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70-Year-Old Completes Degree; Deaf Nigerian Woman Asks for Return of Kidnapped Students; Atlanta Woman Overcomes Brain Injury

U.S. Reps Steny Hoyer and Elijah Cummings, Maj. Gen. Roderick Isler Deliver Keynote Addresses

ADELPHI, Md. (May 18, 2014)—University of Maryland University College celebrated its 2014 stateside commencement with three ceremonies at the Comcast Center in College Park, Md., May 17 and 18. Of the 9,461 stateside graduates in the Class of 2014, more than 3,100 attended the three ceremonies.

Highlights from the student speakers:

"Whatever your goals, it's never too late. I know, because I turned 70 this year."

— Beverly Butler. She earned a B.A. in Communication Studies.

"In Nigeria, deaf people are really never expected to succeed in education. Many deaf children, especially girls, end up on the streets … since I can remember, my family believed in me. They truly believed that deafness could not and should not prevent me from dreaming and doing."

— Kudiratu Usman. She earned a Master of International Management.

"Less than two years ago—on what would have been an otherwise quiet Friday evening in October 2012—I was driving home from work when…I was rear-ended at full-speed by a fully-loaded 18-wheeler. As I stuttered my words and tears rolled down my cheeks, I thought about my education and career goals as a doctor told me I had suffered a traumatic brain injury." Her charge to her fellow graduates: "Be persistent, and never give up."

— Lucy Michelle Laramie. She earned a Master of Science in Management.

Also, highlights from the keynote addresses:

After a rousing description of his experience as a child and meeting with a counselor who questioned his ability to succeed in in school—and with a nod to the communication tools of today—Rep. Elijah Cummings said: "Tweet this: Out of my pain came my passion to do my purpose."

Rep. Steny Hoyer, who visited UMUC's Academic Center in Largo earlier in the year, said he was "struck by the diverse array of students from all over the world who have taken advantage of the unique opportunity and window of education that is UMUC." He added "an education isn't a collection, but a pursuit. A pursuit without end."

Maj. Gen. Rod Isler (U.S. Army, Ret.) inspired the graduates by encouraging them to remember "what a great day it is for you," and "to get started on the journey and don't stop here. Go on to continue your education, and don't forget the little guy. Be ready to set an example and help people to achieve the same level of success you have achieved."

Profile of the UMUC stateside Class of 2014:

  • 1,346 graduates are active-duty military servicemembers.
  • 1,028 graduates earned degrees in cybersecurity-related programs.
  • 777 will graduate with Honors (Magna Cum Laude, Summa Cum Laude, Cum Laude).
  • Graduates represent all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 19 countries.
UMUC enrolls about 90,000 students around the world, including more than 50,000 students who are active duty military personnel and their families overseas. In addition to the three stateside ceremonies on May 17-18, the University conducted official commencement ceremonies in Okinawa (April 19) and Tokyo (April 12), Japan; Seoul, South Korea (April 26); Kaiserslautern, Germany (May 3); and Guam (May 17). Overall, more than 11,000 UMUC degrees were conferred around the world.

Check out messages, photos and stories from UMUC graduates on Facebook and follow the conversation on Twitter using #UMUCGrad.