Jim Sánchez/ Conexión San Ángelo

SAN ANGELO–In the middle of July, school is typically out for the summer for just about everybody; except for one campus university, Park, where 12 nontraditional students ranging from military spouses, Veterans and active military, walked across the stage last Friday, July 15, to receive their degrees.

Janice Whited, M.E., campus site manager for Park University and serving as master of ceremonies, spoke with Conexión, regarding Park's role in the lives of the nontraditional student.
"Park University is a nonprofit, regionally accredited university out of Parkville, Missouri, which has 40 campus centers across the United States," Whited said. "Our campus centers excel at helping out the nontraditional student, who has a full-time job, and a family, trying to reach his or her educational goals in acquiring their degrees," said Whited.  

Whited stated that she could relate to what these nontraditional students went through.
"It was an emotional experience for me last year to see them graduate because as a nontraditional student, I understood the journey they went through, also as someone who has been advising them," said Whited. "I am so incredibly proud of them."

The commencement speaker was Mr. Roger Dusing, Chief Human Resources Officer at Park University. Dusing's speech to the 2016 class and their relatives in attendance was on the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.  The first agreement he touched on was, Be impeccable With Your Word. The second one was, Don't Take Anything Personally. The third agreement was Don't Make Assumptions; and the fourth one was, Always Do Your Best.
Dusing concluded his remarks, saying "Congratulations graduates, I wish you all the best in the next phase of life."

Park's 2016 class, graduated a total of 21. Of those, the following 12 nontraditional students, wearing cap and gown university colors of yellow and red, received their degrees: 

  • Jamal Abed Alkader,
  • Valerie Faz,
  • Charles Herron,
  • Ezzard Horn,
  • Casey Howell,
  • Randall Hunt,
  • Steven Jakus,
  • Kyra Lindsay,
  • Nicholas Penn,
  • Maginer Richardson,
  • Stephanie Sommers
  • Maria Torres

Other Park graduates who graduated, but did not walk the stage, were:

  • Stephen Burrows
  • Timothy Carroll
  • Emily Cornwell
  • Kevin Johnson
  • Sicily Opiana
  • Wilken Parra
  • Jennifer Shavrnoch
  • Christine Wasiewski
  • Elizabeth Chavez

Among the 12 was Stephanie Sommers, whose family--husband, Brandon, children Savanna and Braden were there to see her get her degree. 
Sommers. who graduated with a 4.0,  was asked what it meant for her to accomplish her academic goal. "It means the world to me, it really does." "This was my biggest dream, outside of having a family and I can really be proud of that," Sommers said.
Stephanie's husband, Brandon, a captain in the Air Force, who knows what it's like to get a degree, said, "I am extremely proud of her dedication in achieving this milestone." 

The graduation ceremonies were held at the Base Theater, Scherz Boulevard, Building 812, located at Goodfellow Air Force Base.