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The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson Speaks at SMCM Commencement

440 Graduates - 39 from St. Mary’s County
May 18, 2010
Press Release #10-115

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Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer-Prize-winning associate editor and columnist for The Washington Post, delivered the 2010 Commencement speech at St. Mary's College of Maryland this past Saturday to 440 graduating seniors, including 39 students from St. Mary's County.  Robinson received an honorary degree along with Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery Director Martin Sullivan and Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William Baker.  Henry Ross Wixon, of Glendale, Maryland, was the valedictorian.

"I'm so impressed with how the students at St. Mary's College have learned critical thinking," said Robinson in his address.  "You might get the idea that thinking is a dying art listening to TV pundits.  Now we have "magical" thinking: bumper sticker thinking.  The problems of our country require sharp and forward, long-range, thinking.  We cannot run this country on bumper sticker thinking." 

Acting president Larry Vote spoke about the passing of Lucille Clifton, a beloved professor and former Maryland poet laureate.

"This transitional period you begin today has been foreshadowed by a familiar presence on campus," said Vote.  "As you climbed the stairs to the Great Room daily, you brushed by the poem devoted to your next phase.  The author of this poem, "blessing the boats [at St. Mary's]" had been a treasured member of our community until her recent passing....Lucille Clifton's contribution to the world of letters deepened our experience of St. Mary's and as we considered ways to honor her time with us, we could think of nothing better than allowing her voice, her inimitable voice, to add to your transition away from St. Mary's into the greater world of career, love, and what you define for yourselves. I ask all of us to take a moment to listen to Lucille Clifton read her gift to us, "blessing the boats [at St. Mary's]."

The crowd of about 4,000 listened to an audio recording of Clifton reading her poem.

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back    may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

Robinson, who has been with The Washington Post for 30 years, began his career writing for the University of Michigan's school newspaper, The Michigan Daily. His first foray into professional journalism was covering the trial of Patty Hearst, daughter of printing magnate William Randolph Hearst. 

In 1980, Robinson signed on with The Washington Post as a city hall reporter.  He worked up the ranks within the paper, becoming an assistant city editor, city editor, South America correspondent, London bureau chief, foreign editor and most recently, associate editor. Robinson has been writing his opinion columns on Tuesdays and Fridays since 2005. The series of articles that won the Pulitzer focused on the 2008 presidential election, and were described by the judges as "showcasing graceful writing and grasp of the larger picture."

Martin Sullivan is the director of the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. Sullivan was the chief executive officer of the Historic St. Mary's City Commission from 1999 to 2008, where he oversaw the preservation of Maryland's first capital and coordinated academic programs in public history and museum studies.

William Baker has worked for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation since 1976, and has been the president since 1982. With a $22-million annual budget and more than 200,000 members from all 50 states and 14 other countries, Baker leads the largest non-profit conservation organization dedicated solely to preserving, protecting, and restoring the Chesapeake Bay.

The following students graduated from St. Mary's County:

Bertrand Tankpinour Adanve, of Lexington Park, graduated with a bachelor of arts in chemistry and a double minor in mathematics and biology.  Adanve graduated cum laude and also received a Nitze Scholars Program Commendation.  The Nitze Scholars Program at SMCM is designed for highly motivated students with exceptional academic potential and a proven record of leadership and service.

Alexandra Leigh Anderson, of Leonardtown, graduated with a bachelor of arts in biology.

Courtney E. Antemann, of St. Inigoes, graduated with a bachelor of arts in economics.

Maxwell Philip Bloch, of St. Mary's City, graduated with a bachelor of arts in mathematics and a minor in theater studies.

Tiffany Monique Brown, of Hollywood, graduated with a bachelor of arts in art.

Nicholas Charles Bruno, of California, graduated with a bachelor of arts in chemistry.

Connie Patricia Cardwell, of Great Mills, graduated with a bachelor of arts in psychology and a minor in educational studies.

William Joseph Clements, Jr., graduated with a bachelor of arts in economics and a minor in history.

Shannon Wong Cummings, of Leonardtown, graduated with a bachelor of arts in music and a minor in educational studies.  Cummings graduated magna cum laude.

Layne Ashley Curry, of St. Inigoes, graduated with a bachelor of arts in international languages and cultures.  Curry graduated cum laude. 

Adam Richard Davis, of Lexington Park, graduated with a bachelor of arts in biology.

Douglas E. Decker, of Mechanicsville, graduated with a bachelor of arts in biology.

Jacob R. Dytche, of Lexington Park, graduated with a bachelor of arts in political science.

Molly Elizabeth Gates, of Great Mills, graduated with a bachelor of arts in international languages and cultures.  Gates graduated magna cum laude.

Philip Gibson, of Leonardtown, graduated with a bachelor of arts in human studies.

Justin Matthew Gittings, of Hollywood, graduated with a bachelor of arts in biology.  Gittings graduated cum laude.

Anna G. von Gohren, of Leonardtown, graduated with a bachelor of arts in English and international languages and cultures for Spanish.  Von Gohren graduated summa cum laude  and was elected to the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa, an organization recognizing individuals for scholarly achievement, broad cultural interests, and good character. 

Stephanie Elizabeth Hartwick, of Lexington Park, graduated with a bachelor of arts in chemistry.

Megan Andrea Howell, of Mechanicsville, graduated with a bachelor of arts in music and a minor in educational studies.  Howell graduated cum laude.
 
Shane Burke Johnson, of Leonardtown, graduated with a bachelor of arts in chemistry and a minor in biology.
 
Tricia Anne Johnson, of Hollywood, graduated with a bachelor of arts in psychology.  Johnson graduated magna cum laude.

Lyle Anthony Kralle, of Great Mills, graduated with a bachelor of arts in economics.

Sarah Marie Lanzi, of California, graduated with a bachelor of arts in psychology and a minor in educational studies.

Larry Lydon Loukota, of Leonardtown, graduated with a bachelor of arts in religious studies.

Jacqueline Louann Mastney, of Lexington Park, graduated with a bachelor of arts in biology and anthropology.

Rachel Ann Mauck, of Hollywood, graduated with a bachelor of arts in psychology.

Ashley Alexandra Miller, of California, graduated with a bachelor of arts in art.

Emily Ann Myers, of Hollywood, graduated with a bachelor of arts in psychology and English.  Myers graduated cum laude.

Kate Julia Pollasch-Thames, of St. Mary's City, graduated with a bachelor of arts in art.

Ashley Ann Ridgeway, of Lexington Park, graduated with a bachelor of arts in English.  Ridgeway graduated magna cum laude.

Geneva Rose Rogers, of Great Mills, graduated with a bachelor of arts in history.
Rogers graduated magna cum laude.

Mariel Sylvia Saez, of Leonardtown, graduated with a bachelor of arts in economics.  Saez graduated magna cum laude. 

Judith Marie Schmidt, of Leonardtown, graduated with a bachelor of arts in human studies.  Schmidt graduated summa cum laude.

John Wheeler Sharpless, of Park Hall, graduated with a bachelor of arts in economics.

Kelly A. Skrabacz, of Leonardtown, graduated with a bachelor of arts in biology.

Brian David Stephenson, of Leonardtown, graduated with a bachelor of arts in human studies.  Stephenson graduated cum laude.

Benjamin Drury Thompson, of California, graduated with a bachelor of arts in mathematics.

Eric Allen Variz, of Mechanicsville, graduated with a bachelor of arts in history and a minor in educational studies.  Variz graduated magna cum laude.

Laura Elizabeth Wigginton, of Valley Lee, graduated with a bachelor of arts in history.

Lydia Jean Zweimiller, of Great Mills, graduated with a bachelor of arts in biology.  Zweimiller graduated magna cum laude.

St. Mary's College of Maryland, designated the Maryland state honors college in 1992, is ranked one of the best liberal arts schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger's, and The Princeton Review. Founded in 1840 as Maryland's "monument school" commemorating the state's first capital, SMCM is the state's only public honors college.

More than 2,000 students attend the college, which has the highest graduation rate for all Maryland public colleges and universities. The school's waterfront campus along the St. Mary's River in Southern Maryland is home to the 2009 National Intercollegiate Sailing Association Co-ed champions.

Category: Student Body