CSM Observes 56th Spring Commencement

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College Awards 941 Degrees, Certificates to Spring Class of 2015

The College of Southern Maryland celebrated 602 candidates for 941 degrees and certificates during its 56th spring commencement ceremony held May 21 at the La Plata Campus.

“Our students inspire me,” said CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried to students and guests attending the commencement ceremony. “They truly are an inspiration, not only to me but to our faculty and staff and certainly to all of you who know them, know their challenges and know their sacrifices. I want to recognize them. We understand that this is not an easy journey; that they have to sacrifice and we support them and we celebrate all of their achievements.”

CSM awarded 659 associate degrees and 282 certificates: 45 percent of the students receiving awards were from Charles County, 27 percent from St. Mary’s County and 25 percent from Calvert County with 3 percent from outside of the region.

Associate degrees were awarded predominantly in the fields of general studies, nursing, business administration, and arts and sciences, while general studies: transfer, and general studies accounting: basic and advanced were the most predominant certificates. Of the graduates, 70 percent were female. The ages of this spring’s associate degree candidates ranged from 17 to 68.


Youngest Graduate Lydia Kivrak

The youngest candidate for graduation, Lydia Kivrak, 17, of Bryans Road, who earned an associate degree in arts and sciences: math and physical sciences with highest honors will be attending California Institute of Technology this fall. Kivrak said that she has been interested in science for as long as she could remember. “My grandfather worked at NASA and passed away when I was young but I remember him calling me a ‘smart cookie’ and encouraging me when I expressed interest in science,” said Kivrak. It was CSM Professor Eleazer Ekwue’s course in physics that piqued her interest in pursuing physics or astrophysics for a bachelor’s degree, she said.


Oldest Graduate Carolyn Walker

The most senior graduate is Carolyn Walker, 68, of Waldorf, who earned an associate degree in hospitality management with honors.

A retired U.S. Navy chief, Walker served as an administrative, budget and supply officer with the U.S. Ceremonial Guard among other assignments, Walker began her studies at CSM in 2013 along with her husband who was also retired from the Navy. Both joined the college’s veteran’s organization as well as other community veteran groups as a way of continuing to serve their fellow service members, Walker said.

Her mantra, Walker said, is to “Love life and believe in yourself.”


Student with Disabilities

Jamie Cusick, of Hughesville, graduated with an associate degree in criminal justice with highest honors. Cusick was born with a neuro-muscular disorder. As a high school student and in her first years of college, she required little assistance in class or in completing schoolwork. As the disorder has progressed, so has her need for assistance from CSM’s Disability Support Services and a team of scribes and support staff. Focusing on her life’s passions rather than her disorder has been her way of dealing with the discomfort, fatigue and uncertainty that each day brings, Cusick said.  


Family Graduates

            Twins Carly and Corrine Penny, 19, of La Plata, first came to CSM as high school students through the college’s Educational Talent Search Program which introduces students with academic potential to higher education. Over the years, thousands of Charles County students have completed the program with nearly 98 percent of those students pursing college degrees. The Pennys earned associate degrees in business administration and will transfer to Towson University this fall.

            Siblings, Bailey and Sarah McCoy of St. Leonard shared their commencement evening with family that included their mother Melissa McCoy, who is a current business administration major at CSM. Bailey McCoy, 23, who served in the Army National Guard, earned an associate degree in general studies: criminal justice and will pursue a bachelor’s degree in the future. Sarah McCoy, 20, earned an associate degree in history with highest honors and will transfer to St. Mary’s College of Maryland in the fall. She said that teachers at Calvert High School sparked her interest in history.


Student Athletes

               James Day, 21, of Leonardtown, captain of CSM’s men’s basketball team for two seasons, graduated with an associate degree in business administration with high honors. During Honor’s Convocation, May 20, Day earned the Outstanding Business Student of the Year Award. He will transfer to NCAA Division II Bluefield State College, in West Virginia with both athletic and academic scholarships.

               Taylor Superior, of Leonardtown, provided the evening’s student perspective, saying that by choosing CSM she enjoyed a wonderful college experience. Superior was a two-sport student-athlete at CSM, playing soccer and basketball. As a sophomore Taylor earned National Junior College First Team All-American—the highest award a women’s soccer player can receive individually. She is the first women’s soccer player in CSM history to earn this award. Taylor has received an athletic scholarship to the University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB).


Keynote Speaker Tony Penny

The keynote speaker was WAVA Assistant Producer Tony Penny, a 1994 graduate of CSM. Penny is the special assistant to Dr. David Anderson, CEO of the diversity consulting firm The BridgeLeader Network and the founder and senior pastor of Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia, Maryland. Penny serves as the assistant producer of Anderson’s “Real Talk with Dr. David Anderson” radio show.

As a member of BridgeLeader Network, Penny taught and facilitated discussion on the principles of racial reconciliation and multicultural effectiveness in Kenya, throughout the Middle East, New York City, Los Angeles, Ferguson, Missouri, and most recently, in Baltimore.

            “My hope and my prayer for you is that you live a life of passion and a life that is lived ‘on purpose,’” he told graduates attending the ceremony. Humility, optimism, perseverance and enthusiasm, spelling out HOPE, Penny believes, are the four key ingredients to living a life of passion and purpose. For more on Penny, visit http://www.csmd.edu/news/archive/2015/406b05cf943a2b80a64f475afcfb475fc530e134.html.


Annual Faculty Excellence Award Honoring Permanent Faculty

The Annual Faculty Excellence Award Honoring Permanent Faculty was presented to Technical and Industrial Studies Professor Bernice Brezina by CSM Faculty Senate President and Economics Professor Michael Green.

“Professor Brezina is a leader among the faculty in incorporating the latest technology into teaching. She explored and refined techniques to enhance student learning by using video in online, web hybrid and traditional classroom coursessaid Green.

Brezina is a 1983 graduate of CSM. After earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Maryland College Park, Brezina began working at CSM as a part-time mathematics instructor. As a professor, she has taught across the multiple disciplines of information technology, engineering technology, manufacturing technology and drafting.


Nursing Recognition Ceremony

            During the nursing recognition ceremony held earlier in the day, Rebecca Rynders, of Waldorf, was recognized with the Academic Achievement in Nursing Award, given to the graduate with the highest grade point average in the nursing class. Jennifer Street, of La Plata, was recognized with the Achievement in Nursing Award, presented to the graduate who demonstrates academic achievement, clinical competence, community service and leadership potential. This spring’s nursing program graduated 48 students.


Honors Convocation

Nearly one-fourth of all candidates for graduation achieved academic honors. At the college’s May 20 Honors Convocation, 31 students were recognized for achieving highest honors (3.9-4.0 GPA), 35 for high honors (3.75-3.89 GPA) and 70 for honors (3.5 to 3.74 GPA).

            Divisional awards were presented to the following students: Outstanding Computer Science Student, Seunghun “Jake” Kim; Outstanding Information Services Technology Student, Kyle H. Baker; George Flynn Memorial Accounting Award, Jeremy R. Snyder; Outstanding Business Administration Student, James. M. Day; Outstanding Management Development Student, Kimberly A. Fisher, Freshman Chemistry Award, Ryan Songy; Excellence in Chemistry Award, Kenneth W. Parker; Distinguished Honors in History, Noelle Thompson Worthington; Outstanding Art Student of the Year, Alan J. Frampton; Walter Grove II Memorial Art Scholarship, Nataline N. Beckley and Selene A. La Marca; Distinguished Honors in Music, Jenna D. Walton; COSMIC Symphony Music Scholarship, James L. Martin Jr.; Academic Achievement in Nursing, Rebecca Rynders; Achievement in Nursing, Jennifer C. Street; Outstanding Physical Therapist Assistant Graduate, Miranda N. Stauffer; Outstanding Medical Laboratory Technology Graduate, Sunny A. Schemery; Outstanding Physics Student, Connor S. Taylor; Outstanding Engineering Student, Kirstin D. Moore; Outstanding Mathematics Student, Alexander L. Ragland; Mathematics Progress Award, James E. Bowie; Outstanding Achievement in the Social Sciences Award, Darius A. Butler; Outstanding Academic Achievement in Teacher Education, Caitlin Dieguez; Outstanding Achievement in Criminal Justice, Stephanie N. Appleby; Outstanding Achievement in Homeland Security, Debra L. Brown and Outstanding Academic Achievement in Early Childhood Development, Gwendolyn Y. Kelly. Students receiving Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) Certificates included Jesse B. Hastings, David M. Butler, Lauren M. Kellough, Daniel J. Sadosky Jr., Rachel L. Tresler, Christopher R. Allahiari, Karen A. Carberry and Alessia M. Parks.


To download photos and captions from Honors Convocation, Nursing Recognition and Commencement, visit http://csmphoto.zenfolio.com/15gradmedia.


The following students at the College of Southern Maryland are candidates for degrees or certificates from the 56th spring commencement held May 21 at the La Plata Campus.


Calvert County


Broomes Island

Robert William Denton


Chesapeake Beach

Antonio Carlos Allen

Julie Marie Blum

Tyler John Boito

Nicole Marie Eaton

Miranda Leigh Gatto

Anna Olexandrivna Isaienko

Amanda K. Mackey

Hannah Morgan Magallanes

Ryan Kennedy St. Laurent

Madeline Elizabeth Stedman

Alexandra Nicole Thomas

Richard D. Williams



Melissa Ann Gross



Jason Reid Armstrong

Debra Lynn Brown

Sarah Elizabeth Gerlach

Tina Marie Henderson

Tamy Ichiy

Marion Lindstrom

Sean Thomas McCafferty



Tyler J. Arnstein

Morgan Lee Beahm

Brody T. Bowen

Meghan C. Burroughs

Rachel Lawanna Byrd

Brianna Nicole Collins

Tiffany Ann Cramer

Lindsay R. Crum

Sara Yalis Farahani

Ernest E. Fletcher III

Scott Nicholas Gagliardi

Matthew Reuben Hogenson

Darrin Linwood Holland Jr.

Kelly Eljarro Jones

Russell James Kay

Brittany Marie Kelly

Peter Robert Klausner

Hillary Elaine Marnane

Alicia Hill Mayner