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All eyes are on the Class of 2016

  • Friday, December 16, 2016

    “All eyes are on you” 

    Dr. John Lamkin and his grandson John Russell Lamkin IVPRINCESS ANNE, MD. - (Dec. 16, 2016) - A brutally cold day could not penetrate the warmth and good cheer of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore's 20th winter graduation, where alumni rolls grew today by 318.

    Graduates heard uplifting messages from commencement speaker Tinisha Agramonte, who told of her life's experiences that turned her into a civil rights crusader, and from DaMisha Brown, who won an audition to deliver the student commentary.

    “We can change what we see, of this country, of ourselves,” Brown said. “Know that when you walk out of these doors today, all eyes are on you.”

    “Those eyes will be watching you through your ups and your downs,” the  English major  from Newark, Del. said. “Some eyes will only see your downs, but the change happens when you get up. We can change what is said about us.”  

    Among Brown's classmates was John Russell Lamkin IV, who had the unique experience of seeing his grandfather presented with the honorary title of “faculty emeritus.”

    The elder Lamkin taught music at UMES for 30 years before retiring in 2014.

    “It's an honor and privilege to have the opportunity to be here, let alone be at the same university as my grandfather,” said Lamkin, who majored in accounting.

    “I'm as proud of him as I know he is of me,” he said. “It couldn't make this day any better.”

    Also awarded faculty emeriti honors were social sciences professor Howard M. Rebach and education professor Karen A. Verbeke. Between the three retirees, they amassed some 98 years of service at UMES and more than 100 as educators.

    For the first time since being named in 2015 to lead the University System of Maryland, Chancellor Robert Caret attended a UMES commencement.

    "Life is an adventure,” Caret told the Class of 2016. “Use each day aggressively to pursue your dreams."

    Norman Blanco and Bobby Donson, golf management graduatesDream jobs await two  PGA golf management program graduates. Norman Blanco of New Orleans and Bobby Donson of Gaithersburg, Md. parlayed internships at the famed Pebble Beach golf resort in California earlier this year into jobs as assistant club pros. 

    “I'm trying to be humble about the whole experience,” Blanco said. “But, yeah, I have to pinch myself when I think about it.”

    Enrolling at UMES proved a turning point in Donson's life after an injury while playing college baseball at another institution short-circuited his desire to pursue that game as a career.

    “Being able to use what I've learned from hotel tourism management classes and golf management classes and tying it all in together has worked out perfectly,” Donson said of landing the Pebble Beach job. “It was a dream come true. It seemed like a perfect fit.”   

    Justin Meade, also of Gaithersburg, starts next week at his new job as deputy clerk at the Montgomery County courthouse.  

    “UMES was a great experience,” said Meade, who received a criminal justice degree. “I learned a lot here. It opened my eyes. It helped me become a man. I enjoyed my four years here.”   

    Connor Neville of Ocean City finished his undergraduate work in agriculture  in 3½ years. He returns to campus in January, where he's committed to working at least six months in the Global Information System lab as a technician while applying for graduate school, where he'd like to study landscape architecture.  

    Annette L. Kenney, agriculture graduate 2016Dr. Jurgen Schwarz, one of his professors, said the Henson Honors Program student was among the brightest students he's had the pleasure of teaching during his tenure at UMES. “He'll go far,” Schwarz said.   

    An agriculture graduate who did not have to go far to earn her degree was 50-year-old Annette L. Kenney of nearby Marion.  

    Kenney is the second youngest of 16 children, and the first among her siblings to earn a college degree. She enrolled at UMES following a work-related injury and called her time as an undergraduate “a true blessing.”  

    Kenney exemplifies a message Agramonte repeated for emphasis several times as the commencement's keynote speaker.   

    “We have the power to change our story,” she said. “There will be many people who will doubt you. Don't be one of them.”   

    Agramonte also ad-libbed briefly, turning to acknowledge Brown seated to her left and the message behind Brown's closing remarks in the student commentary, when she said, “We are the tangible evidence of our university's three pillars of success: Distinction, Investment and Opportunity.”


     UMES Office of Public Relations, (410) 621-2355