Project Healing Waters Founder to be Keynote Speaker at CSM’s 16th Winter Commencement Jan. 15

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The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) will recognize candidates for degrees and certificates during its 16th Winter Commencement Jan. 15 at the La Plata Campus. A keynote address will be provided by retired Navy Capt. Ed Nicholson, founder and president of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military personnel and disabled veterans.

After graduating from the University of North Carolina in 1964, Nicholson received a commission as an ensign. He served on seven ships including a tour as commander of a destroyer and a tour as commander of a frigate. Nicholson attended the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California, served a tour as a Riverine Advisor in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, attended the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island where he earned a master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Studies, and commanded Naval Ordnance Station Indian Head.

Nicholson retired from the Navy with more than 30 years of service. Following retirement, he worked for Applied Ordinance Technologies in Waldorf.

The genesis for PHWFF came in 2005 during a stay at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where Nicholson saw the returning wounded from the conflict in Iraq. A desire to offer a fun outing to recovering injured and wounded service members blossomed into a program that includes not only those seeking medical care at Walter Reed, but to other disabled veterans at military and veterans hospitals in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

In recognition of PHWFF’s work, Nicholson was selected by the cable network as a CNN Hero in 2009. He was honored as a recipient of the Purpose Prize in 2013 and was recognized by “Field and Stream Magazine” with a Hero of Conservation Award last March.

His keynote will be part of winter commencement activities Jan. 15. CSM’s Nursing Recognition Ceremony will be at 1 p.m. in the Physical Education (PE) Center on the La Plata Campus with a reception immediately following on the upper level of the PE Center. The Winter Commencement Ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the PE Center and tickets are required. Ticketholders are encouraged to arrive at least 30 minutes before the ceremony begins. Doors will close when the procession begins, and guests without tickets or arriving after the doors close  may view the ceremony from the Fine Arts (FA) Center which will carry a live streaming broadcast. A reception immediately following commencement will be in the Center for Business and Industry (BI), Chaney Enterprises Conference Room BI-113.

In the event of inclement weather, a decision will be announced and posted at if commencement activities will be held the following day, Jan. 16. Graduates and guests may also call the inclement weather hotline at 301-369-1999 or 800-650-4023.  

The safety of CSM students, guests and employees is of utmost importance. CSM will conduct bag checks at commencement, and all individuals may be subject to a bag check before entry. CSM Public Safety officials encourage guests to leave large secondary bags, diaper bags and backpacks in their vehicles or at home as these will be subject to the bag check process at the door.

For information on commencement, visit