John J. Allen Jr. addresses Wor-Wic graduates
May 12, 2014

During commencement ceremonies for Wor-Wic Community College at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center, John J. Allen Jr., vice president of Delmarva Power, gave the graduates advice that he said could help them achieve success.

Allen used the 1970 hit, “We’ve Only Just Begun,” by The Carpenters as the theme for his remarks, using song lyrics to get his message across.

Allen quoted from the lyrics, “We've only just begun to live, white lace and promises. A kiss for luck and we're on our way. We've only just begun.”

He told the graduates they could replace “white lace” with “cap and gown,” but just like in marriage, they must understand their environment and know what they're getting into. He urged the graduates to make sure they are prepared for the next step.

Allen reminded the graduates that there’s nothing wrong with starting small. “You're embarking on a new beginning,” he said. “You may not walk right into your dream job or to your dream opportunity, but don’t try to get too far ahead of your ability. Understand that the timing may not be right for you … be willing to do what you’re asked to do. It may not be the high profile project, but show yourself faithful. Start out walking and then learn to run.”

Allen also stressed the importance of being observant, learning from others, talking things over and collaborating. From the lyrics, he read: “Sharing horizons that are new to us. Watching the signs that are along the way. Talking it over, just the two of us. Working together day to day, together.” He told the graduates that success is driven by those who work together and that partnerships lead to great things.

Allen concluded by saying, “There have been many things that you have learned in your time here at Wor-Wic Community College. You’ve learned how to listen carefully and how to communicate clearly. You’ve learned how to understand and appreciate complexity. You’ve learned how to think critically and creatively. You’ve learned how to put words into action, how to engage the world and to challenge the status quo.”

“These are skills for a lifetime, but remember … you’ve only just begun.”

Russell W. Blake of Pocomoke City, 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 Allen, Dr. Ray Hoy, college president, presented him with a plaque on behalf of the 2014 graduating class.

Dr. Stephen L. Capelli, vice president for academic and student affairs, introduced the student speaker, Aaron Dufrene of Stockton, who graduated from Wor-Wic with an associate degree in general studies.

Addressing the Class of 2014, Dufrene shared his personal experience of how Wor-Wic has changed his life.

“When I arrived here, I was surprised to find that Wor-Wic offered me more than I expected,” Dufrene said. “Not only did they supply me with the college credits I needed, but they tested my critical thinking and evaluation skills in real world applications. Here at Wor-Wic, I have found that they not only build scholars, and social and environmental thinkers and activists, but through their emphasis in cultural literacy, they build the future leaders of our communities on the Eastern Shore.”

Dufrene told his fellow graduates that Wor-Wic gave him a chance to advance his education in an environment that encourages critical thinking, original thought and professionalism. Professors at Wor-Wic encouraged him to study about his fields of interest and challenged him to connect those interests to the topics being learned. He added that his education was enriched by Wor-Wic’s honors program. “It was through this program that I was strongly encouraged to take my knowledge outside of the classroom and make a positive change in the world.”

In conclusion, Dufrene said, “Looking at my future, with its dazzling promises of success and its thrilling hints of uncertainty, I am excited to face it head on. I feel that I am now ready to confront the world of opportunities before me. I know that with any struggle I face, I have the encouragement, knowledge and training of friends, professors and faculty members to guide me like the torch through the darkness, to the life I choose to make.”

His last plea to his fellow graduates was: “Let us remember to be the example we want others to follow and to lead with open hearts and sound minds. Let us remember that tonight, this is not just a celebration of the completion of our degrees, but also a celebration of the success that will follow and the bright future that is yet to come.”

After graduating from Wor-Wic, Dufrene plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in music technology at Salisbury University.

General studies was the most popular major among members of the graduating class. Thomas Babcock of Whaleyville, one of Wor-Wic’s first students, also graduated with an associate of arts degree in general studies. Babcock started at Wor-Wic in the fall of 1978, just two years after the first entering class. Just out of high school, Babcock said he was working for Robert M. Lawrence, a local auto dealer, who was one of the original founders of the college. “Wor-Wic was a very different place back then,” Babcock said. “Not only could I major in automotive technology, there was no campus. My classes were scattered throughout Wicomico County.” After one year at Wor-Wic, life (wife, kids, work) intervened. He returned for one semester in the spring of 2009, but finally “became serious about it” in the fall of 2011. He graduated with a 3.62 grade point average. Babcock is currently the service manager at Mack Trucks in Salisbury.

Following general studies, nursing was the second most popular major this year. Lashawn Dashields of Westover graduated from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore with a biology degree in 2006 and was planning to go to school in Iowa to become a chiropractor. One month after graduating, her father was diagnosed with colon cancer. After his death, Lashawn, the oldest of seven children, could not leave her mother at home with her four younger sisters. She decided to pursue her second passion -- nursing. Dashields has been working as a CNA since she was 16 years old, and has been at Peninsula Regional Medical Center for the past seven years. She always wanted to help people and work in health care. She knew she could stay at home, continue working and go to school at Wor-Wic, where the class schedules are flexible. She was admitted into the program and finished the certificate (LPN) program last semester. Now, she has graduated with her associate degree in nursing and plans to work as an RN.

Other graduates received degrees or certificates in accounting, business, chemical dependency counseling, computer studies, criminal justice, education, electronics, emergency medical services, 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, Martin T. Neat, vice chair, D. Gary Boggs and Andrew W. Booth of Salisbury, and Velda E. Henry of Berlin; Wicomico County Executive Richard M. Pollitt Jr. of Allen; and members of the Wicomico County Council, Matt Holloway, president, Gail M. Bartkovich, Bob Culver and Sheree Sample-Hughes, all of Salisbury, and Joe Holloway of Parsonsburg; members of the Worcester County Commissioners, Bud Church of Ocean City, president, and Virgil L. Shockley of Snow Hill. Other guests included Sen. James N. Mathias Jr., D-38, of Ocean City; Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt, R-37B, of Cambridge; Del. Michael A. McDermott, R-38B, of Pocomoke City; and Del. Charles J. Otto, R-38A, of Princess Anne. Rev. David Michaud, rector at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Salisbury, gave the invocation and benediction.

FROM SOUTHERN WORCESTER. Del. Michael A. McDermott, R-38B, of Pocomoke City, and Virgil 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 Noel Dufrene and her brother, Aaron Dufrene, of Stockton, general studies graduates, Mallory Cropper of Snow Hill, a radiologic technology graduate, and Robert Smith of Newark, a general studies graduate.

FROM OCEAN CITY. Sen. James N. Mathias Jr., D-38, of Ocean City, and Bud Church of Ocean City, president of the Worcester County Commissioners, congratulate 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 Church, are Christopher Simmons, a hotel-motel restaurant management graduate, and Igor Chuburkov, a business transfer graduate.

FROM NORTHERN WORCESTER. Velda E. Henry of Berlin, a member of the board of trustees at Wor-Wic Community College, congratulates some of the graduates from Northern Worcester County who received their associate degrees at commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. From left, next to Henry, are Silviya Gallo of Berlin, an education transfer graduate, Quintin Dennis of Berlin, a criminal justice graduate, and Thomas Babcock of Whaleyville, a general studies 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 Alison Malinger of Deal Island, a hotel-motel-restaurant management graduate, LaShawn Dashields of Westover, a nursing graduate, and Rebecca Hall of Princess Anne and Jacob Townsend of Crisfield, chemical dependency counseling graduates.

FROM QUANTICO, SHARPTOWN AND TYASKIN. Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt, R-37B, of Cambridge, congratulates area graduates who received their associate degrees at Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. From left, next to Eckardt, are Jasmine Garland of Quantico, a nursing graduate, Brittany Shaver of Sharptown, a hotel-motel-restaurant management graduate, and Kerstin Jenkins of Tyaskin, an office technology 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, Russell W. Blake of Pocomoke City, chairperson of the board of trustees at Wor-Wic; Dr. Ray Hoy of Salisbury, president of the college; John J. Allen Jr., vice president of Delmarva Power, who was the commencement speaker; Bud Church of Ocean City, president of the Worcester County Commissioners; Matt Holloway of Salisbury, president of the Wicomico County Council; and Richard M. Pollitt Jr. of Allen, Wicomico County executive.

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 Nicholas Dasher of Salisbury, this year’s youngest graduate who received a science transfer degree, with council members Gail M. Bartkovich, Sheree Sample-Hughes and Bob Culver. Shown in the back row, from left, are Richard M. Pollitt Jr., Wicomico County executive, Matt Holloway, council president, and Joe Holloway, council member.