CSM Observes 57th Spring Commencement

College Awards 882 Degrees, Certificates to Spring Class of 2016

The College of Southern Maryland celebrated 560 candidates for 882 degrees and certificates during its 57th spring commencement ceremony held May 19 at the La Plata Campus.

“The 2016 spring graduating class is our largest ever,” said CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried. “When you think about our nation, and the melting pot that is our nation, think about community colleges because we are where America comes-all ages, so many nationalities, races, individuals who have special challenges-they come to our college because they know that we can help them to be successful. I'd like to believe that it's not just the low cost, not just the convenience, it's that we care deeply about [our students].”

CSM awarded 602 associate degrees and 280 certificates: 40 percent of the students receiving awards were from Charles County, 33 percent from St. Mary's County and 21 percent from Calvert County with 6 percent from outside of the region.

Associate degrees were awarded predominantly in the fields of general studies, nursing, arts and sciences, and business administration, while general studies: transfer, and general studies accounting: basic and advanced were the most predominant certificates. Of the graduates, 65 percent were female. The ages of this spring's associate degree candidates ranged from 17 to 63.


Youngest Graduate Samuel J. Peter

The youngest candidate for graduation is Samuel Peter, 17, of Cobb Island, who earned an associate degree in general studies.  


Oldest Graduate Shirley Jasper

The most senior graduate is Shirley Jasper, 63, of White Plains, who earned an associate degree in accounting.

Jasper said that she has had a lifelong journey toward a college degree and that she is not finished yet. “My message is to never give up; never feel that you can't do something that you really want to do.”

Following high school in New Jersey, Jasper attended Essex County College in Newark and then Kean University, always working to pay for classes and having to stop when finances did not allow her to afford tuition. After moving to Maryland in the early 1990s, Jasper started taking courses at CSM and later began working as a student assistant in the college's payroll department.

“I received so much encouragement from my co-workers and from professors,” said Jasper. When not working or studying, Jasper writes poetry and has been published. She is going to take a short break before continuing to pursue a degree in human resources management at the University of Maryland University College.

“I will never retire and will never sit still,” Jasper said of her desire to stay active. “Age is a number and it only applies if you let it.”


Student Speaker

James Edward “Eddie” Bowie, 33, of Hughesville told his fellow graduates, “No matter where you started, no matter how long it took you to get here, no matter how many twists, turns and bumps you faced along the way, congratulations.” 

Bowie started his academic career at High Point University right after high school but did not complete his degree. He spent time working alongside his father in their fresh produce distribution business, worked at a golf course and had several jobs working as a waiter before deciding that he wanted a career that would give him a more promising future. He chose engineering, enrolled in CSM and worked his way from developmental math to Calculus II. He was accepted into the STEM Scholar Program, worked as a physics lab student assistant and has recently learned that he was accepted into a very competitive summer internship with the Navy. He will continue his studies in mechanical engineering at the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland this fall.


Keynote Speaker

The keynote speaker was J. Blacklock Wills Jr., chairman, president and CEO of The Wills Group, Inc. The Wills Group, celebrating its 90th year, started with two engineers, Jim Wills and Harold Swann, and eight employees in 1926 as Southern Maryland Oil and has locally grown through the years into the parent company with 306 employees and four business subsidiaries: Dash-In Convenience Stores, SMO Motor Fuels, SMO Energy and Potomac Energy Holdings LLC. The largest marketer of Shell products in the country, the company was ranked 14th on the 2014 listing of The Washington Post's 200 largest private companies in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Last week, the company was recognized as a Best in Class Employer by Avatar, for its Employee Engagement program.

Wills focused his remarks on the pace of change in today's environment and the need for continuous learning. “Individual skill development is key in today's economy. If you don't keep up, you'll become obsolete. Growing up, we used to have the option to change, now we have the requirement to change just to survive,” Wills told the audience.


Honorary Degree

            The Honorable Barbara Mikulski, senior U.S. senator from Maryland and the longest-serving woman in the history of Congress was presented an honorary degree from CSM.                        “In 1986 when she was elected to the U.S. Senate she became the first woman elected to that office from the state of Maryland. We salute Senator Mikulski for her strong support of community colleges, her commitment to quality education has advanced the Southern Maryland region-especially STEM programs, expanding access to Pell grants, strengthening our military bases, and leading the drive for an innovative economy,” said CSM Trustee Chair Dorothea Smith. Accepting the honorary degree was one of Mikulski's senior staff members, Rachel Jones.


Annual Faculty Excellence Award Honoring Permanent Faculty

The Annual Faculty Excellence Award Honoring Permanent Faculty was presented to Tara McManaway, professor and coordinator of the massage therapy program, by Michael Green, CSM faculty senate president and economics professor.

“Through Professor McManaway's leadership of the massage therapy program and her innovative approach to massage education, CSM graduates are well prepared to successfully apply business principles and advocate for professional massage practice while providing holistic client care,” said CSM Health Sciences Chair Dr. Laura Polk about the selection of McManaway for the award.

“A recent example of Professor McManaway's creativity is the design of a collaborative experience between massage and nursing students during behavioral health and end-of-life simulations. Each group of students came away with a new perspective of the value of touch when working with these vulnerable populations. As a result of such visionary teaching, the massage therapy program graduates consistently attain a 100 percent pass rate on all licensing exams. In addition, two students in the past four years have won national contests sponsored by professional massage associations. These accomplishments are a testament to Professor McManaway's commitment to the CSM massage therapy program,” said Polk.


Nursing Recognition Ceremony

            During the nursing recognition ceremony held earlier in the day, Ana C. Malini, of Great Mills, was recognized with the Academic Achievement in Nursing Award, given to the graduate with the highest grade point average in the nursing class. Samuel A. Griffith, of California, 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 58 students.


Honors Reception

At the college's May 18 Honors Reception, Divisional awards were presented to the following students: Faculty Senate Scholarship, Kaylah J. Crosier, Nkemdiche N. Elele, Afton A. Hauer, Anna Kendall, Catherine M. Saoud, Barbara Sheldon and Rusha Shrestha; 2016 All-Maryland Community College Academic Team, Mallory N. Haselberger, Stephanie L. Hayes, Joseph W. Turner and Robert B. Wilson; George Flynn Memorial Accounting Award, Carly N. Robinson; Outstanding Engineering Technology Student, William J. Reed II; Outstanding Hospitality Student, Alexandra E. Bush; Outstanding Information Services Technology Student, Melissa A. Lauber; Outstanding Information Systems Security & Cyber Security Student, Cassie V. White; Outstanding Management Development Student, David M. Coppins-Crump; Outstanding Nuclear Engineering Technology Student, Brandon E. Lent; Outstanding Business Administration Student, Elizabeth Soens; Outstanding Computer Science Student, Tumie C. Hurd IV; Distinguished Honors in History, Vincent P. Turner II; Outstanding Art Student of the Year, Selene A. La Marca; Distinguished Honors in Music, George T. Adamson; Outstanding Physical Therapist Assistant Graduate, Cassondra M. Nicholson; Outstanding Medical Laboratory Technology Graduate, Angela D. Thetford; Outstanding Massage Therapy Graduate, Elizabeth M. Landmann; John Lamiman Writing Award, Halie E. Danielson; Outstanding Engineering Student, James E. Bowie; Outstanding Physics Student, Chad A. Baker; Outstanding Mathematics Student, Rodrigo Arce Palomino; Outstanding Progress in Mathematics, Kimberly A. Campbell; Achievement in Early Childhood Development, Constance A. Sullivan; Outstanding Achievement in Criminal Justice, Sabrina T. Scott; Outstanding Achievement in Homeland Security, Annie Mendoza-Rojas; Outstanding Achievement in the Social Sciences Award, Timon Lee and Outstanding Academic Achievement in Teacher Education, Michelle A. Puckett.



            For photos from the ceremony, visit http://csmphoto.zenfolio.com/2016maygraduation.


2016 Spring Commencement Candidates for Graduation


The following students were recognized as candidates for associate degrees, certificates or letters of recognition at the 57th Spring Commencement ceremony:


Anne Arundel County


Anila M. Howard



Darby J. DeJarnette



Erica Feneisha Dispenza

Jeffrey S. Hennessey


Baltimore County

Middle River

Austin Thomas Stewart


Calvert County

Chesapeake Beach

Leanne E. Anderson

Christina Marie Cheeks

Halie Elizabeth Danielson

Tracey Lynn Dickens

Stephanie Grace Puakealona Dowell

David L. Friese Jr.

Sean L. Meehan

Nicole Elizabeth Stewart

Valeria Angelica Padilla

Constance Annette Sullivan

Lynsey D. Valkos

William Donald Varner III



Carla Schafer Zinn



Jessica Marie Mooney

Brittany Nicole Rivera



Lauren Ashley Adams

Anthony Luis Aranda

Allen C. Belisario

Jenny Kay Brewer

Henry Lloyd Christensen

Brianne C. Cleary

Jarret M. Daniels

Leah Marie Demarco

Sara Yalis Farahani

Carl Lee Freeman

Megan Christine Hemmer

Morgan Victoria Hensley

Kristina Victoria Holloway

Jason J Lohr

Trent C. McKinney

Jehryco Vitug Miranda

LaKeysha C. Ray

Alexander J. Robinson

Carly Nicole Robinson

Sarah Machell Whitehair

Lisa Renee Wood



Kimberly L. Alston

Mary Louise Atkins

Courtney Nicole Badeaux-Hamm

Gloria Ashley Bates

Ericx Yashua Bey

Courtney E. Blankenship

Emily Rachel Boylan

Kimberly Ann Campbell

Erica Lynn Drumheller

Charlene Renee' Edwards

Abbie Rose Fahnestock

Angelica Marie George

James E. Godbold III

Tyria Crashawn Grayton

Breyah Chaunice Hall

Alcides Huertas

Ciara D. Long

Samuel Morgan Lusby

Kimberly Susan McLaughlin

Sherri L. Salmon

Myranda Grace Shymansky

Jennifer Kathryn Smith

Lori Ann Smith

Breanna D. Stack

Kelsey Nicole Stack

Rachel Lynn Tucker

Allison Stephanie Vaulina

Rian LeeAnn Waters

Dayna Morgen Whitehouse

Sonya M. Woodburn

Christy L. Young


North Beach

McKenzie Rae Johnson

Erika Christine Lee

Dylan Orion Mullikin

Owen R. Mullikin

Kelly Risette Peterson



Emily Tilynn Bebee

Jessie M. Clemons

Andrew David Graham