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Having their say; Appalachian graduates speak during commencement

BOONE—Seven Appalachian State University graduates spoke during commencement ceremonies on Dec. 16. Some spoke of the support they had received from faculty and fellow students, and the exciting opportunities facing them.

Here’s what each had to say:

Meredith Curcio, bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies

“I am a former college drop out. I started as an undergraduate in the fall of 1995. By the winter of 1999 I was still clueless of where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do with my life and, more importantly, the kind of person I wanted to be. So I left ASU to figure that out.”

Curcio worked for members of the U.S. Congress for six years before returning to complete her degree.

“I knew I would never be truly happy until I admitted my mistake of not graduating to those closest to me, and come back to finish my degree. At age 31, I am finally getting that elusive bachelor’s degree. The faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences welcomed me back, became my friends and helped me to overcome my fear of failing once again.

Today, the public seems to treat graduating from college much like graduating from high school used to be. It is something everyone must do and it is nothing special. Don’t let yourself believe that too. No matter what your GPA is, what your major is, and whether or not you have any clue at all what you want to do after you leave here today, remember that what you have accomplished is not easy.”

Faye Corregan-Flippin, master’s degree in communication disorders

“From day one at Appalachian, I felt I was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. This program has been challenging and difficult, and rewarding and fulfilling. My professors and clinical educators provided just the right balance of academic instruction, a solid foundation of knowledge, followed by opportunities for application of that knowledge and the fostering critical thinking skills and clinical decision-making skills – all of this within a supportive and encouraging environment. What student could ask for more? Without the hard work and dedication of the faculty and staff in the communication disorders program, I would not be able to face the beginning of my career with confidence.”

Amanda Watkins, bachelor’s degree in elementary education

“It is exciting to be able to say today that we have achieved a goal that we set for ourselves when we entered college—to graduate. Today we join the 25 percent of Americans who have college degrees. I also looked at some of the accomplishments of our class in collaboration with the rest of the student body. We have had many successes besides academic success. In the past three years, we have completed over 200,000 hours worth of volunteer work. We put together an average of 75 meals per day through the ACT Office and the local Hunger Coalition, which is almost 20,000 meals a year.”

Mary C. Speight, bachelor’s degree in music education

“For each and every time I said I can’t, there has always been a voice to tell me yes you can. The strongest of these voices have come from the professors I have come across as a student in the Hayes School of Music. Several of these leaders have seen me at my lowest hours, always believing in me when I did not believe in myself. I give them all credit for any success I may achieve as a musician and as a teacher.”

Teressa G. Cameron, master’s degree in child development/birth-kindergarten

“The friendships and relationships we developed with neighbors and classmates teach us to accept people for who they are – imperfections and all. Recognizing our limitations as well as our capabilities makes us more accepting and compassionate individuals.”

Clayton R. Quamme, bachelor’s degree in economics

“Before attending Appalachian State University, I had heard about the Appalachian Family. It’s a simple concept that everyone, including the administrators, professors and even housekeepers cares about students. Why do people at Appalachian care so much? Because of the same reason all of our family, friends and professors are gathered here today. We are their legacy and they believe in us.”

Jamarl D. Clark, bachelor’s degree in communication

“I am not the same young man that entered the doors of Appalachian State University (as a freshman), and I want the Class of 2007 to know that you have been prepared for your future, too.

We, the Class of 2007, must continue to raise our voices to the mountaintop about issues that our society faces in the 21st century.”