valley, served as keynote speaker at the Baccalaureate Service and Recognition of Graduates, which included the ceremonial presentation of academic hoods.
McGhee shared stories about people who have made the world a more beautiful place, either intentionally or by accident.
She said the world already is beautiful, but “every day, people are making it more beautiful still.” She told students they brought their own gifts and talents to D&E College, and they have made a lasting impression.
“When you can recognize the beauty that is within you … you can’t help but spread beauty with the world,” McGhee said.
D&E College President Chris A. Wood said Friday’s Baccalaureate Service provided an opportunity to celebrate God’s love and His role in the students’ lives.
“Your life’s journey brought you to the mountains of Randolph County,” Wood told the students. “As you move to the next chapter of your life, savor your journey. … May God richly bless your lives as you move into the world with enthusiasm and purpose.”
One of the students taking part in Friday’s Baccalaureate Service as well as the weekend graduation celebration was Samantha Hornish, of Cairo, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education and graduated cum laude.
Hornish decorated the top of her graduation cap with the saying “teach from your heart,” and it included signatures from students she has taught at Third Ward Elementary School in Elkins. She said she is applying to attend West Virginia University to study literacy education, and she also is applying for teaching positions in Ritchie County.
Hornish said she was excited to celebrate with her family, as well as the people she’s become close to in college.
“It’s a good time to connect with your mentors, and it’s rewarding to reflect on your experiences at D&E,” she said after the Baccalaureate Service.
One of the families who traveled a great distance to take part in the celebration included the parents and grandmother of Emmett I. Jaeger, of Los Alamitos, California.
Jaeger earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and design and technical theater, and he graduated magna cum laude.
“He’s a very special boy; a very special man,” said his grandmother, Donna Livingston, who attended the commencement events with Jaeger’s parents, Dawn and Talbot Jaeger. “He’s there whenever you need him.”
The family members shared how proud they are, and they also were surprised he was part of the program, as Jaeger presented the opening prayer Friday.
Other proud family members during the weekend celebrations were Steve and Jane D’Angelo, of Parkersburg. They were showing support for their daughter in law, Sarah J. D’Angelo, of Belington, who is married to their son, Adam, and earned an Associate of Science degree in nursing.
“She has three kids. We’re very proud of her,” Jane D’Angelo said, noting how much time and effort earning a degree involves, especially while raising a family — "years of hard work and ups and downs."