Meko Carter gives Amber Bennett a congratulatory hug before the start of Concord University’s 137th commencement exercise Saturday at the Leslie R. and Ruby Webb Carter Center on the campus of Concord University.

“The friendly college on the campus beautiful” lived up to its slogan Saturday as Concord University hosted its 137th spring commencement exercises.

Graduates, faculty, administration and friends filled the Leslie R. and Ruby Webb Carter Center twice as the college hosted two different graduations to accommodate all of those attending the events honoring the 300-plus graduates. In the morning session, CU’s graduate students along with graduates of the School of Business and Education received their diplomas, while the afternoon session included graduates of the division of Languages and Literature, Natural Science, Social Sciences, Interdisciplinary Studies and Regents Bachelor of Arts.

Carrie Elizabeth Honaker of Ronceverte was recognized during both commencement ceremonies as the CU Class of 2012 valedictorian. Between sessions, she told Sarah Dalton of the CU Advancement office that she was “excited, honored and happy to be valedictorian of Concord University’s Class of 2012.” According to Dalton, Honaker intends to continue her education in music at the University of Tennessee in the fall.

CU President Dr. Gregory Aloia had a couple surprises to announce during the afternoon commencement program. First, he pointed out that U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., and his family were attending the ceremony. Rahall was attending to watch his niece, Karina Joal Rahall, receive her bachelor of arts degree in political science. Rahall’s mother, brother and sisters were among the family attending the ceremony.

The audience received the Rahall family with a warm round of applause, but they kicked it up a notch when Aloia mentioned that CU had been selected the No. 1 veteran-friendly university in America. He asked the three veterans graduating Saturday to stand and be recognized, prompting the audience to applaud even more vigorously. Aloia then announced that Melanie Kay Taylor, a five-year veteran who earned her Bachelor of Science degree in biology, cum laude, would receive the CU Veterans Graduate Scholarship, and plans to attend graduate school in the fall.

“This is my fourth year here,” Aloia said. “You’re graduating, and I’m still here.” The students responded with laughter.

Prior to the conferring of degrees, the representatives of several CU entities greeted the graduates. Frank L. Blackwell, chair of the CU board of governors, encouraged the graduates to continue on the road to success. “Some of the most successful people I know are Concord graduates,” he said.

Noah Dwight Barnette, president of the CU Alumni Association, provided some sage advice. “Go forth and land yourself a good-paying job so you can afford to support your parents in the manner in which they have become accustomed to.”

— Bill Archer is a reporter for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.



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