Western Md. graduates reminded to be kind TV's Bob Keeshan among speakers as five colleges hold ceremonies


A retired general, as in Powell, and a retired captain, as in Kangaroo, were among the commencement speakers yesterday as more than 1,700 graduates received degrees at five Maryland colleges.

"Don't ever for one moment underestimate your power as an individual to change the world," Bob Keeshan, star of the "Captain Kangaroo" television show, told about 320 graduates of Western Maryland College in Westminster.

Keeshan, who remains active in children's causes, received warm applause from the crowd of about 3,000.

His show aired from 1955 to 1985, dispensing lessons that ranged from the virtues of honesty to the dangers of swimming alone. "Captain Kangaroo" remains the longest-running network children's program. Fans still remember his warm manner, long sideburns and cast of friends that included Mr. Green Jeans.

Keeshan finished his brief remarks to the college this way: "One last thing I ask of you, and that is kindness. I ask you to separate yourself from the generation that is all around. If we become truly the 'In your face' society, we will have no future as a society. So please, whatever you do, do well, but also do it with kindness and with gentleness."

Bowie State

About 50 miles south, in the U.S. Air Arena in Prince George's County, retired Gen. Colin L. Powell told about 900 Bowie State University students that they are entering a world where the United States' enemies have become its economic competitors.

In the past, armies charged across borders. Today, it is data, wealth, ideals and values that are charging across them, he said.

"I want you to see this as a time of hope and opportunity," he told the crowd, which clapped so often that he joked: "The more you applaud, the shorter I will be."

Washington Bible College

At nearby Washington Bible College and Capital Bible Seminary in Lanham, 61 students received undergraduate and graduate degrees, including three students from Kenya.

They listened to remarks from Col. Winfield Dickinson Buzby Jr., a U.S. Army chaplain.

Maryland Bible College

In Baltimore, 48 students received degrees from Maryland Bible College and Seminary -- including 21 students from foreign countries. The Rev. E. V. Hill, pastor of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, delivered the commencement address.

Notre Dame

And at the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore, ABC television reporter Cokie Roberts and poet Gwendolyn Brooks spoke to about 500 graduates.

Roberts urged the primarily female audience to remember the women who helped break ground for their careers.

"Never before in human history have women had such opportunity in the world of work as you have before you today," Roberts said.

"Do, if necessary, what's never been done before -- that's pioneering," added Brooks, whose latest book, "Children Coming Home," is a volume of poetry about elementary school children coming home from school. "Do your own thinking. Do your own investigating. And ask yourself and others questions about everything."

Brooks took time to recognize a unique couple of graduates -- Linda and Greig Stevens.

Their story began in 1969, when he went to her house to watch a Baltimore Colts game. The two became Parkville High School sweethearts and were married in 1970 on Valentine's day.

But neither went to college -- she stayed home to raise their two children while he went to work.

In fall 1992, they started at Notre Dame, going to classes on weekends. She pursued a degree in business while he pursued one in history.

Yesterday, after receiving diplomas, they hugged on the stage. Said Linda Stevens, "We're best friends."

Pub Date: 5/26/96

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