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Thursday, May 8, 2014

SU Spring Commencement May 21-22 Includes Inaugural Graduate Ceremony

Kelli Wilhelm David Eberius Sarah O'Malley
Wilhelm Eberius O'Malley
SALISBURY, MD---For the first time in Salisbury University’s 88-year history, graduate students have their own ceremony during SU’s Spring Commencement exercises.

Graduate students receive their diplomas 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 21. Undergraduates follow on Thursday, May 22. Students in the Richard A. Henson School of Science and Technology and Samuel W. and Marilyn C. Seidel School of Education and Professional Studies turn their tassels at 10 a.m. Students in the Charles R. and Martha N. Fulton School of Liberal Arts and Franklin P. Perdue School of Business cross the stage at 2:30 p.m. All ceremonies are at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center.

Some 1,465 receive the Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Arts in Social Work. Some 173 receive master’s degrees.

Kelli Wilhelm of Avilton, MD, joins her fellow students as the speaker for the graduate ceremony. Undergraduate ceremony speakers are David Eberius of Bel Air, MD, at 10 a.m. and Sarah O’Malley of Columbia, MD, at 2:30 p.m.

Also honored during the morning ceremony are the 2014 President’s Distinguished Community Leadership Award recipients. Community advocate Lee Whaley receives this year’s individual award, while the Richard A. Henson Foundation is recognized with the organizational honor.

Wilhelm came to SU to pursue an M.A. in English literature after earning her B.S. in English and psychology at Frostburg State University. At first, she wasn’t sure if she made the right decision — then, her mother gave her some inspiring advice: “Either you’re going to quit, or you’re going to do it.”

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Never seeing herself as a quitter, Wilhelm persevered … and considers herself better for the experience. She received some help along the way, from professors including Dr. Lucy Morrison, whom she cited as an influence.

At SU, Wilhelm not only defended her thesis, focusing on early 19th century poets’ and novelists’ reactions to the French Revolution, but also taught composition and research as a teaching assistant in the undergraduate classroom. Hoping to continue teaching at the university level, she has been accepted to the Ph.D. program at West Virginia University.

Among undergraduates, some 717 receive their diplomas during the morning ceremony on May 22. They will hear from Eberius, who considered just two schools to further his education and chose SU over the University of Maryland, College Park, due to its small-school feel and an invitation he received from the Bellavance Honors Program. Joining the honors program, he said, was one of his best decisions.

The computer science major, who has presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research and participated in National Science Foundation-funded programs at SU, was inspired by many faculty, including former Honors Living Learning Community leader Charlotte England, as well as Drs. Don Spickler in the Mathematics and Computer Science Department and Art Lembo, his research mentor, in the Geography and Geosciences Department.

He offers simple advice for his fellow graduates: “If you enjoy something, go for it. Don’t think that you can’t do it.”

After leaving SU, Eberius will pursue his M.S. in computer science at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, where he will serve as a research assistant in the school’s Innovative Computing Laboratory. Eventually, he hopes to earn his Ph.D. and teach at the university level … but not before gaining hands-on experience in the computer industry, possibly as a software designer.

In the afternoon, O’Malley joins some 747 graduates. She decided to attend SU after her first visit to campus. She was so impressed by the guide who took her group on their tour that she ultimately followed in her footsteps, becoming a tour guide herself.

“I have loved Salisbury more every year,” she said.

The art major credited SU’s faculty with living up to the expectations set by that first visit. Her biggest influences include Jeanne Anderton and Somiah Lattimore of the Art Department. Her experiences at SU encouraged her to stay in the area after graduation. In Salisbury, she hopes to join other SU students and recent graduates in creating a for-profit arts collective.

Admission to Commencement is by ticket only. A reception at the Civic Center follows each ceremony. For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU website at

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