Mathias addresses Wor-Wic graduates
May 13, 2011

During commencement ceremonies for Wor-Wic Community College at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center, Maryland Senator James N. "Jim" Mathias Jr. spoke about how his own experience as a community college student helped him discover his career path and become the first person in his family to graduate from college.

“In a brief way and hopefully memorable way, I’ll leave you with my memoirs regarding how fundamentally important a community college was and still is to me and really became my guiding light,” Mathias said.

Mathias, who got his start at Catonsville Community College, which is now Community College of Baltimore County, talked about how at first he was a “back of the classroom student” who was “preoccupied with many, many things other than really what I was there to do.” While taking a course in municipal government, however, he became “riveted” and discovered his educational and career path in politics. He transferred to the University of Maryland Baltimore County and became “the first Mathias to ever graduate from college.

“What you’ve learned here in the last two years in criminal justice, in nursing, in general education, is really going to make Maryland and the Eastern Shore even greater than it is today,” Mathias told the graduates. “I have great faith in you. I believe in you…. I know you’re going to take us to some of the greatest endeavors and some of our greatest accomplishments we’ve ever achieved.”

Mathias ended his remarks by saying, “just as a community college was my guiding light,…I know Dr. Hoy, all of our doctors, professors and friends have certainly been and will continue to be your guiding light. I ask you, please, please, show us the way….Keep this Eastern Shore of Maryland a great place to live.”

Velda E. Henry, vice 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 Sen. Mathias, Dr. Ray Hoy, college president, presented him with a plaque on behalf of the 2011 graduating class.

Dr. Stephen L. Capelli, vice president for academic and student affairs, introduced the student speaker, Michelle Malinger of Wenona, an honors graduate with a 4.0 grade point average (GPA). She was a member of Wor-Wic’s Alpha Nu Omicron chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) international honor society, the arts club and the role playing game association. She was a presenter at the recent Maryland Collegiate Honors Council conference and a participant at Student Advocacy Day. Malinger works part time for the honors program at Wor-Wic and at the Piercing Pagoda in the Centre at Salisbury.

Addressing the Class of 2011, Malinger congratulated her fellow graduates on their achievements: “Commencement is undoubtedly a reason to celebrate because you made the right decision and you have now earned a degree that no one can take away from you," she said. "And whatever happens after today, you will always share this achievement."

Malinger talked about how she came to Wor-Wic right after graduating from high school, knowing that this was “the smarter debt-free path.... and I can honestly say it was the best decision I’ve made regarding my education."

Referring to invitations she received to enroll in the honors program and join PTK shortly after applying to the college, Malinger said that she "didn’t just walk into Wor-Wic. I was invited in." As for the honors program, she said that she has "never been a part of a more challenging and rewarding program."

Malinger used Wor-Wic's slogan, “Start Here, Go Anywhere!” to talk about all of the places Wor-Wic has taken her. She said she is leaving with “only half of a bucket list and I hope the same can be said for most of you." She also challenged her fellow graduates to make their own lists of things they would have missed out on if they didn't come to Wor-Wic.

Malinger concluded her speech by saying: "So, I’d like to take the liberty to speak on behalf of all of the graduates of the class of 2011 when I summarize this day in just one extremely familiar phrase -- Thanks Wor-Wic.”

Malinger majored in general studies at Wor-Wic and plans to transfer to Goucher College in Baltimore to major in English and minor in communications. She says she looks forward to studying abroad and doing internships for television and radio stations.

General studies was the most popular major among members of the graduating class. Matt Molchan of Mardela Springs, 36, graduated with an associate of arts degree in general studies and a certificate of proficiency in construction engineering technology. Molchan saw an advancement opportunity at work that required more education than he had, so he juggled a full-time job, going to school and raising a family so that he could gain more experience and knowledge. The drafting, math and English classes he took early on helped him in his job right away, and within a short time, he was promoted from soil conservation technician to civil engineering technician for the National Resource Conservation Service. But, Molchan didn’t stop taking classes just because he earned a promotion. Molchan, a U.S. Air Force veteran, stayed at Wor-Wic to complete his degree and become the first person in his immediate family to graduate from college. Because the college’s new environmental science program options are so closely related to his job and the programs he just completed, Molchan plans to take a few additional courses to earn another degree at Wor-Wic. Once he has completed the environmental science courses he is interested in, he plans to transfer to a four-year university and major in civil engineering.

Following nursing as the second most popular major this year was education.

With a 3.58 GPA, Brittney Almond, 20, of Ocean City received her secondary education transfer degree. Since childhood, she dreamed about going to college, getting a degree, making a better life for herself and becoming the first member of her immediate family to graduate from college. When she first enrolled at Wor-Wic, Almond was unsure and had some common misconceptions about community colleges, but the positive things she heard about Wor-Wic helped her decide to give it a try. Her experiences with fellow students, faculty and advisors at Wor-Wic helped change her mind and now she encourages everyone to get their start at a community college. Almond plans to transfer to the University of Maryland College Park to major in education.

In the race to graduation, Tory Vaughan IV, 19, of Berlin, comes in first as the youngest member of the Class of 2011. This weekend, Vaughan will race off to Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va. Tory got his start in go-kart racing when he was 15 years old, and within a few years, he became an S-10 super truck driver. With plans to continue racing, Vaughan was looking for a degree that would help him turn his passion into a profitable career. Racing is a business, and Vaughan has to manage his own team, promote his sponsors and handle the financial side of things, so he turned to Wor-Wic to enhance his knowledge of business. He graduated with an associate of applied science degree in business management and plans to transfer to Daytona State College in Florida to major in welding and high performance engine mechanics.

Other graduates received degrees or certificates in accounting, chemical dependency counseling, computer studies, criminal justice, electronics, emergency medical services, 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, Morgan Hazel and Robert M. Lawrence of Salisbury, and Russell W. Blake and William H. Kerbin of Pocomoke City; members of the Wicomico County Council, Gail M. Bartkovich, president, Matt Holloway and Sheree Sample-Hughes, all of Salisbury; and members of the Worcester County Commissioners, James L. Purnell Jr. of Berlin and Virgil L. Shockley of Snow Hill. Other special guests on stage were Sen. Richard F. Colburn, R-37, of Cambridge; Del. Norman H. Conway, D-38B, of Salisbury; Del. Michael A. McDermott, R-38B, of Pocomoke City; and Del. Charles J. Otto, R-38A, of Princess Anne. Rev. Olin Shockley of Berlin gave the invocation and benediction.

SOUTHERN WORCESTER GRADUATES. Del. Michael A. McDermott, R-38B, of Pocomoke City, and Virgil L. Shockley of Snow Hill, a member 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 Shockley, are Morgan Allison of Pocomoke City, a business graduate, and Natalee Cartwright of Pocomoke City, a chemical dependency counseling graduate.

OCEAN CITY GRADUATES. Sen. James N. Mathias Jr. of Ocean City congratulates some of the graduates from Ocean City who received their associate degrees at Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. From left, next to Mathias, are Brittney Almond, an education graduate, Michael Thomas, a general studies graduate, and Angel Conner, a nursing graduate.

BERLIN GRADUATES. James L. Purnell Jr. of Berlin, vice president of the Worcester County Commissioners, congratulates some of the graduates from Berlin who received their associate degrees at Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. From left, next to Purnell, are Brooke Shelton, an education graduate, Dasha Holland, a chemical dependency counseling graduate, and Tory Vaughn, a business graduate.

SOMERSET GRADUATES. Del. Charles J. Otto, R-38A, of Princess Anne, 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 Otto are Michelle Malinger of Wenona, a general studies graduate, Sherell Brady of Princess Anne, an office technology graduate, Jacob Lawson of Crisfield, a general studies graduate, and Shawn Holbrook of Princess Anne, a criminal justice graduate.

WICOMICO GRADUATES. Sen. Richard F. Colburn, R-37, of Cambridge, and Del. Norman H. Conway, D-38B, of Salisbury, congratulate 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 Kimberly Slade of Fruitland, a general studies graduate, Kelsie Ward of Pittsville, a radiologic technology graduate, Matthew Molchan of Mardela Springs, a general studies and construction engineering technology graduate, and Darrell Conquest of Salisbury, a science transfer graduate.

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, Velda E. Henry of Berlin, vice chairperson of the board of trustees at Wor-Wic; Dr. Ray Hoy of Salisbury, president of the college; Sen. James N. Mathias Jr. of Ocean City who was the commencement speaker; James L. Purnell Jr. of Berlin, vice president of the Worcester County Commissioners; and Gail M. Bartkovich of Salisbury, president of the Wicomico County Council.

WICOMICO COUNCIL. Wicomico County officials attended Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. Shown in the front row from left, are Dr. Ray Hoy of Salisbury, president of the college, and Gail M. Bartkovich, president of the Wicomico County Council. Shown in the back row, from left, are council members Sheree Sample-Hughes and Matt Holloway