CSM Celebrates 11th Winter Commencement

Graduates, Academic Achievement, Faculty Excellence Honored

The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) recognized 376 candidates for degrees and certificates during its 11th Winter Commencement Jan. 14 at the La Plata Campus, with keynote speaker Mayo Shattuck III, chairman of the board, president and CEO of Constellation Energy.

“What makes our graduates so special is that they have completed their studies while juggling so many other responsibilities: most work, many are raising a family and virtually all are contributing in some fashion to make their communities better,” said CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried as he welcomed the family and friends gathered to celebrate 137 of the graduates who participated in the evening ceremony. “They’ve all made sacrifices—sacrifices that add up to a better future.”

            CSM awarded 352 associate degrees and 172 certificates: 44 percent of the students receiving awards are from Charles County, 30 percent are from St. Mary’s County, and 23 percent are from Calvert County; 3 percent are from outside of the region.

Of the graduates, 75 percent are female and 25 percent are male. Associate degrees were awarded predominantly in the fields of general studies, nursing and business administration. Certificates were awarded predominately in the areas of general studies: transfer, and advanced and basic accounting. The ages of this winter’s graduate and certificate recipients ranged from 18 to 65.

Nancy Ware Guevara, 65, of Waldorf received her associate degree in arts and sciences, art, her third degree from CSM. “I started taking classes in 1999 for fun after my husband passed and my children were grown,” said Guevara. “When the credits started adding up I spoke with an advisor about shaping these into a degree.” The result: two degrees—one in general studies and one in arts and sciences awarded in 2006.

Working part-time at the Lifelong Learning Center in Waldorf and part-time at the Southern Maryland Studies Center on CSM’s La Plata Campus, Guevara also found time to teach art classes as a volunteer through the Boys and Girls Club and because of her love for it, she continued taking classes at CSM toward a third degree—in art.

Guevara found that when she initially returned to college, math was her greatest challenge. “I really wanted to learn the material and I really wanted to do well in math,” she said. When her professor offered to help students after class, Guevara took that to heart, calling Professor Barbara Peck at home one evening. “She walked me through the problem over the phone until I got it.” Guevara’s tenacity paid off as she earned high honors with a GPA of 3.964.

With far-reaching interests and a renewed passion for education—she is currently reading a book on the Dutch Baroque artist Vermeer, Gillian McKeith's “You Are What You Eat,” and Maeve Binchy’s “Circle of Friends” and when she starts her car engine, her book-on-tape of Egyptology picks up where she left off—Guevara proclaims herself a life-long learner. “I remember overhearing a high school teacher say that I was not ‘college-material,’” said Guevara. “It hurt and I doubted myself.” Now, with her three associate degrees in-hand, Guevara plans to transfer to University of Maryland University College (UMUC) and work toward a bachelor’s degree in humanities.

A year ago at CSM’s 10th winter commencement, Trisha DeGroot, of Port Tobacco was CSM’s youngest winter graduate, earning her associate degree in business administration just two weeks before her 18th birthday. Now, a year later, DeGroot is, again, CSM’s youngest winter graduate earning an associate degree in mathematics and physical science. “Because of CSM, I got a full-ride scholarship to a four-year college,” said DeGroot. “CSM prepared me well.” While attending CSM she worked as a student assistant for the Wellness, Fitness and Sports Department, served as secretary of the Service Learning Club and worked as the assistant coordinator for Kids and Teen College at the La Plata Campus. Nominated as CSM’s only entry on the All-Maryland Academic Team for Phi Theta Kappa honor society in 2009, and one of only 14 students from the state on the All-USA Team, DeGroot graduated with high honors.

DeGroot credits her CSM experience for giving her many opportunities to develop leadership skills and hone in on a career path. She transferred to LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas, where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration. DeGroot is the oldest of seven; her younger brother, at 16, is following in his big sister’s footsteps—taking classes at CSM while still in his homeschool high school program.

Jennifer Marie Dyson, 27, of California, Md., is an Army spouse who was able to complete her degree in business administration–through several military transfers–by taking some of her classes online. “I would not have been able to complete my degree without the option of online classes,” Dyson said. “When I knew we would be moving to Ft. Lewis [in Washington state] last spring, I made the decision to do whatever was necessary to finish.  It seemed almost a no-brainer that I would continue to pursue my degree at CSM through online classes.”

Having dropped out of a four-year college in West Virginia where she grew up, Dyson was determined not to give up again. She took CSM classes over the summer, enrolled in UMUC, and took online classes at both CSM and UMUC this fall. Dyson and her husband will return to Maryland this summer when she hopes to find a job and continue toward her bachelor’s degree. “If I can get a job lined up before the summer, I would love to move home sooner,” said Dyson, who enjoys not being tied to a particular campus while she works on her degree. “If I had to worry about transferring credits from one college to another through all these moves, I probably would have given up again,” Dyson said.

With a certificate in accounting: basic, Linda Hoffman, 47, of Lusby is on her way to her dream of being a certified public accountant (CPA) one day. “Becoming an accountant is a career I’ve always wanted but never had the time or the opportunity to pursue. It’s never too late,” she said. Of her participation in CSM’s winter commencement ceremony, Hoffman said, “This is a day I never thought I’d see happen. I’m so happy.”

Hoffman will be back on campus when classes start Jan. 19.  “After my associate’s degree, I plan to work toward my bachelor’s and then my CPA.”

CSM’s fifth winter class of nursing students participated in a recognition ceremony earlier in the day. Health Services Interim Chair Laura Polk presented an Academic Achievement in Nursing Award to Tamara Meemken, formerly of Bryans Road and now living in Sun City, Ariz. She graduated with highest honors. Rebecca Tippett of Hughesville received the Achievement in Nursing Award which is given by CSM faculty to a student who has demonstrated advanced clinical competence, service and dedication to the community, leadership within and outside of the classroom, and academic excellence.

Brandon Maeda, 53, of Piney Point, a nursing graduate, said that his experience traveling the world as a merchant mariner gave him an appreciation of the diversity of cultures and a desire to do something major with his life “in a humanistic way.” Previously while traveling in Asia Maeda followed the work of Doctors Without Borders, and saw the great need for nurses and caregivers. “The SARS [outbreak] scare and the tsunami in 2004 really left a deep impact on me and was a great part of my motivation to go into nursing,” said Maeda. He decided that combining training as a nurse with seafaring would give him the opportunity to give back in a meaningful, yet adventurous way.

“I had not been in a classroom in 30 years,” said Maeda. “It was very intimidating.” Before signing on to a nursing program, he purchased a math workbook to help him prepare. “The first question was on fractions and I couldn’t do it,” he said. “I put the book away for a while.” But he didn’t give up. Maeda signed up for English and math classes at the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education in St. Mary’s County. He passed both and then signed up for pre-nursing classes at CSM’s Leonardtown Campus. He finished his pre-nursing requirements with a 4.0 grade point average and graduates with high honors. “The two-and-a-half-year program took me five years, but here I am,” he said.

Maeda, who was at sea working and traveling to see his parents in his hometown of Hilo, Hawaii, was unable to attend the CSM graduation.

In recognition of the role that faculty play in the college’s continued success; the Faculty Excellence Award Honoring Adjunct Faculty was presented to Paula L. Martino who teaches art history.

Faculty Senate President Ron Brown announced the award, recognizing Martino for her commitment to higher education and her enthusiasm in developing classroom and field learning opportunities for students in art appreciation and art history. “The recognition of Ms. Martino for this award is most fitting; for over her several years with the college she has contributed to the success of the travel studies courses and the excellent reputation of the art history courses, and has made evident her excellent teaching abilities in the classroom. “

 “As community college faculty, I believe we have an obligation to be flexible in our responses to the needs of our diverse student population,” Martino said. “Every student with the desire to learn something new should be given an opportunity to do so. As a student who returned to college at the age of 40, I am living proof that art history broadens a student’s horizons.”

One of Martino’s passions has been the development of travel study programs at CSM. She has taken students abroad to study ancient art and architecture found in Rome, Pompeii, Naples, Capri, Delphi and Athens. “My goal at CSM is to inspire students, even if they never get the chance to spend some time in the Roman forum or at the top of a Mayan pyramid,” she said.

The commencement keynote speaker was Mayo A. Shattuck III, chair, president and chief executive officer of Constellation Energy.

In 2008, Constellation Energy’s nuclear subsidiary selected CSM to be part of a Nuclear Energy Institute national pilot program to receive and implement a nuclear engineering technology training curricula leading to an associate of applied science degree. CSM is one of only seven community college partnerships to be chosen for the pilot program.

The company has provided personnel to assist in the design of the college's nuclear energy training laboratory to be located at the Prince Frederick Campus. Additionally, it is providing funding for CSM’s new Career Starters welding program and for equipment to be used in the nuclear energy technician training program. The company has also committed to establish a scholarship fund to provide tuition assistance for students enrolled in the Nuclear Engineering Technology degree program.

“CSM is delighted to have the president of Constellation Energy provide this evening’s commencement address because our interaction with Constellation is a wonderful model of a successful and mutually beneficial relationship,” said CSM Board of Trustees Chair Jamie Raley in his introduction Shattuck. ”

Addressing the graduates, Shattuck said of job prospects in the midst of this economic downturn, “Every generation is faced with a great challenge.” The common thread in all challenges, he said, has been that they result in tremendous leaps forward in terms of jobs and technology. “We are in the midst of reinvention today,” Shattuck said, adding that CSM students and graduates will have many opportunities with Constellation Energy as it takes on the energy challenges the future.

CSM’s Board of Trustees recognized Tom Waring with its Distinguished Service Award for making significant contributions to the growth and vitality of CSM. Creating “Tom’s Kids,” a fund to send youngsters ages 7-12 to summer camp in St. Mary’s County, Waring quickly decided to reach out to fund summer camp tuition for socio-economically challenged youth in St. Mary’s, Calvert and Charles counties for the next five years. “Last year, almost 70 youth attended Kids Camp at CSM sponsored by Tom Waring and his fund,” said CSM Board of Trustee Chair Jamie Raley. “Tom wants to make sure that all youth see the opportunities that lie ahead for them.”

CSM’s Board of Trustees recognized Brooke and Ann Kaine with its Distinguished Service Award for their contributions to CSM and their community. When the Kaines realized an opportunity at CSM to be the first title sponsor of CSM’s Ward Virts Concert Series, they quickly stepped forward and pledged $25,000 to ensure the programming of this then new concert series for five years. With Brooke and Ann Kaine’s generous gift, CSM has been able to attract top pianists in the region to entertain the community on the college’s Bosendorfer grand piano. The Ward Virts Concert Series has attracted pianists such as Brian Ganz and Robert Jordan.

The following students were recognized as candidates for associate’s degrees or certificates at the commencement ceremony:

Calvert County


Chesapeake Beach

Katherine Anne Alden

Veronica J. Amster

Hannah Rose Carlson

Christina M. Cissel

Danielle Marie Hall

Anita Marie Lewis

Julia K. Moses

Tiffany Michelle Sands

Ashley Nicole Scaggs

Martin Reed Walker



Susan Michelle Burek

Natalie L. Cox

David Allen. Newton

Ashley Mae Norfolk

Charles K. Thompson

Shelley White



Misty Dawn Boteler

Kristen N. Cox

Kimberly Elizabeth Farren

Autumn Elizabeth Garner

Kelly M. Nickerson

Kelly Jean O'Neill

Carlee A. Ohler

Kevin Michael Ritter

Tiffany Ann Ruehl

Anthony Peter Seminara

Christine M. Sharpe

Dorothy H. Stellabotta

Jordan Christopher Westfall



Diana Abell

Shannon Marie Alabi

Trevor J. Barger

Sean T. Benedik

Timothy Edward Benson

Cynthia D. Bomgardner

Kara A. Cook

Kenneth M. Dehenzel

Theresa T. Dennis

Karen A. Etzel

Robert Gordon

Derek S. Harry

Linda A. Hoffman

Amanda L. Johnson

Ida Robin Lewonick

Alicia A. London

Amber M. Lynch

Christina Marie Lynn

Renee Lyn. Maroulis

Breanna A. Miller

John Robert Nance

Rochelle Hellen Nelson

Leni Abigail D. Romero

Kelley Marie Sampson

Adrianne A. Schmidt

Teruyo Sugiyama

Patricia Lynn Taylor

Amanda Kathleen Wood



Marisa N. Boucher

Sarah L. Buckwalter

Katherine Ashley Fitzpatrick

Tiffany Lynn King

Stephanie M. Montgomery

Joseph Stickel