Rio celebrates 137th commencement

RIO GRANDE, Ohio – The clouds broke, rain ceased and sunshine blessed the 407 graduates of the 137th Commencement of the University of Rio Grande / Rio Grande Community College on Saturday.

One by one – Valerie Cangemi, Masters of Business Administration, to Nathan Young, Associate’s of Power Plant Mechanical Maintenance and Welding – the graduates crossed the stage gracing the lawn in front of Allen Hall on the Rio Grande campus to receive their personal congratulation from President Dr. Barbara Gellman-Danley. Associate’s Degrees, Bachelor’s Degrees and Masters Degrees totally 439 were conferred, with 329 recipients in attendance.

Festivities began at noon with Concert on the Green, compliment of the Symphonic Band and Grande Chorale. Friends and family of the graduates gathered to celebrate the accomplishments and savor the memories.

Among the many highlights was the traditional closing performance of the alma mater, The Red and White, led by the Grande Chorale and accompanied by the Class of 2013.

“It’s really bad singing,” Professor and Commencement Grand Marshal Raymond C. Matura chuckled. “A lot of people don’t really know all the words, but it’s a tradition that is somewhat unique. It’s been going on for well over 100 years.”

Saturday also featured a couple firsts for Rio Grande. Bradley Altier, Sheri Marcum, Andrea Merry and Whitney Smith became the first Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry recipients, while Amanda Fretus, Michael Gilliland, Brittany Haislop and Brandi Pinkstock became the first graduates produced by the McArthur Center in Vinton County.

In all, 238 Associate’s Degrees, 160 Bachelor’s Degrees and 41 Masters Degrees were conferred to students representing at least nine states – Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia – Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom.

The various degrees spanned more than 70 disciplines ranging from Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing to Associate’s in Visual Arts, and Bachelor’s of Science in Information Technology. They also included the Meigs Center’s fourth graduating class.

Dr. Gellman-Danley reminded faculty, staff and invited guest during the annual President’s Brunch that commencement “is the day for which we work the other 364. So please, celebrate and enjoy.”

Then during commencement, Dr. Gellman-Danley continued her tradition of writing a poem for the graduating class. While the entire poem can be read at, it closed with:

“As the hourglass of time turns, passionately remember.
The matchstick of your memories borne in southeastern Ohio.
Will light the path that leads you home – to your dear ole Rio.”


The Commencement Speaker was State Representative Ryan Smith, of Bidwell, who has passionately supported education and Rio Grande since taking office.

While Rep. Smith praised the graduates for their accomplishment and Rio Grande for its commitment to education and economic development throughout southeastern Ohio, he also challenged the Class of 2013.

“This institution has prepared you to be successful … (but) make no mistake, you will fail at something in your life,” Rep. Smith said. “Your experiences in life shape who you are as a person. It is through failure where we find our most valuable lessons.

“When an opportunity presents itself, take advantage of it. For opportunity is not a lengthy visitor.”

Rep. Smith and University of Rio Grande Board of Trustees Chairman Gerald E. Roach Jr. each received honorary Doctorates of Public Service for their unwavering dedication and support of Rio Grande.