45th Garrett College Commencement

2017 Commencement photos by Bob Carney:  Garrett College Photo Gallery

Madison Cooper had a challenging task.

Pictured is Kirsten Welch, Dr. Sarah L. Garrett, Vice President for Instruction and Student Services, Madison Cooper, and Dr. Rich Midcap, President. Welch and Cooper were presented with the award for the Highest Grade Point Average.

The 2017 recipient for the Leadership and Excellence Award, Kelsey Birmingham.
“My professors told me to inspire you,” said Cooper, the student speaker at Garrett College’s 45th commencement exercises on May 20th.  Cooper, however, said she wondered “how do I inspire a group of individuals who have their own inspiring stories?”

Cooper, who will be attending West Virginia University in the fall and was named GC’s Outstanding Transfer Student, had a point.  A biochemistry major who hopes to work in a research lab, Cooper wasn’t the only inspiring story in the Class of 2017.

Kelsey Birmingham, who won the 2017 Leadership and Excellence Award, received a full, two-year transfer scholarship to Bucknell University as part of Bucknell’s Community College Scholar program.  Kirsten Welch, who matched Cooper’s perfect 4.0 grade-point average, shared the award for highest graduating GPA.

Josiah Freese was named Outstanding Career Advancement Student while the Inspiration and Excellence Award went to a non-traditional student, Cindy Lowdermilk, who earned her associate’s degree while working a full-time position at Garrett College.  The college also recognized the effort required to successfully combine full-time studies with intercollegiate athletics, naming Abdul Jafar Musa and Allison Riesco Male and Female Scholar Athletes, respectively.
Madison Cooper

Madison Cooper, this year’s student speaker was also the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Transfer Student. Cooper plans to attend West Virginia State University this fall.

The entire 122-member Class of 2017 was pretty inspiring, according to Garrett College President Richard Midcap.

“You’re an impressive group,” Dr. Midcap, pictured left, told the graduates.  “You had an average GPA of 3.16 with 28 Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society members and 44 students graduating with honors.  I congratulate you on your achievements, which I know each of you will build upon in the years to come.”

Drawing on her science background, Cooper urged her classmates to turn their “potential energy” into “kinetic energy” by actively engaging their talent and work ethic to meet their life goals.

The graduates also received good advice from Garrett County Commissioners Chair Paul Edwards, who served as commencement speaker. 

Edwards, who delivered an engaging speech without notes, quoted everyone from the Founding Fathers to Winston Churchill, but may have best captured the spirit of community college graduates with a quote from fictitious boxer Rocky Balboa.
Mr. Paul Edwards, Chair of the Garrett County Board of Commissioners, delivered this year’s Commencement address to the graduates.

“It isn’t about how hard you hit,” Edwards quoted the fighter known for his tenacity.  “It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

While most of the ceremony focused on the graduates, the college’s Board of Trustees also honored an individual who has served both the college and the community in a variety of roles over the years.  Al Coviello – a former assistant superintendent of schools in Garrett County, former member of the Garrett College Board of Trustees, and acting president of Garrett College from July 2016 to January 2017 – received the Board Award for Outstanding Contributions to Garrett College.

Coviello, who was scheduled to go off the Board of Trustees in June 2016, was drafted by his fellow trustees to serve as acting president after President Richard MacLennan accepted the presidency of Northern Idaho College.  Coviello was widely credited with bolstering employee morale and paving the way for a smooth transition as the college searched for a permanent president last fall.


Each year the Garrett College Board of Trustees solicits nominations for the Award of Outstanding Contributions to Garrett College Pictured is Vianne Bell, Board Chair, Garrett College Board of Trustees; Al Coviello, Dr. Richard Midcap, President.

“Al has continued to serve the college even in retirement,” said Dr. Midcap.  “He has very graciously helped me in my transition with advice and encouragement.”

Board chair Vianne Bell made the presentation to Coviello on behalf of her colleagues.

For more commencement photos visit our Facebook page:  45th Annual Garrett College Commencement

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