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Spring 2024 Grad Walk Celebrates a Transformational Milestone

Mary Dempsey
By Mary Dempsey
  • Commencement |
  • News

Perseverance and resilience. That is what will be on display as more than 2,200 students step on stage to receive their doctorate, master’s, bachelor’s and associate degrees during spring Grad Walk at University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC).

Graduates who signed up for UMGC’s signature in-person commencement activities May 9-12 in Adelphi, Maryland, are among the nearly 14,000 new UMGC graduates around the world, and they are celebrating more than their new academic degrees. They are showing the world that they pushed forward—despite births and illnesses, despite relocations and demanding jobs, despite life’s other unexpected challenges—to pursue their dreams.

Some are the first graduates in their families to earn a degree and they are reshaping how higher education is viewed by their siblings, nieces and nephews, children and grandchildren. Others are finishing what they started, sometimes decades after their original plans for a college degree were derailed. Still others, like Rita and Edward Yawson, are immigrants who want a chance to contribute in a meaningful way to their new country.

The Yawsons enrolled in bachelor’s programs at the same time and stayed with their studies, even through the birth of a daughter—Rita completed one of her course papers after checking into the hospital for that delivery—and the arrival of twins.

There are also many students like India King-Hamilton, who turned to education to ensure the financial security of their families. King-Hamilton enrolled at UMGC after worrying how she would support two children following the death of her husband. She graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Human Resources Management.

Although a degree was the goal of these students, many are taking away with them much more. Jasmin Gause and Donunshae Baker lived several time zones apart while working together on a virtual assignment for a course in their master’s degree program. Their collaboration turned into a lasting friendship. They coordinated their plans so they could attend Grad Walk on the same day. It is the first time they will meet in person.

Grad Walk is a personalized, friends-and-family-focused tradition that UMGC launched during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than a stream of graduates processing across the stage all at once, UMGC grads at Grad Walk choose a specific time to receive their recognition, with family and friends close to the stage. That doesn’t mean it is a quiet milestone. Cheering and applause are such an indispensable part of the activities that the venue for the degree conferrals includes a Celebration Room.

UMGC’s latest graduates join a global alumni network of more than 294,000 people, and each has a story. Meet some of the members of the Class of 2024.

For John Henry Nguyen, UMGC Opened Door to Coveted Career 

Elizabeth Blakesley's Graduation Finishes What She Started 30 Years Ago

Daniel Burnett Wants to Build a Bridge Between the Deaf Community and the Financial World

Maryland Born and Hawaii Resident Jasmin Gause Receives Master's Degree

Deployment and a Death Put Brittany Adjei on Her Academic Journey

Rita and Edward Yawson Start a Family, Including Twins, on the Way to UMGC Degrees

Jaimon Graves Cater Connects Military Service and UMGC Degree to Public Engagement

A Devistating Loss Motivated India King-Hamilton to Pursue a Degree

Janine Smith Completes Doctorate and Realizes Decades-long Dream