Newberry Addresses Wor-Wic Graduates
May 09, 2007

R. Alan Newberry, president and CEO of the Peninsula Regional Health Care System and the featured speaker at Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises Tuesday night at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center, started his remarks with some examples of the “long, productive and successful relationship” between the college and the medical center. He ended by giving the more than 400 graduates his top 13 list of rules to follow as they go through life.

Prefacing his list of rules, Newberry said they “are not necessarily listed in order of importance” and that he "did not always follow these rules," but wishes he had.

“Become a life-long learner...,” Newberry started. “The job will change, the situations will change, and life will change. Be prepared. Continue to grow. Continue to learn.

“Life is not fair” was Newberry’s second rule. “It really isn’t what happens to you. Often, it's how you handle what happens to you. Get used to it. Expect it. And deal with it.

“Set goals,” he continued, “some easy goals, some stretch goals, some short-term goals, some long-term goals, some personal goals, some professional goals. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone.

“When you lose, and sooner or later we all lose, learn from it" was the fourth rule. "Remember the lesson."

Newberry also told the graduates to “have a sense of humor..., make the decision..., be true to yourself..., pick your battles..., don’t burn your bridges..., embrace change... and call your parents.” Rule No. 12 was “It’s a job; it's not a life.... It's important to keep balance in your life."

As CEO of a health care system, Newberry’s 13th rule was not a surprise: “Value and maintain your health,” he said. “If you don’t have your health, you really don’t have anything.”

In his final words, Newberry told the graduates to remember that “happiness is a journey. It is not a destination. Enjoy the journey,” he said.

D. Gary Boggs, 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 Newberry, Dr. Ray Hoy, college president, presented him with a plaque on behalf of the 2007 graduating class.

Dr. Stephen L. Capelli, vice president for academic and student affairs at Wor-Wic, introduced the student speaker, Erin Twilley of Salisbury, a general studies and honors program graduate with a 4.0 grade point average who recently received word that she was one of only two community college students in Maryland named to the All-USA Academic Team for Community Colleges. Only 60 students were chosen from 1,500 nominees for this national recognition.

Addressing her fellow members of the Class of 2007, Twilley focused on the importance of “never giving in.”

“There are moments in our life when we just want to give in -- when the struggle, or the pressure to fulfill our obligations is too overwhelming,” she said. “During our time at Wor-Wic, we each probably reached a point where we questioned our ability to accomplish our goals. Yet, here we are.”

Twilley, who was home-schooled all her life and completed the requirements to graduate from high school before she turned 16, recalled how nervous she was on her first day of college at Wor-Wic: “All I wanted to do was make it to the right classroom, at the right time, with the right books,” she said. She talked about her experiences as a student in the honors program and as an active member of Wor-Wic’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa and Wor-Wic’s student government association.

“While the leadership skills are beneficial..., perhaps the greatest thing I will take away with me when I leave Wor-Wic is personal growth,” she said. “Knowing that I have what it takes to succeed -- that when I become stressed when the homework piles up... and it felt like I needed to clone myself in order to accomplish anything -- I didn’t give in.

“We didn’t give in,” she emphasized. “You may have had to raise a family or work three jobs to pay the rent and bills, but that struggle makes this day that much more important.”

Twilley plans to transfer to Salisbury University where she will major in chemistry. She was one of 90 graduates receiving an associate of arts degree or certificate of proficiency in general studies. The general studies program allows students to complete their first year or two of college and transfer to the four-year college or university of their choice. Other general studies graduates like twins April and Ashley Hankerson of Salisbury, 19, also plan to transfer to SU, as business majors. The Hankerson sisters both work as part-time managers at Regal Cinemas in Salisbury, but after earning their bachelor’s degrees, they plan to go in different directions -- April is planning a career in business law, while Ashley wants to pursue a career in real estate.

Nursing was the only major where the numbers of graduates were higher than general studies, with 95 graduates -- 45 receiving associate degrees and 50 receiving certificates of proficiency. The number of nursing graduates is expected to continue to increase as the effects of the college’s latest nursing expansion are realized. The first-time licensure examination pass rate of Wor-Wic’s graduates in these programs surpasses both state and national averages.

Criminal justice is the next largest group of graduates, with eight degrees and 54 certificates. Education majors follow, with 47 degrees and two certificates. One of the education graduates, Timothy Dickson of Salisbury, 27, who is graduating with an associate degree in elementary education, recently learned that he is being recognized by the Maryland Association of Teacher Educators (MATE) as a distinguished teacher candidate honoree as a result of his commitment to student learning and reflective, responsive teaching. In addition to PTK membership and serving as president of Wor-Wic’s Future Educators of America Club, Dickson has been volunteering for the past several years as a mentor at East Salisbury Elementary School. This past year, he also tutored students in math at Beaver Run Elementary School. In addition, he works three part-time jobs -- at Best Buy, Another Fine Mess and the Mid-Delmarva Family YMCA. After graduating from SU, he wants to teach fifth grade or middle school students.

Business is another popular program at Wor-Wic, with 26 associate degree graduates this year. Business graduate Lois Burton of Hebron, 51, decided to change the direction of her life after one of her sons was murdered in 1990 and she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992. While battling the cancer, continuing to be a foster parent and working full time at K&L Microwave in Salisbury, Burton managed to persist in her goal of graduating from college.

Burton is not alone in getting to graduation despite major obstacles. Kim Majus of Salisbury, 45, will graduate with a degree in office technology and a 3.5 grade point average. Overcoming challenges associated with being severly hearing impaired due to a rare heredity disorder called craniometaphyseal dysplasia (CMD), Majus graduated from the Pennsylania School for the Deaf in Philadelphia and spent 20 years working in the banking industry. With her new degree in office technology, she hopes to obtain a job at a local doctor’s office in the area of data entry or office administration.

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

The majority of the graduates are from Salisbury or other parts of Wicomico County, followed by Worcester and Somerset counties. Graduates are also from Dorchester, Caroline, Kent, Talbot and Queen Anne’s counties in Maryland, as well as from Delaware and Virginia.

Dignitaries seated on stage included members of the college's board of trustees, Robert M. Lawrence, vice chairperson, Andrew W. Booth and Morgan Hazel, all of Salisbury, Russell W. Blake of Pocomoke City and Velda E. Henry of Berlin; Wicomico County Executive Richard M. Pollitt Jr. of Allen; members of the Wicomico County Council, John T. Cannon, president, Gail M. Bartkovich, David MacLeod, William R. McCain and Sheree Sample-Hughes, all of Salisbury, and Joe Holloway of Parsonsburg; and members of the Worcester County Commissioners, James L. Purnell Jr. of Berlin, president, Judy Boggs and Linda Busick of Berlin, Bud Church of Ocean City and Robert Lee Cowger Jr. of Pocomoke City. Other special guests on stage were Sen. Richard F. Colburn, R-37, of Cambridge; Del. Norman H. Conway, D-38B, of Salisbury; Del. D. Page Elmore, R-38A, of Salisbury, and Del. Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, R-37B, of Easton. Also recognized were the Rev. George Patterson, senior pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Salisbury, who gave the invocation and benediction, Bob Cook of Salisbury, a former board member, one of the founders of the college and a long-time supporter, who was in the audience.

ON STAGE. Some of the officials seated on stage for Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center Tuesday evening are shown, from left, D. Gary Boggs of Salisbury, chairperson of the board of trustees; Dr. Ray Hoy of Salisbury, president of the college; Erin Twilley of Salisbury, a general studies graduate and student speaker; R. Alan Newberry of Salisbury, president and CEO of the Peninsula Regional Health System who was the commencement speaker; Richard M. Pollitt Jr. of Allen, Wicomico County Executive; John T. Cannon of Salisbury, president of the Wicomico County Council; and James L. Purnell Jr. of Berlin, president of the Worcester County Commissioners.

FROM SOUTHERN WORCESTER. Robert Lee Cowger Jr. of Pocomoke City, left, a member of the Worcester County Commissioners, congratulates 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 Tuesday evening. From left next to Cowger are Kenya Baine of Snow Hill, an office technology graduate, Diana Chavis of Newark, a general studies graduate, and William Berryhill of Pocomoke City, a computer studies graduate.

FROM NORTHERN WORCESTER. Judy Boggs, left, and Linda Busick, both of Berlin and members of the Worcester County Commissioners, congratulate 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 Tuesday evening. From left next to Busick are Lauren Verbich of Ocean City, an accounting and business management graduate, and Nathaniel Valle of Berlin, a general studies graduate.

SOMERSET GRADUATES. Del. D. Page Elmore, R-38, of Salisbury, left, 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 Tuesday evening. From left next to Elmore are Rochelle Handy of Princess Anne, an early childhood education graduate, Lisa Lawson of Crisfield, a nursing graduate, and Deborah Barkley of Eden, a chemical dependency counseling graduate.

TWINS GRADUATE. Del. Norman H. Conway, D-38, of Salisbury, left, congratulates the Hankerson twins at Wor-Wic Community College commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center Tuesday evening. From left next to Conway are Ashley Hankerson and April Hankerson of Salisbury, who received their associate degrees in general studies.

WICOMICO GRADUATES. Sen. Richard F. Colburn, R-37, of Cambridge, left, and Del. Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, R-37B, of Easton, 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 Tuesday evening. From left next to Haddaway-Riccio are Lois Burton of Hebron, a business management graduate, Kimberly Majus of Salisbury, an office technology graduate, and Timothy Dickson of Salisbury, an elementary education graduate.