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‘Make the world a better place’: McDaniel College hosts outdoor graduations for classes of 2020, ‘21

Two graduating classes were celebrated at McDaniel College’s stadium on Saturday, the class of 2020 and the class of 2021.

At 10 a.m. May 22, the 150th commencement took place for the class of 2020. Students returned to their alma mater for the traditional event since last year’s was canceled due to the pandemic. The 151st commencement, for the class of 2021, happened afterward, starting at 2 p.m. It was the first time the ceremony took place outdoors, at Kenneth R. Gill Stadium.

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The college’s outgoing president, Roger Casey, was the speaker for the class of 2020 ceremony. He was awarded an honorary degree and told graduates to “take care of your me so that you can do good for the we.”

“McDaniel has learned so much from knowing you,” he said in his speech. “Our world has so much to gain from your lives ahead. It has been an honor serving you as your president. Me. We. I am McDaniel. We are McDaniel.”

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McDaniel College president Dr. Roger Casey greets the graduates, faculty and guests during the commencement ceremony for the Class of 2021 on Saturday, May 22, 2021.
McDaniel College president Dr. Roger Casey greets the graduates, faculty and guests during the commencement ceremony for the Class of 2021 on Saturday, May 22, 2021. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

Mary Lynn Durham and her husband, Bill Roj, both 1970 alumni, were speakers for the class of 2021 ceremony and honorary degree recipients. Durham is an attorney and the vice chair of McDaniel’s board of trustees. And Roj is chairman, president and CEO of ERICO, a leading global manufacturer.

Durham spoke about the power of imagination and how it led to the programs at McDaniel and students’ success. Roj spoke about the privilege of a college education and the importance of people who accompany them on life’s journey. He told graduates to consider the question, “What is the impact of this decision on the people I am selecting for, or excluding from, my life’s journey and how do I feel about it?”

Ed Singer, Carroll County health officer and 1987 alumnus, was given the Trustee Alumni Award during the 2021 ceremony. He commended the college for getting through the year without any major COVID-19 outbreaks, then spoke about the things he learned in college that he still carries with him to this day: problem-solving principals and the importance of personal and professional relationships.

“Use your skills to help solve problems and make the world a better place,” he told graduates “Be nice to other people and you will create relationships that will change your life for the better. And do both of these things at the same time by getting vaccinated.”

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For the class of 2021, 372 people received their bachelor’s degrees and 215 received their master’s degrees. For the class of 2020, 325 received their Bachelor’s and 230 received their master’s.

Members of McDaniel's Class of 2021 process onto the stadium field in the school's first outdoor commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 22, 2021.
Members of McDaniel's Class of 2021 process onto the stadium field in the school's first outdoor commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 22, 2021. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

The 2021 recipient of the Argonaut Award, which is given to a graduating senior with the highest cumulative grade point average, is Julia Kate Dunn, a psychology major from Reisterstown. She was also the recipient of the Edith Farr Ridington Writing Award, given to graduating seniors who write the best papers, for her paper titled “Adjusting to College During a Pandemic: The Relationship Between First-Year College Adjustment, Threat Perception of COVID-19, and Parental Attachment.”

Fellow 2021 graduate Mikayla R. Lee, an English major and secondary education minor from Columbia, also received the award for her paper titled “People Love Prison: ‘Orange is the New Black’ and the Prison Curiosity Complex.”

The 2021 B. Jill Brooks Hodge Professional Development Award, which is awarded to a graduate student who demonstrated academic excellence with a compassion for individuals with special needs and an interest in serving people who are deaf or disabled, was Pershea Renea Jefferson of Virginia Beach, Virginia, who studied deaf education as a graduate student.

Graduates and guests sit in chairs on the stadium field during the outdoor commencement ceremony for the Class of 2021 at McDaniel College on Saturday, May 22, 2021.
Graduates and guests sit in chairs on the stadium field during the outdoor commencement ceremony for the Class of 2021 at McDaniel College on Saturday, May 22, 2021. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

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