ST. CLAIRSVILLE Ohio University's Eastern Campus honored graduates, scholarship recipients, student leaders and special guests at the Honors and Recognition Convocation Friday evening, April 28 at the Health and Physical Education Center in St. Clairsville.
Eastern Campus Dean Paul Abraham welcomed the 63 graduates and honorees. He was followed by the student speaker, Ms. Danica Wharton, and keynote speaker, Mr. Ben Porter.
"Tonight's event represents a critical rite of passage for our students who have persevered through many hours of study, exams, and paper writing to reach their goal of completing a degree," Abraham said. "It is a momentous and hard-to-reach accomplishment, which bookmarks a critical juncture in life. Simply put, this convocation marks the beginning of a new horizon for our graduates who will leave here tonight with the sense of optimism that higher education provides."
Wharton, a member of the 2017 graduating class, earned a bachelor's of science degree in health services administration, and will begin graduate studies this fall at West Virginia University in pursuit of a master's degree in public administration. The Union Local grad was very active during her four years at OUE. She served as President of the Rotaract Club, Secretary of the College Republicans, and was a member of the Bobcat Ambassadors. Wharton was also employed on campus in the Student Services department, the Media Center, and as an Accounting and Finance Tutor.
"I am so thankful for the opportunity to attend and complete an Ohio University degree at the Eastern Campus," said Wharton. "My college experiences were filled with high levels of involvement, networking and multiple internships, which helped me to become the person I am today. But, even more important, I have gained lasting relationships with faculty and staff who have supported me in all of my endeavors."
Wharton continued, "These connections are what makes the Eastern Campus special. The community is filled with truly wonderful, down to earth professionals, who have one goal in mind, and that is to help our students succeed. Our time here has value, our experiences are unique, and you can never put a price tag on that. As a result, I will always be a strong supporter and advocate of the Eastern Campus."
She finished, "My overall goal is to be a driving force in healthcare in my community and I encourage my fellow graduates to also think about their goals, and strive to reach them, because we owe it not only to ourselves, but to this campus and our community. I am driven to be an example of what this institution and area has to offer, and hope through my career, I can take what I have learned and apply it to this community because it has done so much for me. I will be forever grateful for the relationships and time I have spent on this campus."
Keynote speaker Ben Porter graduated from Union Local High School in 1993. The Morristown native earned a bachelor's of science degree in education from Ohio University in 1998 and a master's degree in educational administration from California University of Pennsylvania in 2012. Porter completed the majority of his undergraduate studies and also participated in men's basketball at the Eastern Campus before finishing in Athens. He later went on to serve as the OUE men's basketball coach for a few years, winning the Ohio Regional Campus Conference championship in 2006.
Porter is currently the superintendent of the highly-regarded Union Local School District. Under his leadership, Union Local and Ohio University Eastern have formed a strong partnership, working closely with one another to benefit education majors with field experiences, professional internships and other programs. Porter was also recognized recently for taking on the role of interim principal at UL Middle School without pay, saving the district a significant administrative salary in the process.
"I am truly honored to be back at my alma mater addressing you today," he said. "It is humbling to have a chance to give back, ever so slightly, to a university that has given me so much."
Porter then addressed the graduates. "Everyone in this room is capable of being a leader and leaders have the power to change the world. Rest assured, you will be met with all sorts of challenges. Meet these challenges head on and hold yourself to higher standards. No matter the situation, always work as hard as you can, be kind to others, and be disciplined in your choices."
Porter finished, "The diploma you are about to receive is more than a piece of paper. It is more than the culmination of years of hard work. That degree is your ticket to pursue your dreamswhether you continue your education or enter into your work field. It is your first step to making yourself a better you, and your community a better place to live. Congratulations and best of luck on your journey."
Dean Abraham then announced that Denise Penz has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the Austin C. Furbee award, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to Ohio University and the community.
"It is my honor to recognize Denise Penz, as the Austin C. Furbee award recipient," said Abraham. "Denise was the founder of Premier Bank & Trust, which has recently been incorporated into Home Savings Bank, where she has been named the Executive Director of Wealth Management. Before getting into the banking industry, Denise proudly served our country in the Navy."
Abraham continued, "Denise has been a champion on our community foundation board for the last several years and has played a key role in the development of our 60th Anniversary Campaign and upcoming Gala. Through her leadership, the bank provided a significant early scholarship donation for our 60th Anniversary Fund that will benefit local students for many years to come. She is also very active in our community and her selection for the Austin C. Furbee Award is a well-deserved recognition of her many contributions to Ohio University, the community, and region."
Abraham concluded the ceremony by congratulating this year's candidates on earning their Ohio University degrees. "Graduates, I feel confident that we are sending you into the world inspired to make a difference and with more courage and confidence than when you first came through our doors a few short years ago. Congratulations to all of you on a job well done."
Outstanding Bachelor of Applied Management Student - Samuel Nardo
Outstanding Early Childhood Education Student - Kaylee Decesare
Outstanding Middle Childhood Education Student - Zoe Buccella
Outstanding Physiology of Exercise Student - Lynsey Beros
Outstanding Social Work Student - Lacie Stull
Editors of Eastern Zeitgeist - Campus Arts Magazine - Zoe Buccella, Ellen Scheid
OUE 2017 Graduation List
Associate in Arts: Abbey DeLong, Saint Clairsville; Rachel Horn, Thornville; Tiffany Johnson, Wheeling; Martina Marko, Bloomingdale; Leah Wharton, Bethesda; Rainer Whiteside, Saint Clairsville
Associate in Science: Danica Wharton, Bethesda
Bachelor of Arts: Kevin Balk, Rayland; Hannah Johns, Amsterdam; Mitchell Moore, Bethesda; David Wilson, Bethesda; Nickolas Wittenbrook, Belmont
Bachelor of Criminal Justice: Timothy Hess, Cambridge;
Bachelor of Science in Applied Management: Lee Ackerman, Martins Ferry; Abbey DeLong, Saint Clairsville; Samuel Nardo, Belmont; Patricia Shreve, Woodsfield; Susan Slevin, Maynard; Eric Stephens, Woodsfield; Kyle Sutphin, Brilliant; Giselle Wells, Barnesville; Leah Wharton, Bethesda; Rainer Whiteside, Saint Clairsville
Bachelor of Science in Communication: Jessica Ellis, Rayland; Kyle Sutphin, Brilliant
Bachelor of Science in Education: Zoe Buccella, Barnesville; Kaylee Decesare, Dillonvale; Tierany Duncan, Shadyside; Amanda Funari, Martins Ferry; Mark Gingerich, Barnesville; Molly Knox, St. Clairsville; Cassady Lohr, Woodsfield; Michelle Maffe, Bellaire; Dawn Pagels, Wheeling
Bachelor of Science in Health: Elliott Albert, Bridgeport; Ciera Crosby, Bellaire; Sandra Holyak, Adena; Randa Imhoff, Powhatan Point; Lauren May, Shadyside; Katie Parkinson, Cadiz; Danica Wharton, Bethesda
Bachelor of Science in Physiology of Exercise: Lynsey Beros, Senecaville; Matthew Burke, Beallsville; Victoria Clark, Woodsfield; Fabio Cracolici, Saint Clairsville; Demitra Habig, Beallsville; Nicole Materkoski, Saint Clairsville; Kaitlin Miller, Woodsfield; Karley Mizer, Cadiz
Bachelor of Science in Sport and Lifestyle Studies: Brandon Fiutem, Saint Clairsville; Eric Stephens, Woodsfield
Bachelor of Social Work: Brandi Baker, Bellaire; Kayla Carnes, Saint Clairsville; Spencer Lloyd, Saint Clairsville; Lindsay Sambuco, Rayland; Lacie Stull, Shadyside
Bachelor of Specialized Studies: Dustin Gellner, Moundsville; Ryan Jarvie, St. Clairsville; Ellen Scheid, Bridgeport; Mary Kay Sly, Middlefield; Donald Watson, New Athens; Jeremy Wright, Wheeling
Bachelor of Technical and Applied Studies: Daniel Hill, Logan