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B&E puts spotlight on December grads

This month, more than 160 graduates recently joined the B&E alumni family.

As part of that celebration, more than 200 attendees honored the College's newest graduates at a Convocation Breakfast held the Mountainlair on the morning of Convocation on December 9.

"Approximately 30 students and their families attended," said Catharine Thieme, Developmental Advising Specialist in Undergraduate Programs and Advising at B&E. Another 30-40 graduates joined in for the Convocation ceremony itself, held at the WVU Coliseum, she said.

After opening remarks by Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Karen France, Milan Puskar Dean Jose V. "Zito" Sartarelli spoke to the graduates.

"The message I conveyed to our December graduates was really three-fold," said Dr. Jose Sartarelli, Milan Puskar Dean. "One, keep yourselves curious about the world. Two, do the things you love. Three, let your passion flow."

At the breakfast, each attending student was recognized individually, and was given an alumni pin by a B&E faculty member. After all graduates had their pins, undergraduate advising specialist Brian Chang and the graduates recited the WVU Alumni Charge, a pledge that instructs new alumni to move to the next chapter in their lives with lots of Mountaineer pride.

"Maintain your connection with West Virginia University. Show your Mountaineer pride, not just on game days, but every day in every place life takes you… At West Virginia University, you will always have a home among the hills," Chang said, as graduates repeated the Charge. 

Thieme provided the closing remarks. There was a designated table for each major where students, families, faculty and staff shared the traditional December Convocation meal.

The 33-member graduating class of the Executive Master of Business Administration held its own special ceremony and brunch before Convocation.

The Spring 2011 online class was the second-ever cohort to graduate from the program, according to Director of Graduate Programs Dr. Elizabeth Vitullo. Approximately two-thirds of the graduates attended the EMBA Convocation Brunch.

"We had about 80 people there including the families. It was an intimate affair," Vitullo said of the event, including the room that was decorated in a holiday theme.

"The really special part of the whole event was the alumni pinning. (Director of Alumni Relations) Bonnie Anderson read the alumni charge," prior to each graduate being pinned, said Vitullo. "Each graduate selected a family member to pin them. Some were pinned by their parents, others by their children or spouse," said Vitullo.  

EMBA graduates were congratulated by Dean Sartarelli and Associate Dean for Graduate programs Dr. Gary Insch.

"There are so many stories to this group. A husband and wife graduated together. There are people who have started a family since they began the program," Vitullo said. There's also one graduate, Major Fred Hill, who finished his EMBA degree despite being deployed to Afghanistan during his program.

"When I came back from Afghanistan, I did about a third of my coursework online," said Hill, who originally started out in the January 2008 cohort. "At the end of the day, the schoolwork was tough but it was worth it," he said. In addition to serving his country as an operations officer for the West Virginia Army National Guard, Hill spends time with his three children and coaches little league football and baseball. "I'm very thankful. (The knowledge gained from the program) helped me in Afghanistan with current and future planning. There's no doubt it helped my battalion."

Both Vitullo and Thieme expressed gratitude to faculty representation at the events, as professors expressed their support for the newest graduates. Thieme has now coordinated four pre-convocation breakfasts, and said it's a rewarding experience all around.

"December Convocation includes all colleges. This though, this is like your family celebrating. And the faculty attend to wish you well and congratulate you personally," she said. "I've seen them and I've helped them work through issues, and it's so wonderful to see them achieve their goals and their degrees."

As one can imagine, the College's newest graduates were excited and proud of their achievements.

"Not only have I had great professors and friends, I also have had an education of a lifetime," said Lori Crist, who just received her bachelor's degree in marketing.

"I'm most proud of taking a step forward and being an active student. I took a chance, and by doing so, I was able to go to Italy for a study abroad program and joined a national marketing competition. You never know what road you'll take," said Crist, who originally started her WVU career as an interior design major.

"It feels wonderful (to have completed my EMBA degree)," said Hill. "I made a good choice."