Comptroller Franchot Addresses Wor-Wic Graduates
May 10, 2013

During commencement ceremonies for Wor-Wic Community College at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot gave the graduates advice that he said has benefitted him throughout his life and career.

“When I was in college . . . , I read a poem . . . by Ralph Waldo Emerson that struck me. It read, ‘If a man plants himself indomitably on his instincts, and there abides, this huge world will come around to him or her.’ Since that day, I’ve never forgotten that line and I’ve tried to live by it.”

Franchot explained that “when your instincts push you in one direction,” but others come out against it and want to go in another direction, “those are moments that define your true abiding character . . . . Listen to that inner voice and follow it. It’s what you believe in. You’ll be stunned by how many people turn around and come with you in your direction.”

Franchot told the graduates to use the doubts of others as a motivator. He warned them that the fear of failing and the risk of losing can keep them from winning. He reminded the graduates of historical and contemporary figures that endured and triumphed from failures, including President Abraham Lincoln, Michael Jordan, Beethoven, Henry Ford, Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg.

“Imagine if all those wonderful individuals had given up,” Franchot added, “if they had listened to those around them who suggested they move on. Thank goodness they didn’t, and we’re all better off because of it.

“You can’t win if you’re not willing to risk losing,” Franchot said. “You’ll never succeed if you’re afraid of failing.”

Franchot reminded the graduates that life is about “sticking resolutely to your principles.”

“You will never forgive yourselves if you abandon who you are,” he said. “It’s a lesson so many of you are already living . . . . For many of you, perhaps you may be the first in your family to go to college. You’ve overcome terrific personal challenges just to make it to Wor-Wic and more still in order to graduate.”

Franchot concluded by saying, “You planted yourselves indomitably on this goal and you’ve brought everyone around to it. So don’t ever forget the questions you’ve answered, the doubts you’ve dispelled, the fortunetellers in your life who you’ve now proven wrong. When you see injustice or inequality, don’t ever be afraid to speak up and speak out, even if it means challenging those whose relationships you value. When you see wrong, don’t hesitate to right it, even if you ruffle a few feathers along the way. Above all, don’t be afraid to take risks and to fail. Don’t ever let ‘no’ be the end of the conversation. Just make it the motivator to get to ‘yes.’”

Morgan Hazel, 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 Franchot, Dr. Ray Hoy, college president, presented him with a plaque on behalf of the 2013 graduating class.

Dr. Stephen L. Capelli, vice president for academic and student affairs, introduced the student speaker, Stephen Feliciano of Salisbury, who graduated from Wor-Wic with an associate degree in business management.

Addressing the Class of 2013, Feliciano shared a quote from Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step.” He went on to speak about his journey of returning to college after not seeing a classroom for 20 years.

“Making the decision to go to college is an expensive investment, but the rate of return can be greatly profitable,” Feliciano said. “The value of a college degree has risen and competition is self-evident in today’s society. For higher education is a pathway to self-confidence, appreciation and self worth.

“The word commencement denotes a beginning and for some of us that means a newly acquired job, progression in the workplace or a stepping stone in what is to come in our educational endeavors,” Feliciano said. “Whichever road we decide to take, the journey will surely be filled with change, new opportunities, and we will set new goals . . . . Grasp your future with great conviction and reflect on what you have learned at Wor-Wic to help make that journey notable and memorable.”

In conclusion, Feliciano quoted Muhammad Ali: “Champions are not made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them: a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”

His last plea to his fellow graduates was: “Let us continue striving for academic excellence and use our newfound abilities and skills in our continued journey through life. Let us keep on fighting.”

After graduating from Wor-Wic, Feliciano plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business at Wilmington University.

General studies was the most popular major among members of the graduating class. Two sets of twin sisters earned their associate of arts degrees in general studies.

Cierra and Tierra Watson, 20, of Hebron, were not allowed by their mother to be in classes together in elementary and secondary school because she wanted the sisters to develop their own personalities. When they got to college, however, they took just about every class together. After graduation, they are planning to apply to the biochemistry program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

While enrolled at Wor-Wic, Heidi and Holly Whittington, 27, of Willards, worked together scheduling the flight crew at the Salisbury-Ocean City: Wicomico Regional Airport, usually covering the 2 p.m. to midnight shift. They were able to find daytime classes at the college that worked with their work schedule. From time to time, both sisters had to take time away from college for various reasons, but they both persevered until they completed their degrees. Heidi also recently completed her first semester in the nursing program at Wor-Wic. After she completes the nursing program, she plans to transfer to a four-year college to get a bachelor’s degree in nursing. While Holly continues to work at the airport, she plans to enroll in the pre-veterinary animal and poultry science program at UMES. Ultimately, she wants to be a veterinarian.

Following general studies, nursing was the second most popular major this year, followed by education and business.

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

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, Queen Anne’s and other counties in Maryland, as well as from nearby states.

In addition to the speakers, dignitaries included members of the college's board of trustees, Andrew W. Booth, D. Gary Boggs and Martin T. Neat of Salisbury, Velda E. Henry of Berlin and Russell W. Blake of Pocomoke City; Wicomico County Executive Richard M. Pollitt Jr. of Allen; and members of the Wicomico County Council, Matt Holloway, president, Bob Culver, vice president, Gail M. Bartkovich, John Hall, Stevie Prettyman and Sheree Sample-Hughes, all of Salisbury. Other guests included Sen. Richard F. Colburn, R-37, of Cambridge; Sen. James N. Mathias Jr., D-38, of Ocean City; Del. Norman H. Conway, D-38B, of Salisbury; Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt, R-37B, of Cambridge; and Del. Charles J. Otto, R-38A, of Princess Anne. Rev. Rob Townsend of Bethesda United Methodist Church in Salisbury gave the invocation and benediction.

FROM SOUTHERN WORCESTER. Russell W. Blake of Pocomoke City, vice chairperson of the board of trustees at Wor-Wic Community College, congratulates some of the graduates from southern Worcester County who received their associate degrees at commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. From left, next to Blake, are Thad Burkhead of Pocomoke City, a nursing graduate, LaToya Purnell of Snow Hill, a business transfer graduate, and Faye Dryden of Newark, an office technology graduate.

FROM OCEAN CITY. Sen. James N. Mathias Jr., D-38, 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 Brandie Plumb, a hotel-motel-restaurant management graduate, and Barbara Kaloroumakis, an accounting graduate.

FROM BERLIN. Velda E. Henry of Berlin, a member of the board of trustees at Wor-Wic Community College, congratulates some of the graduates from Berlin who received their associate degrees at commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. From left, next to Henry, are Matthew Tyndall, a general studies graduate, Lydia Pruitt, a hotel-motel-restaurant management graduate, and Ashleigh Tingle, an office technology 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 Christine Cropper of Chance, a hotel-motel-restaurant management graduate, Melissa Hoyle of Marion Station, a general studies graduate, and Marcel Cannon of Princess Anne, a business transfer graduate.

WICOMICO GRADUATES. Morgan Hazel of Hebron, chairperson of the board of trustees at Wor-Wic Community College, congratulates some of the graduates from Wicomico County who received their associate degrees at commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. From left, next to Hazel, are Kristin Morris of Salisbury, a general studies graduate, and Donald Quackenbush of Pittsville, an environmental energy technology graduate.

FROM THE UPPER SHORE. Sen. Richard F. Colburn, R-37, and Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt, R-37B, of Cambridge, congratulate Katelyn Harris of Federalsburg, a hotel-motel-restaurant management graduate, Shanna Burton of East New Market, an office technology graduate, and Emily Thomas of Vienna, a business graduate, at Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center.

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, Morgan Hazel, chairperson of the board of trustees at Wor-Wic; Dr. Ray Hoy of Salisbury, president of the college; Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, who was the commencement speaker; Matt Holloway of Salisbury, president of the Wicomico County Council; and Richard M. Pollitt Jr. of Allen, Wicomico County executive.

WICOMICO COUNCIL. Melissa Holland, seated at left, executive office associate for the Wicomico County Council who received her associate degree in general studies at Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center, is congratulated by Wicomico County officials. Seated from left, next to Holland, are Gail M. Bartkovich, Stevie Prettyman and Sheree Sample-Hughes. In the back row, from left, are Richard M. Pollitt Jr., Wicomico County executive, Matt Holloway, council president, Bob Culver, council vice president, John Hall, council member, and Matt Creamer, council administrator.