CSM Celebrates 13th Winter Commencement

Graduates, Academic Achievement Honored

The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) recognized 511 candidates for degrees and certificates during its 13th Winter Commencement held Jan. 12 at the La Plata Campus.

“When you watch our graduates walk across the stage—this is an amazing feat for most of them because most have families, they work, they have a life and they are outstanding students. For them to reach this point is nothing short of incredible,” said CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried as he welcomed the family and friends gathered to celebrate 148 of the graduates who participated in the evening ceremony. “What they share—and they share a very important attribute—is the understanding of the importance of a college education.”

            CSM awarded 500 associate degrees and 242 certificates: 43 percent of the students receiving awards are from Charles County, 31 percent are from St. Mary’s County and 23 percent are from Calvert County; 3 percent are from outside of the region. Nearly one-quarter of all associate's degree candidates for graduation earned a 3.5 grade point average or higher.

Associate degrees were awarded predominantly in the fields of general studies, business administration, and arts and sciences, while general studies: transfer and advanced and basic accounting topped the list as the most popular certificates. Of the graduates, 67 percent were female. The ages of this winter’s associate’s degree and certificate recipients ranged from 18 to 64.

The most senior candidate for graduation is Susan T. Kruszka, 64, of Waldorf.

Kruszka earned an associate’s degree in arts and sciences and an associate’s degree in general studies. “It’s taken a long time,” she said of the academic journey she began in the 1970s. For Kruszka’s complete story, visit http://bit.ly/Af4zyn.

The youngest candidate for graduation is Alyson Dodson, 18, of Park Hall in St. Mary’s County. Dodson began her studies at CSM as a dual/concurrent homeschool student at the age of 16 and through the years attended classes at all three campuses and the Waldorf Center.  She completed the requirements for an associate’s degree in general studies in August and transferred to St. Mary’s College of Maryland where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. For Dodson’s complete story, visit http://bit.ly/Af4zyn.

CSM’s commencement ceremony also recognized students who earned certificates and letters of recognition.

Sharma Egner, 48, of Waldorf, celebrated achieving the first steps in her path toward an associate’s degree by receiving certificates in office technology and information processing and letters of recognition in computer office skills, clerical assistant, medical transcription and legal transcription. She began taking classes at CSM in 2008 and quickly became more confident in her academic abilities. As a stay-at-home mother who homeschools her children and helps with the family’s business, Egner feels that she is setting a good example. “I’m not just telling my children that education is a good thing—I’m showing them that they can set goals and reach them,” said Egner.

Egner organized her academic workload as stepping stones from letters of recognition to certificates. “I wanted to be able to add my accomplishments to my resume as I work my way to an associate’s degree,” she said, adding that she is on track to earn another certification this spring before reaching the credits she needs for her associate’s degree in general studies at the end of the fall 2012 semester. “I like structure. I can be flexible, but with teaching, school and work I need to be organized and manage my time well,” she said.

CSM’s eighth winter class of nursing students participated in a recognition ceremony earlier in the day. Health Services Chair Dr. Laura Polk presented an Academic Achievement in Nursing Award to Rachel Emerson of Lusby, who graduated with highest honors. Michele Spaulding of Huntingtown 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. For more on the Nursing Recognition Ceremony, visit http://bit.ly/yiOeAF.

            Commencement keynote speaker Rear Admiral Michelle Howard, chief of staff to the director for strategic plans and policy, J-5, Joint Staff is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the Army’s Command and General Staff College, with a master’s degree in military arts and sciences. In 1999, Howard took command of USS Rushmore, becoming the first African American woman to command a ship in the U.S. Navy. Howard shared a number of personal stories with graduates including one referring to her petite stature. “Life’s success in not about your height. Life’s success is about aspiring to the heights. So how do you manage that successful climb, and how do you overcome the challenges on this journey of life?”  For Howard’s story, visit http://bit.ly/yiOeAF.

            For more on RADM Howard, visit http://bit.ly/zOTY7V.

            CSM’s Board of Trustees recognized Calvert County residents Donna Wayson and JoAnn Kushner,  Charles County residents Jay and Mary Lilly and CSM Foundation Director Al Leandre and his wife Lisa with Trustees’ Distinguished Service Awards for their support of the college. For more on the Distinguished Service Award recipients, visit http://bit.ly/zu4LKW.

The following students were recognized as candidates for associate’s degrees or certificates at the commencement ceremony: (See attached listing)

For information about the college, call 301-934-7765 or 301-870-2309, 240-725-5499 or 443-550-6199, Ext. 7765 or visit www.csmd.edu.

For photos and additional stories from commencement, visit http://bit.ly/yiOeAF. For captions, see attached listing.

CSM 13th Winter Commencement Graduate Candidates


       The following students at the College of Southern Maryland were recognized as

candidates for associate’s degrees or certificates at the 13th winter commencement ceremony

held Jan. 12 at the La Plata Campus:


Calvert County



Trischana Shemeka Davies


Broomes Island

Kimberly Marie Barnes


Chesapeake Beach

Joshua Thomas Brown

Sarah Rebekah Cattell

Richard Thomas Cox Jr.

Christin Elizabeth Fallin

Jennifer L. Fanton

Monica M. Fellows

Hillary M. Griffie

Aaron Michael Gwynn

Danielle Emma Harrington

Shaun Everett Kline

Michael Steven Martin

William Richard Merkle

Jared William Moret

Robin Elizabeth Norvell

Lisa Marie Serafino

Tara Irene Shumate

Jessica Lynn Snell

Theresa Irene Williams

Tina Marie Williams

Ashley E. Woodell



Kim E. Wells



Dana Elizabeth Adams

Emily Elisabeth Dare

Joseph Michael DeNavas

Nancy Cory Gardner

Alison Toepfer Meador

Jennifer Denise Parkerson

Rebecca Ann Ripple

Dennis M. Staff II



Christina Nicole Addicott

Heather Leigh Brooks

Jordon M. DeGennaro

Nicole Saundra Fennelly

Cody Tyler Ford

Dennis James Haspert

Jonathan Robert Henderson

Nicholas E. Malay

William Christopher Marshall

Kirsten Michelle Mettam

Carolyn R. Moore

Jeanette Marie Owens

Brian David Pounsberry

Michele D. Spaulding

Megan C. Villano



Katie Elizabeth Allen

Belinda Barney

Ashley Michelle Berry

Darren Matthew Bivens

Laura Marie Boswell

Jacklyn Michelle Brock

Alyce Beatrice Brown

Margaret E. Cannon

Mable M. Clay

Christina Marie Close

Rachel Lynn Emerson

Megan Elizabeth Garren

Sharon Marie Green

William Jesse Gross

Amanda Faith Hankins

Wendell D. T. Hicks

Suzanne D. Kerill

Leroy William Klasko, Jr.

Brian Andrew Lauver

Elana F. Masincupp

Ronald William Rambo Jr.