For this Flashback, we asked you to share your graduation memories. We received a variety of recollections — some very sweet, others funny but all entertaining. We’ve gathered a few here and hope you enjoy these Mountaineers’ graduation tales as much as we did.
My husband and I met at WVU in the mechanical engineering department. It was our junior year, and Ron ran for class president. I remember being very impressed with his speech and then later on with how friendly he was to everyone – plus it didn’t hurt that I found him very attractive. Ron graduated that spring and I graduated in December 1983 but went back in May of 1984 for the ceremony. Just before we headed over to the Coliseum, Ron reached into our car and pulled out a small box and tossed it to me, saying “Here, I got you something.” That something turned out to be an engagement ring. After that, I don’t remember all that much from the graduation ceremony except waving to some friends and pointing to my ring. We were married on April 13, 1985, so this spring we celebrated our 30th anniversary.
Bridgid Staub, BS ’12, Child Development and Family Studies, thinks back fondly to her graduation when she got that iconic photo we all took this time of year in front of Woodburn Hall. Now a Dallas-based flight attendant, Staub proudly wears her WVU pin on her uniform, which was noticed when she met President Gee at the Pittsburgh, Pa., airport. “It was great to see a familiar face!” Staub said.
I graduated from the College of Agriculture and Forestry in 1983. We sat close to the stage in the Coliseum. A friend of mine carried in a bottle of champagne that had the seal removed, but the cork was still in place. She sat the bottle on the floor beside her chair. As President Gee stepped to the podium to make remarks, the cork popped from the bottle and flew by his head. Without missing a beat, Gee simply said, “You missed.”
I originally went to WVU in 1991, but did not complete my degree – a huge regret. When I decided to go back in 2008, WVU welcomed me with open arms. I attended classes online and had Dr. Evan Widders as my adviser. We had numerous phone conversations, but had never met in person. On my graduation day I thanked him for everything he had done to help me. As I proceeded back to my seat Dr. Widders searched me out, and we had a five-minute conversation. Not only did that make my graduation special but further cemented the relationship and bond that I have with WVU. Thanks Dr. Widders for turning a long-awaited and special day in my life into one that words simply cannot do justice.
May 15, 1995, was a big day for me – probably the biggest in my life up to that point. I was 22 years old and four years of college and three of Air Force ROTC were culminating in two massive life moments: commissioning and graduation. The moment was extra special for me because my two sisters would be “pinning” me with the shiny gold 2nd lieutenant bars that my grandfather – sick and dying, but still there to share the moment – wore when he was a bombardier on a B-24 Liberator during World War II. At the large commencement ceremony in the WVU Coliseum, Mr. Fred Rogers – the beloved “Mr. Rogers” from our childhood – would be our keynote speaker. The first words he uttered were, “Won’t you sing with me?” The crowd of thousands immediately broke into “Please Won’t You Be My Neighbor.” What a perfect capstone to childhood. I was an officer and a man now, and within a month I’d be reporting to my new commander at my first duty station: McChord Air Force Base, just outside Tacoma, Wash. I’ll be retiring from active service on July 1 and have zero regrets.
In December 2014 I graduated from WVU with my bachelor’s degree, and I will begin medical school at WVU in August. However, my graduation wasn’t just about me. In the 1970s, both of my parents started attending WVU, but due to family obligations, my dad did not graduate. As the years passed, my mom, my sister and my brother all earned multiple degrees from WVU. During my last semester of college, I tried to convince my dad to enroll again and finish that degree he began all those years ago. He did. At the age of 62, my dad, Tim King, got his Regents Bachelor of Arts from WVU. On Dec. 19, 2014, my dad and I, his youngest kid, got to walk across the graduation stage together. His wife, mom, kids and grandkids couldn’t be more proud. Now my entire family has their degrees from WVU. It’s a family tradition.
The part that Allyn didn’t mention is that when Dr. Gee handed me my diploma he hugged me and whispered in my ear, “It’s about damn time.” Gotta love Dr. Gee.
I grew up without a father, so my grandparents picked up the slack. I was extremely close to my grandpa, Peewag, and he was so, so, so proud of me for going to college. He would always tell me, “Study, study, study!” He went into the hospital in June 2013 and was diagnosed with cancer. He passed away that fall. I wanted him so badly to be able to watch me graduate this May. But when I feel like throwing my hands up and quitting, I just think of how proud he was and how important this was to him and put one foot in front of the other until graduation. That’s why graduation means so much to me.
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