ELKINS - Two Davis & Elkins College Upward Bound alumni, Carrie (Ogden) Bonner and Jodi Pitsenbarger, delivered the commencement address to the 47 graduates of the Upward Bound class of 2014. Graduates, their families and friends, along with sophomores and juniors in the program, attended the ceremony in The McDonnell Center.
A registered nurse at Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital, Bonner reminded the class that pursuing their dreams, especially those of a college education, can be achieved at any age.
Bonner graduated from D&E with an Associate of Science degree in nursing in 2013 after working as a Licensed Practical Nurse for 17 years.
Members of the Davis & Elkins College Upward Bound class of 2014 are, from left, first row, Eric Bruce, Evan Arrington, Mariah Bowley, Abbey Lambert, Kristin Greene, Anson Hatfield, Macey Hedrick, Ceirra Robinson and Tori Louk; second row, Justin Propst, Matt Nibblins, Tyler Louk, Mason Ariola, Kaylee Edwards, Allison Ruddle, Autumn Guenette, Marisa Shine, Sonja Skinner, Kirsten Helmick and Ashley Robinson; third row, Rachel McComb, Amanda Phillips, Troy Young, Clayton Mallow, Lilly Tracy, Paige Pritt, Kara Lane, Kayla Harris, Nicole Jackson and Savannah Toney; fourth row, Brittany Wentz, D.J. Smith, Grayson Prince, Denali Hedrick and Dakota Mitchell. Graduates not pictured are Chris Alt, Owen Arbogast, Dustin Dilley, Fredricah Gardner, Priscilla Grimes, Emily Hefner, Elizabeth Kelley, Jordyn McDaniel, Danielle Ray, Josh Thompson, Alayna Wesoloski and Shannon Whitehair.
She joined D&E Upward Bound during its first funding cycle in 1990 when the program served only Randolph County. She graduated from Harman High School and earned her Certified Nursing Assistant and Licensed Practical Nurse certificates from Randolph County Vocational Technical Center. She later started college, but withdrew after the first semester.
"It is never too late. even as parents, you can go to college," Bonner told the class. "As students, don't give up on yourself don't be afraid to find, ask and seek out help. Don't give up on your dreams."
Pitsenbarger, a 2012 graduate of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University, also emphasized to the students to believe in themselves and continue to follow their dreams.
"People you meet along the way, as you go into college, may try to judge you because of the way you grew up, because you didn't have the means or opportunities that they had growing up. They may tell you that you can't accomplish your goals because of who you are or where you are from," Pitsenbarger said. "Don't listen to them. You can and will do these things as long as you believe you can and continue to try and work hard."
Pitsenbarger participated in D&E Upward Bound's first grant cycle for Pendleton and Pocahontas counties. She graduated valedictorian of Pendleton County High School in 2004 and attended Marshall University as a John Marshall Scholar. After graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical science from Marshall, she was accepted in the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. She is in her second year of residency in pediatrics and recently was appointed chief resident.
The 47 members of the 2014 Davis & Elkins College Upward Bound class are: Elkins High School, Mason Ariola, Autumn Bonnell, Kirsten Helmick, Nicole Jackson, Danielle Ray and Sonja Skinner; Harman High School, Christopher Alt, Macey Dodrill and Clayton Mallow; Tygarts Valley High School, Owen Arbogast, Abbey Lambert, Tori Louk, Tyler Louk, Paige Pritt, Ashley Robinson and Savannah Toney; Philip Barbour High School, Jordyn McDaniel, Dakota Mitchell, Grayson Prince, Ceirra Robinson, Marisa Shine, DJ Smith and Brittany Wentz; Tucker County High School, Mariah Bowley, Amanda Phillips, Joshua Thompson, Alayna Wesoloski, Shannon Whitehair and Troy Young; Pendleton County High School, Evan Arrington, Eric Bruce, Kaylee Edwards, Kristin Greene, Kayla Harris, Denali Hedrick, Matthew Nibblins, Justin Propst and Allison Ruddle; and Pocahontas County High School, Dustin Dilley, Fredricah Gardner, Priscilla Grimes, Anson Hatfield, Emily Hefner, Elizabeth Kelley, Kara Lane, Rachel McComb and Lilly Tracy.
Upward Bound is designed to prepare first generation and low-income students for postsecondary education. D&E hosts two of the high school Upward Bound programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education serving Randolph, Barbour, Tucker, Pendleton and Pocahontas counties.
The holistic program encourages students to perform well in high school and strengthen the competencies and skills needed to succeed in college. Nationally, Upward Bound grew out of President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty and is celebrating 50 years, 1964-2014.
For more information regarding the Davis & Elkins College Upward Bound programs, visit www.deubwv.com or call the main office at 800-642-3157, extension 1389.
For more information, please visit the D&E website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.