Gulyas Addresses Wor-Wic Graduates
May 17, 2010

During commencement ceremonies for Wor-Wic Community College at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center, Louise L. Gulyas, Worcester County Commissioner and the Worcester County liaison to Wor-Wic’s board of trustees, began her address to the graduates by reassuring them that they have “made the right decision to study at Wor-Wic and, of course, to graduate.”

Gulyas explained that “those who chose to be educated and those who decided to continue their education will have a greater set of opportunities for success in life, in their careers and in business than those who didn’t.

“The modern world is fast-moving,” Gulyas continued. “Graduating from Wor-Wic should be the first step in your lifelong quest: To learn, to learn more, and then to learn even more.

“Although many of you will now begin a second phase of your education, moving on to colleges and universities around the country, others who are today graduating from Wor-Wic will enter the job market,” Gulyas added.

“You now have skills to enter the job market. Now, meet the people who are already there. Meet the leaders in your community. Meet the business and industrial leaders whose decisions will shape your future. A good network of friends and professional contacts is at least as important as your own job skills, but it’s not more important than your own professional reputation for reliability and competence. Cultivate your own job skills, constantly improve your work horizons, and always be curious about what is beyond that horizon.”

Gulyas concluded her remarks by telling the graduates to “remember to look fondly back at your time here at Wor-Wic, and, as your own abilities and careers evolve and progress, always remember Wor-Wic and those of us who helped to make this world-class community college the standard of excellence that it is. And make it a point in your lives to support your alma mater.”

Andrew W. Booth, chairperson of Wor-Wic’s board of trustees, introduced the commencement speaker, members of the board of trustees and other guests on stage. After the commencement address by Gulyas, Dr. Ray Hoy, college president, presented her with a plaque on behalf of the 2010 graduating class.

Dr. Stephen L. Capelli, vice president for academic and student affairs, introduced the student speaker, Maria Curtis of Salisbury, an honors graduate with a 4.0 grade point average (GPA). Curtis was a member of Wor-Wic’s Alpha Nu Omicron chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) international honor society.

Curtis is the executive office associate in the superintendent’s office at the Wicomico County Board of Education (WCBOE). She has worked for the WCBOE for more than 20 years in various administrative associate positions. In addition to being an active member of the Tri-County Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals and the parent advisory committees for Salisbury Middle School and Wicomico High School, Curtis is a worship team leader, youth leader and Sunday school teacher at the Kingdom Community Church in Salisbury. She has two sons, Anthony, 19, who is a general studies student at Wor-Wic, and Alexander, 14.

Addressing her fellow members of the Class of 2010, Curtis reflected on her experiences as a student and took time to thank fellow graduates, family and friends, as well as the administrators, faculty and staff at Wor-Wic.

“For some, tonight represents a culmination,” Curtis said. “For others, it symbolizes a new beginning. For me, however, it signifies the fulfillment of a 24-year-old dream.

“Returning to college has ignited a flame inside me that I once thought would never burn brightly again. My love for reading and for learning has been rekindled.

“Despite our diversity, what do we all have in common?” Curtis continued. “What does the nurse have in common with the accountant and the hotel-restaurant manager with the chemical dependency counselor? How does the 58-year-old married grandmother connect with the 16-year-old dual enrollment student? How does the newly unemployed, middle-aged man communicate with the 34-year-old single mother who is also starting over? Such amazing diversity like this exists in virtually every class at Wor-Wic, but masterful teachers and embracing students prevent anyone from building isolating barriers or being discouraged by intimidating feelings. Clearly, our fields of study and our backgrounds are very different. However, we all share our families, our friends, our future, and most importantly, our foundation.

“We have the capacity to ‘start here and go anywhere.’ And now we also have a responsibility,” she added. “Let us embody the same commitment to excellence that has been modeled for us. Let us maintain this passion for learning for the rest of our lives. We must seek to become agents who foster positive change for our future. We must strive to inspire others to set goals and to achieve them.”

Curtis majored in general studies. She plans to transfer to Salisbury University to major in communications.

General studies was the most popular major among members of the graduating class. Another general studies graduate, Oleksiy “Alek” Katrysh of Salisbury, 24, an honors student with a 3.88 GPA, was recently offered scholarships to Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., and St. John’s College in Annapolis. While at Wor-Wic, he was vice president of scholarship for Wor-Wic’s PTK chapter. He also served as a student ambassador, president of the martial arts club, and as vice president and treasurer of the student government association (SGA). In addition, Katrysh has given more than 150 hours of service as a volunteer at Peninsula Regional Medical Center. Katrysh was recently named to the All-Maryland Academic Team, a competition that recognizes academic excellence and community service of two-year college students sponsored by PTK, the Maryland Association of Community Colleges and the Maryland Council of Community College Chief Executive Officers. His plans are to obtain a bachelor’s degree, in preparation for medical school. He ultimately wants to be a psychiatrist.

One of Wor-Wic’s youngest graduates, Emily Nichols, 19, of Hebron, also received her associate degree in general studies. She started at Wor-Wic in the fall of 2007 as a dual enrolled student from Mardela Middle and High School because she wanted to get a jump start on her general education requirements and determine what she wanted to study. With a 3.78 GPA, she graduated with high honors in December of 2009 and has applied to enroll in Wor-Wic’s nursing program this fall. She plans to graduate from the nursing program in 2012 and transfer into an accelerated bachelor’s degree program in nursing.

The second most popular major was nursing. Matthew Lawson of Crisfield, 43, decided to change careers after many years in retail management. He received an associate degree in nursing and a 3.52 GPA. Lawson plans to work as an acute care nurse while pursuing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing. He said he wants “what I’ve learned here to be the basis of knowledge I can take into the work place to provide citizens with the excellence in health care they deserve.” Lawson was also recently named to the All-Maryland Academic Team. He was one of 12 students to make the first team, and one of 50 students in Maryland to be selected as a Coca-Cola bronze scholar. Lawson received a $1,000 stipend and a medallion from the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. He has been serving as the Delaware/Maryland state president for the PTK Middle States region and vice president of the nursing student organization at Wor-Wic. He also served as vice president of leadership for Wor-Wic’s Alpha Nu Omicron chapter of PTK. Lawson is a volunteer emergency medical technician and a lifetime member of the Lower Somerset Ambulance and Rescue Squad in Crisfield.

Education was the third most popular major for members of this graduating class. U.S. Navy Veteran Jenel Wood of Berlin, 37, graduated with her secondary education transfer associate degree and a 3.4 GPA. She helped form a new Veterans Group at Wor-Wic and served as its first president. She spearheaded events like Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies, as well as Toys for Tots and therapeutic horseback riding for veterans. Wood joined the Navy when she was 17 years old and served for six years. As a U.S. veteran, she volunteers with the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion to help other veterans. She plans to transfer to Salisbury University as a dual major in secondary education and special education. Ultimately, Wood wants to be a science teacher.

Deborah Haines, 41, and her son, Ryan Womer, 21, both of Berlin, received associate degrees in emergency medical services. Mother and son said they enjoyed going to school and studying together. Haines, who earned a 3.6 GPA, said after more than 10 years in retail, she wants to work as a paramedic at a local fire company. She has been a volunteer emergency medical technician (EMT) for 15 years. Womer, who earned a 3.0 GPA, works about five part-time jobs at various ambulance companies on the Eastern Shore, assisting with medical transports. He earned his EMT certification through the Berlin Fire Department, where he volunteers. He enrolled at Wor-Wic to continue learning how to help people when they’re at their worst. He also wants to work full time as a paramedic. Haines’ daughter, Jessica Womer, 18, is dual enrolled at Wor-Wic and Stephen Decatur High School. Another son, Brandon Womer, 19, is a pre-EMS student at Wor-Wic. Haines said that attending Wor-Wic has worked out well financially for her family, with all of them pursuing higher education at the same time.

Lydia Brooks of Salisbury, 63, is one of Wor-Wic’s oldest graduates. After almost 20 years in retail management at Sears, she retired to enroll at Wor-Wic. Having always wanted to work in the medical field, Brooks felt that, at her age, medical transcription would be a good fit. She works part time at Kohl’s in Salisbury and plans to also work from home as a contractual medical transcriptionist. Brooks received a certificate of proficiency in medical transcription with a 2.9 GPA. She plans to stay at Wor-Wic to complete her associate degree in office technology. Brooks also recently inspired her daughter, Lisa Allen of Salisbury, who received her medical transcription certificate from Wor-Wic in 2003, to return to Wor-Wic as a pre-nursing student.

Other graduates received degrees or certificates in accounting, business, chemical dependency counseling, computer studies, criminal justice, electronics, hotel-motel-restaurant management, manufacturing, office technology, radiologic technology or science transfer.

The majority of the graduates were from Salisbury or other parts of Wicomico County, followed by Worcester and Somerset counties. Graduates were also from Dorchester, Caroline, Talbot and other counties in Maryland, as well as from nearby states.

In addition to the speakers, dignitaries seated on stage included members of the college's board of trustees, Velda E. Henry, vice chairperson, D. Gary Boggs, Morgan Hazel and Robert M. Lawrence, all of Salisbury, and Russell W. Blake and William H. Kerbin of Pocomoke City; Wicomico County Executive Richard M. Pollitt Jr. of Allen; members of the Wicomico County Council, Gail M. Bartkovich, president, Sheree Sample-Hughes, vice president, John T. Cannon, David MacLeod and Stevie Prettyman, all of Salisbury, and Joe Holloway of Parsonsburg; and members of the Worcester County Commissioners, Judy Boggs of Berlin, Robert Lee Cowger Jr. of Pocomoke City and Virgil L. Shockley of Snow Hill. Other special guests on stage were Del. Norman H. Conway, D-38B, of Salisbury; and Del. Jim Mathias, D-38B, of Ocean City. Father Todd Kissam, rector at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Salisbury, gave the invocation and benediction.

ON STAGE. Some of the officials seated on stage for Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center are shown, from left, Andrew W. Booth of Salisbury, chairperson of the board of trustees at Wor-Wic; Dr. Ray Hoy of Salisbury, president of the college; Louise L. Gulyas of Ocean City, member of the Worcester County Commissioners, who was the commencement speaker; Judy Boggs of Berlin, a member of the Worcester County Commissioners; Gail M. Bartkovich of Salisbury, president of the Wicomico County Council; and Richard M. Pollitt Jr. of Allen, Wicomico County Executive.

WICOMICO OFFICIALS. Wicomico County officials who attended Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center are shown in the front row, from left: Gail M. Bartkovich, president of the Wicomico County Council, Richard M. Pollitt Jr., Wicomico County Executive, and Sheree Sample-Hughes, vice president of the council. Shown in the back row, from left, are council members John T. Cannon and Joe Holloway, Maria M. Curtis, a general studies graduate and student speaker, and council members David MacLeod and Stevie Prettyman.

WICOMICO GRADUATES. Del. Norman H. Conway, D-38B, of Salisbury, congratulates some of the graduates from Wicomico County who received their associate degrees at Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. From left next to Conway are Oleksiy Katrysh of Salisbury, a general studies graduate, Emily Nichols of Hebron, a general studies graduate, and John Trader of Salisbury, a culinary arts graduate.

FROM NORTHERN WORCESTER. Judy Boggs of Berlin, a member of the Worcester County Commissioners, congratulates some of the graduates from northern Worcester County who received their associate degrees at Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. From left next to Boggs are Julia Bokova of Ocean City, a criminal justice graduate, Jenel Wood of Berlin, an education graduate, and Deborah Haines and her son, Ryan Womer, both of Berlin and emergency medical services graduates.

FROM SOUTHERN WORCESTER. Virgil L. Shockley of Snow Hill and Robert Lee Cowger Jr. of Pocomoke City, members of the Worcester County Commissioners, congratulate some of the graduates from southern Worcester County who received their associate degrees at Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. From left next to Cowger are Nyisha Custis of Pocomoke City, an office technology graduate, Amanda Mumma of Snow Hill, a general studies graduate, and Jamaal Cannon of Stockton, a business graduate.

SOMERSET GRADUATES. Del. Norman H. Conway, D-38B, of Salisbury, congratulates some of the graduates from Somerset County who received their associate degrees at Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. From left next to Conway are Matthew Lawson of Crisfield, a nursing graduate, Krysten Rybyzynske of Crisfield, a science transfer graduate, and Lauren Green of Marion Station, a forensic science graduate.

FROM THE UPPER SHORE. Del. Norman H. Conway, D-38B, of Salisbury, left, congratulates Aretha Woolford of Cambridge, a nursing graduate, at Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE GRADUATE. Julia Bokova of Ocean City, center, is congratulated by Gabrielle Apetroaie, left, and Ludmila Chernova after receiving her criminal justice degree at Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center.

CULINARY GRADUATES. Culinary graduates John Trader III, Michelle Stine and Martha Kamuntu of Salisbury received their associate degrees at Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center.

FAMILY CELEBRATES. Mother and daughter Dawn and Ariel Thompson, both of Sharptown, celebrate with grandson and son, Jude Lobus, after receiving their general studies degrees at Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center.

NURSING GRADUATE. Cofeia Addison of Hurlock, celebrates with her sons, shown from left, Dion, Tyrese and Malik, after receiving her certificate in nursing at Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center.

DEGREES AWARDED. From left, Brianna McKinley of Marion Station, a general studies graduate, Amy Mitschke of Salisbury, an education graduate, and Danielle Molock of Salisbury, a nursing graduate, are all smiles after receiving their associate degrees at Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center.

COUNSELING GRADUATE. Kenesha Taylor of Salisbury, enjoys refreshments with her daughter, Keniyah Norman, after receiving her chemical dependency counseling degree at Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center.

GENERAL STUDIES GRADUATE. Lykesha Mapp of Salisbury gets a big hug from her son, Jhairen Morgan, after receiving her general studies degree at Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center.

HONORS GRADUATES. Wor-Wic Community College honors program graduates from Wicomico County included, from left in the front row, Nicole Bata, Shaina Boyd, Maria Curtis, Elma Beth Fontaine and Shelby Hairston. In the second row from left, are Martha Kamuntu, Oleksiy Katrysh, Amy Mitschke, John Trader III and Blair Travers.