Commencement 2020 - Garrett College

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Garrett College Commencement 2020

2020 Garrett College Commencement Presidential Address

Dr. Midcap Richard Midcap, Ed.D
President, Garrett College

While a worldwide pandemic prevents Garrett College from celebrating a traditional commencement, these circumstances do nothing to diminish our graduates' accomplishments or my pride in their achievements.

There is no greater illustration of the Class of 2020's commitment to achieving their goals than the way its members changed on the fly to an all-online instructional format after Spring Break. Students – many of whom had not previously taken online courses – adapted to and overcame the challenges associated with this new learning environment. Others needed to acquire either appropriate devices or sufficient internet access. And almost everyone had to deal with the social isolation that has been a staple of the coronavirus era. You have my admiration for reaching graduation despite these difficult circumstances.

I would also like to recognize Garrett College's faculty and staff for all that they did to transition the College to an all-online instructional format and to support the teaching and learning that continued to take place. This transition – accomplished in less than two weeks as the pandemic exploded in mid-March – required each of them to display an incredible amount of adaptability and ingenuity. Their commitment to your education helped us collectively devise a way to finish out this unusual semester.

I share your disappointment that the Class of 2020 was not afforded a traditional college graduation. You've earned the accolades and the honors that are normally associated with achieving a college degree. Yet, every challenge provides an opportunity for learning – and the coronavirus is no exception. I think many of this year's graduates learned they are tougher, smarter, stronger, and more adaptable than they ever realized. And that lesson will help you as you move forward, whether it's on to a four-year college or university, or directly into the workplace.

This will not be the last time that things don't go exactly as you planned. It will not be the final situation in which you have to adjust, changing your strategies and tactics to achieve your goals. It is not, in other words, the last time that life will throw you a curve. My hope is that this experience has taught you that you're ready for that next unexpected challenge – and that you know you'll be up to it!

I'm sorry I won't have the opportunity to shake your hand as I present you with your Garrett College diploma. It's always an honor to share that special moment with every member of each graduating class. I will, however, always remember that the Class of 2020 took on unprecedented challenges on the way to achieving their dreams. Knowing what you've already overcome, I have no doubt that each of you will rise to any future challenges you face.

While I cannot perform my graduation duties in person, I am able to complete them virtually.

As President of Garrett College, under the authority of the Board of Trustees and the State of Maryland, and on the recommendation of the faculty, I hereby confer upon you the degree or certificate appropriate to your course of study, with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities thereto appertaining.

Please turn your imaginary tassels to the left! :-) It is my pleasure to recognize each of you as a 2020 graduate of Garrett College!

While this year's ceremony had to be virtual, I would like to invite every 2020 graduate to attend and walk in Garrett College's 2021 commencement. At that event, we will recognize all of this year's graduates in addition to the members of the Class of 2021.

Dr. Midcap

2020 Graduate Awards & Recognition

Bucknell University Scholar: Tierra Jones

As a part of its commitment to expanding access to talented and dedicated scholars in the region, Bucknell University has established a scholarship program in cooperation with Garrett College. The two-year, highly competitive scholarship, is needs-based and is awarded to community college scholars who have attained high academic achievement. The recipient of this prestigious distinction receives a full two-year transfer scholarship to Bucknell University.

Tierra Jones

Hometown: Waldorf, MD

Major: Liberal Arts

Future Plans: Attending Bucknell University to major in English to obtain a career in public relations, publishing, or writing.

GC Activities: Student assistant with the Residence Life department, president of Student Government Association (SGA), vice president of GC's Alpha Omicron Phi Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK), and a student ambassador with the Admissions department.

In her own words:

On choosing GC: I knew I would have to start small, but I didn't want to start in the same place I was in. My sister told me about Garrett College, so I applied not thinking much of it until registration day. On registration day, I immediately felt at home and knew I'd made the right decision.

On her experience at GC: I have most loved the feeling of communal support that I've received since being a student here.

On her future: My next step is Bucknell! The summer experience and transfer scholarship offered a perfect home to finish my bachelor's degree! I am grateful for the opportunity and excited to get to work when the time comes. My advice to others is to believe in yourself and trust your dreams!

Scholar Athlete Co-Winner Merlon Devine

Garrett College is proud of its student athletes who combine excellence in competition with excellence in the classroom. Each year we recognize graduating student athletes that have obtained the highest GPA.

Merlon Devine

Hometown: La Plata, MD (La Plata High School)

Major: Business Administration

Future Plans: Transferring to Stevenson University to pursue a bachelor's degree in business and play for the NCAA Division III Mustangs.

GC Activities: Men's basketball team, President of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, student tutor

In his own words:

On his career plans: I just want to continue to pursue business as a profession. I hope to use an entrepreneurial mindset to guide me.

On best GC memories: Being part of the basketball team – of course! – and going to the church right down the street (McHenry United Methodist Church) and being part of the community. Garrett County's a good place to meet people and build relationships – and give back when you can. I was able to talk to Ms. [Kym] Newmann and volunteer at the food pantry from time to time.

Outstanding Transfer Student and Scholar Athlete Co-Winner Jose Vitale Perez

Outstanding Transfer Student

Selected on behalf of the faculty at Garrett College, the Outstanding Transfer Student is a student who receives an Associate of Arts Degree or an Associate of Science in Engineering Degree and is transferring to a 4-year institution. The student is chosen for their excellence and enthusiasm in the classroom, and qualities of leadership.

Scholar-Athlete Co-Winner

Garrett College is proud of its student athletes who combine excellence in competition with excellence in the classroom. Each year we recognize graduating student athletes that have obtained the highest GPA.

Jose Vitale Perez

Hometown: Valencia, Venezuela

Major: Computer Science

Future Plans: Attending West Virginia University and become a software developer

GC Activities: Catcher on the Lakers' baseball team and involved in international student activities, including visits to Garrett County elementary schools.

In his own words:

On his career plans: I started as a business administration major, but I've always liked computers. I've also been good at math, and anything regarding logic has always appealed to me.

On visiting local schools: It was a really nice experience. The elementary school kids were awesome. They were very interested in learning about Venezuela.

On best GC memories: I really liked road trips with the baseball team and going and playing in different stadiums. And just hanging out in the cafeteria with my friends. I'm really thankful for the staff – they've been so helpful. Melissa Wass helped me with any questions I had about the international student process, and Richard Lewis has been a really good professor. I'm really grateful to all of the faculty and staff.

Inspiration and Excellence Award: Dreama Tennant

In the quest for a college education there are students who encounter and overcome many different obstacles. Sometimes such a student persists in attaining these goals not only with dedication but with cheerfulness, a positive attitude, and an irrepressible spirit of enthusiasm that is an inspiration to other students and faculty.

Dreama Tennant

Hometown: Fairmont, WV (University HS)

Major: Cybersecurity

Future Plans: Potentially work for the FBI

In her own words:

On starting over: I worked at Mylan Pharmaceuticals in manufacturing when I was laid off in 2018. I had bills, a big old house payment, and I didn't have any way to make the money I needed to make to pay my bills. The "Workforce West Virginia" program paid tuition, travel expenses, and books for those who were laid off to get a degree or certification. At the same time, it increased unemployment from 26 weeks to 130 weeks as long as we were still in school and making the grades.

On choosing a computer-based career: I spoke with Richard Lewis and he told me about the program. I said, “Hey I don't know anything about computers,” and he said, “That's all right – we'll teach you.” I had 30-some credits from WVU and I think 29 of those were transferrable. I transferred all of my Gen Ed requirements and added in extra computer classes to get extra certifications.

On persevering: There's a certain amount of computer knowledge you should have, and I didn't. I had to really work at it. Richard Lewis is a very good teacher – he knows how to teach the material to people who don't have a clue – like myself. And I maintained a straight-A average.”

On building bonds with other students: I'm 53 years old, but it was fun getting to know the kids in the classes even though they're only 18 or 19. And they supported me – I got a text from one when I wasn't online right away for a class asking me where I was!

Leadership and Excellence Award: Zachary Friend

The following individual has been selected for displaying the qualities of a leader among his or her peers.

Zachary Friend

Hometown: Swanton (Homeschooled)

Major: Math/Science

Future Plans: Attend West Virginia University to become an orthodontist

GC Activities: President/Treasurer of GC's chapter of the PTK International Honor Society.

In his own words:

On best GC Memories: That would be A & P class with Carolyn Deniker – really good course and a really good teacher – and being a science tutor. I was tutoring a student who just needed a better grade in her anatomy class. When she told me she had gotten the second-highest grade on a test in that class, it was a really good memory to be able to help someone like that.

On getting involved: In PTK, we worked with the Health Department on health-related grants, including one [called Brightening Lives through Brighter Smiles] to assemble and distribute dental health packs to those in need in Garrett County.

Highest GPA Award and Outstanding Career Advancement Student: Aryssa Corby

Outstanding Career Advancement Student

The Career Advancement Student, also selected by faculty, receives an Associate of Applied Science Degree and plans to enter a career, although many of these students also go on to a four-year institution. The student is chosen for their excellence and enthusiasm in the classroom, and qualities of leadership.

Highest GPA Award

At this time, it is fitting that we recognize the attainment of excellence in academic achievement. This award is presented to the student who has maintained the Highest Grade Point Average while completing 60 or more hours of college credit classes in studies at Garrett College is:

Aryssa Corby

Hometown: Swanton (Southern Garrett graduate)

Major: Business Management and Entrepreneurship

Future Plans: Own and operate a reptile rescue

GC Activities: Garrett College Wildlife Club

In her own words:

On life goals: My classes have pushed me toward the hopes of having a reptile rescue of my own. I have a small-scale one now, but it would be interesting to have a larger one around here.

On GC connection: All through my years in the public school system, we went to Garrett College for various activities and shows. It [attending GC] was my idea from the beginning – it was definitely the starting point I wanted to have.

On Best GC memories: Spring Wildlife Club trip to Arizona: It was amazing. It's unbelievable out there.

Student Government Association Graduates

Tierra Jones

Tierra Jones, President

Emily Nichols

Emily Nichols, Vice President

Alexes Capan

Alexes Capan, Secretary

Charity Moser

Charity Moser, Sophomore Rep

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society Graduates

Zachary Friend

Zachary Friend

Charity Moser

Charity Moser

Emily Nichols

Emily Nichols

Jose Vitale Perez

Jose Vitale Perez

Destiny Jackson

Destiny Jackson

Tierra Jones

Tierra Jones

Brandon Rohrbaugh

Brandon Rohrbaugh

McKenzie Wotring

McKenzie Wotring

Veteran Graduates

Joshua Emery

Joshua Emery

Lora Teets

Lora Teets

Associate of Arts Degree

Arts and Sciences

Fine and Performing Arts Concentration

Katrina Marie Oester; Grantsville, MD

Liberal Arts Concentration

Ngoye Telema BobManuel; Accident, MD
Tierra Latriece Monique Jones; Waldorf, MD

Mathematics/Science Concentration

Zachary Keaton Friend; Swanton, MD, Summa Cum Laude
Cheyenne Lorraine Garrett; Accident, MD
Todd Everett Harding; Friendsville, MD, Summa Cum Laude
Destiny Dawn Jackson; Oakland, MD, Cum Laude
Matthew Levi Marsh; Oakland, MD
Kayley Jean Sisler; Friendsville, MD

Psychology Concentration

Olivia Rose Bonitz; Parkton, MD
Brandi Rae Greene; Mtn Lake Park, MD, Summa Cum Laude
Emily Marie Nichols; Frostburg, MD, Cum Laude
Lora Dawn Teets; Oakland, MD, Magna Cum Laude
Sara Brooke Weimer; Frostburg, MD, Magna Cum Laude

Social & Behavioral Sciences Concentration

LeAnn Nicole Beachy; Oakland, MD
Shana L Sines; Oakland, MD

Business Administration

Garrett Anthony Beaulieu; Grantsville, MD
Nicholas Scott Bishop; Jacksonville, FL
Taylor Michele Bolyard; Oakland, MD
Christopher Joseph Davis; Oakland, MD
Winston Thomas Davis; Bowie, MD
Merlon Willis Devine, II; La Plata, MD, Cum Laude
Kristy Lynne Goff; Terra Alta, WV, Magna Cum Laude
Elijah Timothy Hanible; Cheltenham, MD
Megan Nicole Koziarski; Oakland, MD
Brady Matthew Merrick; Oakland, MD
Andrew William Price; Salisbury, PA
Carly Marie Rodeheaver; McHenry, MD, Summa Cum Laude
Brandon Tyler Rohrbaugh; Oakland, MD, Summa Cum Laude
Desirea Dawn Smith; Grantsville, MD
Kylie Renee Smith; Oakland, MD
Leighanna Grace Wilhelm; Grantsville, MD, Cum Laude

General Studies

Bryson Lee Bittinger; Oakland, MD
Ryan James Bone; Frostburg, MD
Brianna Danielle Broadwater; Grantsville, MD
Stephanie Renee Bryner; Accident, MD
Shae Michael Caldwell; McHenry, MD
Olivia May Calhoun; Mtn Lake Park, MD, Summa Cum Laude
Alexes Louise Capan; Oakland, MD
Jaclyn Rose Chapman; Oakland, MD
Philip Andrew Checkes; Grantsville, MD
William Tanner Clark; Berkeley Springs, WV
James Edward Dornburg; Grantsville, MD
Daniel Patrick Duggan, Jr.; Swanton, MD
Alysha D'Nae Friend; Oakland, MD
Joshua James Jenkins; Oakland, MD
Colby Alexander Johnson; Frederick, MD
Andrew Darwin Kemp; Confluence, PA
Samantha BreAnn Kennell; Grantsville, MD
Charity Hope Moser; Grantsville, MD
David Ecker Mundey, IV; Berkeley Springs, WV
Alissa Faith Owens; McHenry, MD
Maclain Robert Raley; Grantsville, MD
Aaron Augustine Ross; Friendsville, MD
Nina Dawn Stoner; Oakland, MD
Tobi Neal Stoner; Oakland, MD
Abbrielle Brook Wilson; Oakland, MD
McKenzie Lakin Wotring; Oakland, MD, Magna Cum Laude

Teacher Education

Elementary Education Concentration

Brooke Grace Bennett; Confluence, PA
Alexis Desiree Kulcsar; Oakland, MD

Physical Education & Health/Coaching Concentration

Kyle Logan Armistead; Stephens City, VA

Secondary Education Concentration

Teri Lynn Macomber; Grantsville, MD

Associate of Arts in Teaching Degree

Eary Childhood Education / Special Education

Tatum Nicole Clevenger; Accident, MD, Magna Cum Laude

Elementary Education / Special Education

Larissa May Savage; Friendsville, MD, Cum Laude

Associate of Science Degree

Computer Science

Jose Mario Vitale Perez; Carabobo Valencia, VE, Cum Laude

Associate of Science in Engineering Degree

Electrical Engineering

Tanner Dakoda George; Winchester, VA
Jonathan Thomas Kirk; Terra Alta, WV

Associate of Applied Science Degree

Adventure Sports Management

Ekaterina Marie Clarke; McHenry, MD
Joshuah Phillip Doyle Emery; Rockville, MD, Magna Cum Laude
Kayla Evon Keplinger; Smithsburg, MD, Cum Laude
Colleen Patricia Yarnell; Salisbury, MD, Cum Laude
Gabrielle Anne Zerla; New Market, MD

Business & Information Technology

Business Management & Entrepreneurship Concentration

Alexander James Barkley; Confluence, PA, Cum Laude
Megan Ranae Barresi; Oakland, MD
Brycen Randy Bernard; Oakland, MD
Cara Marie Bittinger; Rawlings, MD
Aryssa Dawn Corby; Swanton, MD, Summa Cum Laude
Micah Stephen Friend; Mtn Lake Park, MD
Lyndsay Desiree Moreland; Bloomington, MD
Kevin Blake Salley, Jr.; Fort Lauderdale, FL

Computer Applications for Business Concentration

Travis J. Spear; Friendsville, MD

Graphic/Web Design Concentration

Jacob Carl Anderson; Grantsville, MD, Cum Laude
Alexander Harrison Baker; Oakland, MD, Cum Laude


Austin William Buckel; Grantsville, MD, Cum Laude
Dreama Lee Tennant; Fairmont, WV, Summa Cum Laude
Micah Charles Wotring; Aurora, WV

Network Administration Concentration

Duncan Michael Smith; Oakland, MD

Natural Resources & Wildlife Technology

Quinn Cooper Iden; Oakland, MD
Michael Allen Mosser; Oakland, MD

Sport Management

Noah Tyler Mankin; Uniontown, PA



Sohn Michael Cottrell; Westernport, MD

Class of FY2020 by the numbers

  • Graduates: 92
  • Youngest: 18
  • Oldest: 53
  • Average Age: 23
  • Average GPA: 3.15
  • % Garrett Co. Residents: 68.5%


40 students attended with the support of the Garrett County Scholarship program, at a cost of $272,286. The average total award amount was $6,807. Graduates include 1 international student from Carabobo Valencia, Venezuela

26 are graduating with honors (12 Cum Laude, 6 Magna Cum Laude, 8 Suma Cum Laude)

8 are graduating as members of the Garrett College Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society

Certification of the conferral of a degree is by receipt of a diploma or official transcript noting degree completion, not necessarily participation in the commencement ceremony.