West Virginia University’s midyear graduates were urged to “remember to use your hands, your head and most importantly your heart to better yourself and make your mark on the world” during Sunday’s (Dec. 12) annual convocation ceremony at the WVU Coliseum.

“Today marks the completion of your weaving of the gold and blue threads into the tapestry of your life,” keynote speaker and community medicine Professor Ruth Kershner said. “A new chapter begins soon. Today is a combination, up here I can tell you, of both joy and sadness for all of us. We are very excited for you, but we will miss you and so much look forward to seeing where life takes you.”

About 670 graduates listened as Kershner reminded them that “WVU is one of your greatest accomplishments and you will always, always be a member of the Mountaineer family.”

Approximately 7,000 friends and families were present at the event. More than 1,500 students are expected to complete their degrees midyear.

“Here’s the deal: never forget how privileged you are to have a college education and the love and support of people in attendance,” Kershner said. “Continue to give back to others – what you give to others will pale in comparison to what you get back. I guarantee that.”

She encouraged the students to work together as they strive to make a difference in the world.

“Everyone in this room brings to the table different life experiences and values,” she said. “Our responsibility is to search for a larger meeting ground in which we can collaborate with others and dig deep in ourselves to bring out the best in ourselves and dig deep to bring out the best in others. Let that be your legacy.”

She also gave graduates some practical advice. She advised them to clean up their Facebook page; change their e-mail and voicemail to something more professional; turn off their cell phone during job interviews; and “never forget that the arms of the Mountaineers stretch far and wide.”

Kershner teaches both undergraduate and graduate programs in school and public health, and is affiliated with WVU’s Department of Community of Medicine. She is a registered nurse and nationally credentialed health education specialist.

She was recognized as West Virginia’s professor of the year in 2009 as the recipient of the West Virginia Carnegie Award for Teaching. She has also been honored as West Virginia Health Education Teacher of the Year, and she received the Robert C. Byrd School of Medicine Distinguished Teacher Award, West Virginia Health Education Council Innovative Health Programming Award, PATCH Health Advocacy Award and others.

President James P. Clements thanked the many people who helped the students throughout their college careers.

“You are here because you’ve worked hard. You’ve discovered abilities that you didn’t know you had,” he said. “However, you’ve had a lot of help along the way. Your parents, family members and friends kept you going as you worked and waited for this day.”

Recognizing the graduates along with Clements were Provost Michele Wheatly and Associate Provosts Jonathan Cumming and Elizabeth Dooley. The University Choir and WVU Trombone Troupe provided the music.

Diplomas will be mailed to December graduates in January after grades are confirmed with the Office of the University Registrar. Degrees will be conferred on Dec. 28.

To view the archived webcast of the convocation, go to http://decemberconvocation.wvu.edu/webcast.



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