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UMB Holds Ceremonies for Class of 2014

As the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) held commencement ceremonies on May 16 for the Class of 2014, speakers urged the graduates to go forward secure in their preparation yet ever questioning the value of their contributions to others.

"What's your work? What is your purpose?" commencement speaker Wes Moore, MLitt, asked the graduates, challenging them to build careers that would provide gratifying replies at some point in the future. In his remarks, the best-selling author and entrepreneur said they should be concerned not so much where they will work but to whom it will matter that they did so.

(See our Commencement 2014 photo gallery.)

Moore's address was but one part of a day of pageantry and pride for about 1,450 graduates of the University's schools of dentistry, law, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and social work and of the Graduate School. The commencement ceremony, held at the Baltimore Arena, followed earlier convocations and celebrations for individual schools and disciplines.

Governor Martin O'Malley, JD, a UMB alumnus who graduated in 1988 from what is now the UM Carey School of Law, addressed the School of Medicine at the Baltimore Convention Center. "Today is about you. Today is about taking a moment to give you and your families a chance to think about all that you have accomplished so far," he said. "For you, I hope your life will be lived in the eyes of the people that you are called to touch and to heal and to serve."

Across the city, another alum who has become a public official addressed the School of Social Work (SSW) Class of 2014 at the Patricia and Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric. "Sustain your idealism," said Tisha Edwards, JD, MSW, interim chief executive officer of the Baltimore City Public Schools. She earned her degree in social work in 2000 and her law degree in 2001.

The law school held its hooding ceremony at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, while the Graduate School had held its hooding ceremony on May 15 at the Southern Management Corporation Campus Center. The School of Nursing assembled at the Arena; the School of Dentistry at the Meyerhoff; the School of Pharmacy at the Hilton Baltimore.

The University's traditional procession from the Plaza Park was canceled due to inclement weather, and the day began a rainy one. But by the time of the main event, the skies had cleared so that there was nothing to dampen the finery, or the jubilation, of the many families and friends of graduates, such as Victoria Daka, JD '14, shown in the photo above.

President Jay A. Perman, MD, in presiding over the ceremonies at the Arena, took notice of the supporters of the Class of 2014 and urged its members to do the same. "See the people who have helped to bring you to this day," he said to a wave of applause.

Jim Shea, chair of the Board of Regents, represented the University System of Maryland. "The education that you have gotten here has prepared you well," he told the Class of 2014. He praised UMB for its flourishing schools, and multiple accomplishments under Perman's leadership. These include community involvement and development of the city's Westside, entrepreneurship as exemplified by the UM BioPark, and collaborative engagement that is represented by University of Maryland: Mpowering the State.

Three recipients of honorary degrees were lauded for their exemplary work. An honorary doctorate of public service was bestowed upon Geraldine "Polly" Bednash, PhD, RN, FAAN, executive director of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing; Michael Cryor, MS, president of The Cryor Group, LLC, and chair, SOM Board of Visitors; and Jack Shonkoff, MD, director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.

Justin Taylor of the Graduate School and president of the University Student Government Association was the student remarker. He urged his peers to renew their connections with one another in the future.

Looking forward was on the minds of many in the Class of 2014 including Hannah Church of Ellicott City, Md., who earned a Bachelor of Nursing degree to help her pursue the goal that she had set while completing an earlier degree. Having been moved by children at a special needs camp, she wanted to care for kids. And what is she about to do? "Pediatrics," she replied proudly.

Gavin Michaels, DDS '14, is looking forward to returning to his home state of North Carolina to begin a career in private practice. "This feels like a huge weight coming off my shoulders. Dental school has been a long road, but I'm proud to reach this point," he said.

For Hannah Saulsbury, RDH '14, the next chapter in improving oral health will take place among the underserved on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. "I want to use what I've learned to help those in need," she said.

David Knipp, MD '14, said, "This is a day that we have looked forward to for four very long years, a day that most of us have looked forward to since we were just children." In his case, he had elders to emulate, being the first ever fifth-generation Maryland medical school graduate. His great-great-grandfather was in the Class of 1887. "I couldn't be prouder to be part of the Knipp family and carry on the medical legacy that we have here in Baltimore.

"I was never pushed into medicine. I came about it through my own passions, and I think that is the way it should be. And because of that, I will enjoy practicing medicine for years to come," he said. Like his dad, he will specialize in radiology.

Onstage at the Arena was David's father, Harry Knipp, MD, FACR, who graduated in 1976 and is a member of the SOM Board of Visitors and a trustee of the University of Maryland Baltimore Foundation, Inc.

Laura Dunn, JD '14, will continue to work toward ending campus sexual assault, a cause she has championed since became a victim as an undergraduate. In 2012 she founded a nonprofit and as a Carey Law student, she worked on a provision of the Violence Against Women Act that requires colleges and universities to investigate reports of violence and mandates programs for sexual assault and domestic violence education.

Nkem Nonyel, PharmD '14, of Bowie, Md., is a dual degree student also enrolled in the Master of Public Health program, which she plans to complete later. During the course of her studies, she was saddend by the death of her brother. "I am a single mother of four children, and I desired so much to give a bright future to my children. I could not think of a better way to do so than to return to my lifelong career aspiration, the pharmacy profession," she said. Nonyel will spend the next year as a pharmacy practice resident at Holy Cross Hospital, Silver Spring, Md.

Loney Nguyen, MSW '14, intends to support victims of child neglect and wants her achievements to send a message to anyone who stereotypes or underestimates the potential of foster youth. As a teen in child protective services, she was mentored by a circle of adults who became an extended family. Among those who came to the SSW convocation was Nguyen's first social worker, Monica Kraus, MSW. "She told me I was a star, and I believed her," Nguyen said.

Nguyen stands in the front row in the photo below with LaToria Hickmon-Kern, founder and executive director, WHALER's Creation; middle row, left to right, Lt. Jason Moore, U.S. Army National Guard, who is Nguyen's fiance; Kraus; and Errol Bolden, PhD, MSW, chair of the Department of Social Work at Coppin State University; back row, Shirley Newton-Guest, PhD, MSW, associate professor at Coppin; and Akiba Freeman, MSW, and Walter O'Neil, MSW, both of Challengers Independent Living.

Loney Nguyen and mentors

Posting Date: 05/16/2014
Contact Name: Patricia Fanning
Contact Phone: 410-706-7946
Contact Email: pfanning@umaryland.edu