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Wittenberg’s School of Community Education Graduates Distinguished 2011 Class

May 11, 2011  
 Filed in Community, Featured

Seats will be saved in Commencement Hollow for some of the university's most cherished graduates from the School of Community Education.

Springfield, Ohio – Among the hundreds of Wittenberg University students who cross the stage in picturesque Commencement Hollow during the university’s annual graduation ceremony, the loudest cheers commonly arise for “non-traditional” students who earn their degrees through the School of Community Education (SCE).

In most cases, graduating SCE students have juggled families, jobs, school and various other life challenges, and their stories are moving examples of perseverance and dedication. As family members voice their approval, students in the program frequently reflect fondly on the top-flight academic opportunities SCE presents outside of the traditional framework.

During Wittenberg’s 2011 Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 14, some of those cheers will be offered for Dan Smith, who started his post-secondary education in 2004 and became an All-North Coast Athletic Conference offensive lineman for the Tiger football team. Since his playing days ended, he has worked in Wittenberg’s Physical Plant and as a volunteer coach for the nationally ranked Tigers, and he resumed his studies through SCE in 2009.

Many SCE students transfer to Wittenberg from one or more schools, and some endure lengthy commutes to attend classes. Despite the obstacles, eight of the 16 SCE graduates in 2011 have also gained membership in Wittenberg’s Eta chapter of Alpha Sigma Lambda (ASL), the national adult honorary. That includes Jeff Henning, who persisted in obtaining his degree despite a heart attack and ensuing cardiac therapy.

Each year, numerous SCE graduates earn Latin honors cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude, which signify students with grade point averages of 3.5 or higher while studying in a wide range of majors. Their stories are often similar to that of Trisha Zawada, who transferred just six credits to Wittenberg in January 2005. Six years later, the mother of three whose husband is a member of Springfield’s Police Department has achieved her academic goal while receiving the Excellence Award in Liberal Studies for Organizational Leadership.

Commencement is the final day of an academic journey for SCE graduates, the culmination of years of determination, diligence and dedication. And for that, much applause is warranted.

Written By: Ryan Maurer
Photo By: Erin Pence

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