WEST LIBERTY - Local businessman Leslie DeFelice took inspiration Saturday from the popular movie "The Graduate" when addressing West Liberty University's 337 spring graduates - the university's largest graduating class since the 1980s.
"In this movie a young graduate is taken by a neighborhood friend who says 'I want to say just one word to you - plastics. There's a great future in plastics,'" DeFelice recited. "There are always substitutes for the next big thing. You may be told it is cybersecurity, financial analyst, software developer ... On your graduation I want to solemnly look you in the eye and say in one word the key to success and happiness - you."
During the ceremony, WLU President Robin Capehart presented DeFelice with a Doctor of Humane Letters degree for his success and dedication to the local community. DeFelice earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration at what was then West Liberty State College and is now the owner of several businesses including, DeFeliceCare and Visiting Angels.
337 GRADUATES — West Liberty University graduated its largest class since the 1980s at the 2013 spring commencement ceremony. -- Sarah Harmon
DeFelice urged the graduates the key to success in any endeavor after graduation is "to put yourself last" saying his success in business can be attributed to addressing the needs of employees before his own.
"In everything you do, it must not be about you," DeFelice said. "Today is about you, but tomorrow has to be about everyone else."
Graduating senior Joshua P. Smith told his class he didn't know what to think when he first made the drive up the twists and turns of W.Va. 88, but soon came to call the school home.
"I've seen West Liberty grow," Smith said. "It's not so much that there is an increase in enrollment, but what is behind it. Here I learned to think in more than just one dimension and it is here that I found my potential."
Capehart advised the class to stay in touch with the university after graduation and to value the memories of the school.
"You will be missed and you will not be forgotten," Capehart said.
WLU Board of Governors Chairman Richard Carter said it was fitting the graduation ceremony occurred on Mother's Day weekend, since mothers play an integral role in a young adult's education. He wished the graduates luck in their endeavors.
"May success follow you through your life," Carter said. "Go forth and do great things."
Area graduates at WLU include:
Chester: Jessica Darlene Crighton, Rebecca Louise Juszczak, Carly D. Lowers, Brittany Ann Raineri, Courtney Christine Shaffer, Kylee Marie Utt, Anthony Joseph Viola II.
Follansbee: Melanie R. Behanna, Lauren E. Boettcher, Katelyn E. Childers, Francesca M. Fuscardo, Bryan M. Gasaway, Nicolette Rene Ludewig, Clayton Scott Paris, Jesse Leigh Schwertfeger, Jarrod Shaw, David J. Syrylo, Ashley Elizabeth Zago.
New Cumberland: Nicole Faye Tibbs.
Newell: Megan Watson Eckleberry.
Weirton: Ashley Lyn Anderson, Colin Charles Bennett, Steven Joseph Buffo, Jennifer M. Cooper, Johnathan Pilgram Dennis, Kristen Renee Dotson, George William Douglas, Jeremy Richard Eloi, William Howard Eyler, Stephanie A. Gaillas, Tara M. Gajtka, Krista Marie Groves, Rachel Lynn Knutsen, Alex Louis Kuntupis, Christina Rene Lauck, Joshua Ryan Patitz, Heather Dawn Pulver, Hope A. Roberts, Tyler William Rodgers, Ashley Nicole Rusk, Jessica Marie Smalley, Amanda Anne Vice, Chelsea Danielle Virden, Sydney Rae Vuiller, Amanda J. Young.
Wellsburg: Joshua B. Aracich, Marjorie Pauline Boyd, Jaclyn Nichole Cody, Alexa Rae Hunter, Stacy Marie Kasprowicz, Sigourney Nicole Kokosinski, Devon Renee Leonard, Lisa Marie Mazzella, Hannah Elizabeth Ohler, Megan Lynn Pollock, Jaimie Lynn Santora, Bryan J. Spruill, Charles C. Taylor Jr., Jillian Marie Weekley, Kassidy Grace Wells.
Windsor Heights: Benjamin Kyle Smith.
Adena: Sherry Denise Borsos.
Bergholz: Holly M. Carson.
Bloomingdale: Ezekial C. Blake, Rachel N. Lewis.
Cadiz: Kendra Paige Morris.
Carrollton: Kaylee Ann Baker, Joshua Dylan Graham.
Flushing: Kelsay Breann Jendrusik.
Irondale: Brittany Jo Champion.
Mingo Junction: Jordan Alexandra Edwards, Charlene Longwell, Kristen Marie Sabatino.
Richmond: Robert W. Stewart Jr.
Salineville: Julia R. Saling.
Steubenville: Alyssa J. Frye, Catherine L. McLane, Jessica Meadows, David Justin Mosti, Brittany Michele Penman.
Toronto: Clint Marshall Chevalier, Joshua Costlow, Kayla Nicole Firm.
Wintersville: Kelli Rae Barker, Jessica Elizabeth Bennett, Jennifer Lynnae Cottis, Daniel M. Davis, Danielle Maria Gamble, Sarah Eileen Thompson, Mark A. Thornley.
Burgettstown: Danielle Nicole Thorne.