Retiring Davis & Elkins College President G.T. "Buck" Smith got up close and personal with the 2013 graduates at the school's 104th annual commencement ceremonies Saturday.
Serving as the commencement speaker, Smith left the stage to walk down on the seating floor with the graduates, delivering his comments to them face to face.
"I have a written speech up there," he said, gesturing to the stage as the students laughed. "I'll mail it to you."
The Inter-Mountain photo by Brad Johnson
Davis & Elkins President G.T. ‘Buck’ Smith leaves the stage to speak face to face with the graduates at D&E’s commencement ceremonies Saturday.
Instead, Smith quoted to them the last line of "El Dorado," an essay by Robert Louis Stevenson: "For to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labor."
Smith said the quotation was not only a sentiment to live by, but also a favorite maxim of Ward M. Canaday, a manufacturing leader whose company originally developed the Jeep automobile.
Smith said as a young man he'd met Canaday in the 1960s, when the manufacturer quoted the line to him. Canaday told Smith he'd read the essay when he was a student at Harvard decades ago, but had never been able to find a book containing the passage since then.
Smith made it his mission, as he traveled across the country in the following months for his job, to find the essay, searching libraries and book stores along the way. He finally discovered the essay in a library, copied it longhand, typed it up and sent it to Canaday, who was so moved that he and Smith became lifelong friends.
Smith offered other advice to the graduates as well.
"Don't talk all the time," he said. "Ask questions. Your education isn't over.
"Don't worry so much about the world you're going out into," Smith said. "Look inside. Be sure of what you're taking out into the world. Know that person ever so well."
D&E officials honored Smith during the ceremony. thanking him for his many accomplishments over the past five years. Smith was presented with a portrait of himself and his wife, Joni, by Dr. Joseph M. Roidt, vice president for academic affairs.
An honorary doctor of letters degree was conferred to John C. Allen, Jr., the author of the award-winning "Uncommon Vernacular: The Early Houses of Jefferson County, West Virginia, 1735-1835," during Saturday's ceremonies at Harper-McNeeley Auditorium.
Valedictorian Shannon Nicole Neuenschwander of Dalton, Ohio and Salutatorian Ellis C. Wyatt of Harman also spoke during the ceremonies.
Students taking part in commencement Saturday included Bachelor of Arts graduates Brittany Anderson, Frankfort, Ill., Amber Aponte-Kocela, Hainesport, N.J., Eric Allen Armstrong, Elkins, Kristi D. Aylor, Madison, Va., Morgan E. Barkley, Hampstead, Md., Courtney Bartlett, Montrose, Lacy Jo Bennett, Seneca Rocks, Crystal A. Bible, Elkins, James Patrick Bohon, Montrose, Sarah Nicole Booth, Philippi, Brandi A. Brown, Allison Park, Pa., Shade Charles Combs, South Point, Ohio, Katee Renae Conaway, St. Marys, Zachary Scott Corcoran, Elkins, Scott Dielman, Alexandria, Va., Tanika Kay Dunz, Buckeye, Barbara Fellenstein, Fredericksburg, Va., Alison B. Hamrick, Mabie, Joshua Zackery Handrahan, Fairfax, Va., Owen A. Harnett, Reno, Nev., Jenny B. Hart, Beverly, Shana Henline, Davis, Sara Kathryn Hill, Charleston, Ashleigh Renee Hornick, Elkins, Issa Ilboudo, Mogtedo, Burkina Faso, Joshua A. Kehr, Clear Spring, Md., Brandon Preston Knicely, Elkins, Ashley Ellen Kodluk, Swedesboro, N.J., Jason Thomas Mallow, Durbin, John Nathan McDonald, Port Republic, Va., Megan R. Moreno, Burlington, Samantha LeeAnn Morse, Charleston, Moises Oseguera, Oliverhurst, Calif., Nicholas Parsons, Belington, David S. Pepper, Vienna, Va., Adam V. Posey, Elkins, Jonathan Ragan, Henry, Va., Holly Elizabeth Smith, Valley Bend, Zachary S. Snyder, Hambleton, Andre Max Soussan, Derwood, Md., Ruby Marie Stathers, Marietta, Ohio, Justin G. Tanner, Elkins, Breena Kathleen Tillman, Colorado Springs, Col., Alexander Jonathan Torres, Annandale, Va., Ann Page Turner, Poquoson, Va., Samantha Ranee Underwood, Montrose, and Heather Anne Zapf, Yorktown, Va.
Bachelor of Science graduates included Brady Wilson Albee, Elkins, Matthew Barr, Williamstown, N.J., Franklin L. Baxa, Buckhannon, Stephanie Dawn Bennett, Red Creek, Shane A. Brown, Jr., Columbia, Md., Christopher Lee Davis, Elkins, Carissa Janette Dunn, Ceres, Calif., Kevin Matthew Eliason, Goochland, Va., Lauren Rachelle Elmer, Elkins, Meaghan Renae Emery, Manassas, Va., Breanna L. Eskew, Buckhannon, Barbara Fellenstein, Fredericksburg, Andrew Thomas Ford, Duncansville, Pa., Sarah Lorraine Fyock, Masontown, Pa., Kelsey Rosa Gilbert, Parsons, Lindsay R. Gonsman, Newry, Pa., Yanery Hidalgo-David,. Caracas, Venezuela, Paolo Ivis, Pula, Croatia, Dylan Erick Jones, Triangle, Va., Scott Thomas Jones, Williamsburg, Va., Jenifer Nicole Kennon, Rowland Heights, Calif., Aaron Wayne Kittle, Dailey, Dustin Charles Mathers, Hampstead, Md., Andrew Ryan Morris, Parkersburg, Michael Matthew Mroz, West Mifflin, Pa., Patrick Shane Myers, Montrose, Rebecca Price, Camden, N.Y., Anthony Robert Ragos, Montclair, Va., Rachel Nicole Schramm, Elkins, Clarissa Shreves, Mill Creek, Aliou Sow, Arlington, Va., Derek Paul Sparks, Williamstown, JoAnna Michaelle Summerfield, Mill Creek, Samantha Jo Tallman, Elkins, Alexander Ross Taylor, Huttonsville, Katrina Lynn Tiedeman, Jarrettsville, Md., Brianna Tipton, Spencer, Phuong Tran, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, Amy Turner, Glen Allen, Va., Megan Maria Warner, Elkins, Jason Wood, Upper Darby, Pa., and Corey B. Woody, Elkins.
Associate in Arts graduates included Randlyn Danielle Campbell, Volga, Kevin Matthew Eliason, Goochland, Va., Danielle Caroline Gooding, Slatyfork, Katy Davis McClane, Elkins, Dustin Lee Taylor, Valley Bend, and Wesley Franklin Taylor, Elkins.
Associate in Science graduates included Kristina Bikoulova, Alexandria, Va., Nicholas A. Chewning, Mabie, Kimberly D. Coleman, Green Bank, Lynnette Marie Cross, Elkins, James A. Fortney III, Beverly, Caree Rachael Alyse Glasscock, Elkins, Cheryl Kay Gragg, Elkins, Christina Faith Harlan, Elkins, Samantha Marie Howell, Belington, Bevin Rae Hull, Parsons, Natalie R. Kniffen, Elkins, Rebecca A. Marsh, Buckhannon, Brandon Scott McCrobie, Rowlesburg, Gina Renee Nolte, Buckhannon, Carrie L. Ogden-Bonner, Bowden, Sabrina Payne, Volga, Andrey Popov, Alexandria, Whitney Nicole Sharp, Valley Head, Lila S. Sharpes, Salem, Mari Cathern Sours, Luray, Va., Robin C. Stillwater, Bowerston, Ohio, Anna Teresa Tavolacci, Elkins, Mattie R. Tenda, Clarksburg, and Casandra Anne Wallace, Elkins.