WEST LIBERTY - At 63, Robert Peterson Sr. of Wheeling wasnt sure he wanted to walk across the West Liberty University stage on Saturday alongside the much younger members of the universitys Class of 2012.
But after his professors and classmates told him how proud they were of his achievements, the former steel mill supervisor, donned his cap and gown and accepted his bachelors degree from West Libs School of Professional Studies during the commencement exercise Saturday morning. His accomplishment in attaining his goal to graduate college was just one of the many success stories that resulted from the 175th graduating class at WLU.
Graduating senior Victoria Lavorini spoke to her classmates, noting that while it was difficult to know everyone in the class, she and the others could relate to the individual experiences of everyone there, from the single mother working toward her degree to the non-traditional student making a career change due to economic trends.
BIG DAY ARRIVES — The West Liberty University graduates assembled for commencement exercises Saturday morning. The graduates listened as WLU President Robin Capehart stressed friendships, success.
We all face difficult situations, but our success means weve overcome the difficulties, Lavorini commented. Think of all you have overcome to get here today.
WLU President Robin Capehart urged the 291 graduates to treasure the friendships they have made at the university.
The measure of success is how many of the friends around you today are still your friends years from now, Capehart said.
He suggested that the new graduates take time to read the obituaries in the newspaper and pay attention to the truly successful people. The most successful people are those whose lives took twists and turns, who overcame setbacks. Dont strive to be great. Strive to do great things. Be a great employee or employer,. 4H leader or Little League coach.
During the ceremony Saturday, two cherished members of the WLU faculty were presented honorary degrees in appreciation of their service. Alfred R. deJagger and James W. Watson were bestowed the honors.
deJagger has been with the university for 46 years and served as chairman of the music and fine arts departments. He led the WLU Choir in a glorious rendition of Battle of Jericho.
As a child growing up near New York City, deJagger recalled his first trip to West Liberty in 1966, noting he never saw so many cows as he made his way to the campus. He said WLUs growing success can be attributed to staying true to its core values and keeping up with changing times.
Watson, a 41-year veteran of the university, serves as athletic director, leading the school through major changes in athletic facilities, programs and championships including 10 baseball program titles and the universitys growth from NAIA to NCAA Division sports. His experience handling a crumbling fieldhouse to finding the means to build the state-of-the-art $10.5 million Academic, Sports and Recreation Complex makes him a believer in perseverance and urged the students to do the same.
He told the graduating class to take a bad thing and make it better.
Philip Stahl of the alumni association asked the graduates to stay connected to the university in the future and remember where you came from.
Brian Joseph, from the WLU Board of Governors, said with their degrees in hand and education complete, the students should "go invent your dreams."
Area WLU graduates are:
Bethany: Pamela Joy Keener, Ayaka Oba.
Colliers: Melinda Sue Howell, Robert S. Owens.
Follansbee: Scott Joseph Bonaventura, Daniel T. Clevenger Jr., Kristi Nicole Hardesty, Amy Lou Ludewig, Christopher A. Nemeth, Allison Marie Shorts, Mark Dane Skidmore, Lindsey E. Utz, Jeremy Thomas Whitt.
New Cumberland: Katy Richelle Decker, Kylie Raye Emfinger, Chad J. Hines, Corinne Alice Laughlin, Ashley Marie McIntosh, Robert Todd Mehaffey, Brianna Jean Nichols, Nicole Faye Tibbs, Christopher Dale Tice.
New Manchester: Lisa Elizabeth Edgell.
Newell: Lauren Elizabeth McIntosh.
Weirton: Matthew A. Arlia, Ryan Anthony Brown, Marquise Tyrrell Campbell, Shannon La Rae Carr, Desiree Michele Dennis, Emily J. Gurrera, Kameron Marie Haga, Amy Jo Hamilton, Ashleigh Kristen Lancaster, Douglas Michael Mato, Daniel William McWhorter, Stephanie Marie Myers, Matthew D. Nagy, Anthony D. Rees, Christine Alaire Taylor.
Wellsburg: Jessica Nichole Andrews, Brianna N. Cowan, Kaitlin E. Gagich, Karen L. Hervey, Alesha Renae Misch, Anthony Tyler Pepe, Deidra Elisabeth Polega.
Windsor Heights: Natalie Jo Klempa, Michelle R. Mills.
Adena: Kara Leigh Lucarelli.
Carrollton: Hillary Nicole Galbraith, Kylie M. Leggett.
Dillonvale: Joshua W. Gardner.
Hopedale: Kimberly Lynn Eckroth.
Salineville: Joshua L. Beadnell.
Scio: Lindsay Rae Hartzell.
Steubenville: Brandon R. Anderson, Briana Lynn Kanoskie, Persephoni August Martin, Kimberly Diane Straker.
Toronto: Kiley Danielle Cernansky, Lindsay Marie Ludewig.
Wintersville: Hope Allison Bullard, Amanda Marie Valero.
Yorkville: Jennifer Elda Murray.
Avella: Megan Lynn Russell.