WHEELING - Valedictorian Samuel Shepherd Sr. is one of 406 new college graduates, following West Virginia Northern Community College's commencement, May 13.
"We are achievers - not just dreamers," Shepherd told the audience at Wheeling's WesBanco Arena, where graduates from the Wheeling, Weirton and New Martinsville campuses gathered with their friends, families and alumni to celebrate the occasion.
Noting he has overcome the challenge of being laid off from a transportation company in 2009 while having to worry about supporting his family, Shepherd urged fellow graduates to persevere in the face of adversity.
"We just don't know what lies ahead," he noted. "Don't let fear paralyze you."
The college awarded 473 certificates, associate in arts, associate in science and associate in applied science degrees. Some students received more than one degree or certificate.
Beri Fox, chief executive officer of Paden City-based Marble King Inc., served as speaker for the commencement, telling graduates, "You need to stretch beyond what you think are your limits."
"With every challenge you face, there is also an opportunity," she said. "If there were ever a time to dare to make a difference, the time is now."
Fox describes herself as a staunch believer in the American dream, and is passionate about sharing her enthusiasm for a "unified, non-partisan effort" to re-build prosperity in America's small business and manufacturing arena.
Fox has promoted her vision for her business, her community and her state to a wide and diversified audience. During the past six months she has appeared on multiple New York City-based TV programs.
"I hope that you, at some point in your life, will lean forward," she added. "Every journey starts with a single step."
Vicki Riley, WVNCC's vice president for academic affairs, help present the diplomas. She added, "The college has an unwavering commitment to academic achievement."
Kyrie Straight, the college's student representative to its board of governors, said, "As a student at West Virginia Northern Community College, I know that you have worked very hard to be in these hats."
"Your hurdle may look different than mine, but we all overcame them to wear these caps and gowns," she added.
State Sen. Orphy Klempa, D-Ohio, was named the 2011 Distinguished Alumnus by the college's Alumni Association. Klempa, who graduated from Northern in 2004 with an associate of applied science degree in occupational development, is service representative of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters West Virginia District (Wheeling area).
Local graduates include:
Colliers - Marty R. Longwell.
Follansbee - Danielle Nicole Anderson, Lauren Boettcher, Loretta J. Brynza, Robert M. Canei, Thomas R. Faessel, Mara Elizabeth Jackson, Alissa Loebig, Meshelle L. Seminsky, Mark Ceglie, Amanda Heck, Lawrence E. Pearce II, Laura C. Scheetz.
Weirton - Anna Akis, Julia Ayers, Earle Alexander Bell, Katie Zuccaro Brown, Morgan Lynn Bunkley, Rebecca Rose Byers, Sarah M. Chiodi, Emmett D. Cooper, Georgeanna Davis, Lorenzo Joseph DeCaria, Melissa Ann DeLong, Amy R. Dowler, Jennifer Ellis, Kristen Fabianich, Ronald L. Ferrell, Louis Eugene Hans, Andrew J. Iarossi, Jayce Jerrel, Louis S. Lagod, Sierra B Leavitt, Nicole M. Loar, Alexis McAllister, Stacy M. Niven, Kristina Reed, Jerry G. Richards, Jessica Lynn Stickles, Phillip S. Sutton, Lisa Ann Tice, Stacy Lynn Walker, Melissa Wetterau, Paulette K. Wright, Amanda Jane Young, Taylor Yoho, Timothy Blount, Mary P. Mueller, Amanda Yoder.
Wellsburg - Lori Brady, Daniel K. Gilchrist, Brittney Lee Henthorn, Stacy Marie Kasprowicz, Rebecca Jane Kirkman, Joilene M. Lish, Helena Marie Palmer, Sigourney Nicole Tabor, Elizabeth A. Barlow Vetanze.
Beech Bottom - Jennifer McBride.
Weirton - Tiffany Board, Bonnie Dehner, R. Jason Lenox, Alana McKitrick, Scott E. Russell, Kathleen May Stone, Andrea M. Strosnider, Paulette K. Wright.
Wellsburg - Lori Brady, Miranda J. Hamrick.
West Liberty - Matthew S. McCartney.
New Martinsville Campus
Weirton - Don R. Weekley.