News Garrett College Celebrates 52nd Commencement - Garrett College
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Campus News

May 18th, 2024

Garrett College celebrates 52nd commencement

May lauds fellow graduates' ability to ‘persevere and reach our goals'

52nd commencement

Photo by: Hannah Sickles

Garrett College conducted its 52nd commencement Saturday morning, with a graduating class of 128 members.

Delivering a five-minute commencement speech initially seemed like a daunting task to Nakayla May, who served as student speaker for Saturday's 52nd commencement at Garret College.

Until she put those 300 seconds into perspective.

"Five minutes is barely two Harry Styles songs," reasoned May. "It's about the amount of time required to microwave a frozen pizza or wait for a hamburger in the cafeteria."

May made good use of her five minutes, imparting four lessons to her fellow graduates.

"Life goes by too quickly to take part in something we are not passionate about," said the Oakland resident, who advised her classmates to find their passion.

"My second lesson I learned was that it's OK to have a Plan B, or even C," said May, who is taking her own advice by entering Frostburg State University's nursing program after earning a degree from Garrett College in cybersecurity.

"The third lesson is that we will be both learners and teachers," May said. "We all came here to learn, whether it be from our professors, our peers, or even ourselves. . . . I hope you take your education from here, and any advice you've been given, and apply it wisely."

May said the final lesson she learned is "we can persevere and reach our goals."

"We have all endured obstacles," said May. "But you know what else we did? We earned our degrees."

May and 127 classmates received degrees, with the youngest being 16 and the oldest being 70 years old. The Class of 2024 combined for a 3.25 grade-point average.

Over half of the graduates – 66 in total – attended GC with the support of the Garrett County Scholarship Program, with a total of $288,192 awarded in GCSP aid. The average total award amount was $4,366 per student, with 57 of the 66 starting at Garrett College through High School Dual Enrollment.

Ninety of the 128 graduates (70 percent) are Garrett County residents, and 31 (24 percent) also played at least one intercollegiate sport for the Lakers.

Nineteen were members of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, with PTK member Dustin Keller (Oakland) named to the All-Maryland Academic Team. Forty-four students graduated with honors and nine graduated with a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade-point average.

Three of those high-achieving students with perfect GPAs – May, Anna Martin (Accident), and Ryan Busch (Accident) – shared the award for highest grade-point average. Students must complete at least 60 credit hours through Garrett College in a degree program to qualify.

The George C. Edwards Outstanding Transfer Student Award went to Tyler Sweitzer (Swanton) while Martin took the Wendell R. Beitzel Career Advancement Student Award. Two other faculty awards – renamed for President Emeritus Stephen Herman and Dean Emerita Lillian Mitchell – were also bestowed.

The Dr. Stephen Herman Leadership and Excellence Award went to Wood Clodfelter (Accident), and the Dr. Lillian Mitchell Inspiration and Excellence Award went to Rodney Reckart (Oakland). Reckart and Brenda Skipper were also acknowledged for their military service.

The Male and Female Scholar Athletes of the Year went to McHenry resident Zachary Hallenbeck (baseball) and Martin (women's soccer), respectively.

Carolyn Deniker, who spent 32 years as a faculty member before retiring in 2022, was awarded Professor Emerita status. Deniker and husband Roy are Accident residents.

The 52nd Garrett College commencement stream vod is available by browsing the link below.