ELKINS - Davis & Elkins College celebrated its 105th annual Commencement Ceremony Saturday morning at the Claude King Davis Memorial Plaza on the school's campus.
The ceremony was the first outdoor service at the school since 1973 and included the presentation of diplomas to 189 graduating students, the conferring of two honorary degrees and a speech by guest speaker John Quinones.
Quinones is a 30-year veteran of ABC News, predominantly serving as a correspondent for "Primetime Live" and "20/20." He now is the sole anchor of the series "What Would You Do?" a show that documents how people react in, sometimes uncomfortable, situations.
The 2014 Davis & Elkins College graduating class awaits the school’s 105th Commencement Ceremony Saturday morning in the Claude King Davis Memorial Plaza. (The Inter-Mountain photo by Tim MacVean)
The Inter-Mountain Publisher and General Manager Heather Goodwin Henline, right, receives her honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Davis & Elkins College Vice President for Academic Affairs Joseph Roidt. (The Inter-Mountain photo by Tim MacVean)
John Quinones (The Inter-Mountain photo by Tim MacVean)
Members of the Davis & Elkins College 2014 graduating class walk into the Claude King Davis Memorial Plaza Saturday morning for the schools 105th Commencement Ceremony. (The Inter-Mountain photo by Tim MacVean)
Quinones talked to the students about overcoming challenges and following their dreams, no matter who or what may stand in their path.
"Take it from me, and if you take anything from this talk this morning, success, so much of success, so much of making it, is a state of mind. When you are faced with challenges, and no doubt you will be faced with more challenges, keep reminding yourself that you are worthy," Quinones said. "When someone tries to bring you down, they are just projecting their own problems and failings on you. Pay them no mind. Ignore them."
"Instead, surround yourself with people who believe in you," Quinones added. "Yes, you are going to have to do a lot of hard work and persevere, and all that, because in the end, it will make you a better person for it, but you also have to, in your own mind, envision yourself a success."
Quinones went on, urging graduates not to judge others solely on their appearance or the color of their skin.
"Finally, as you venture out today and tackle the world with all the success that I know you will have, try not to judge others based on their looks, the color of their skin or the world they come from," Quinones added.
Quinones and The Inter-Mountain newspaper General Manager and Publisher Heather Goodwin Henline both received Doctor of Letters, honoris causa degrees.
"You set such an example. You are among those who recognize the power of education.
"You have shown the power of education by showing what it might do and what it can become," D&E President Michael Mihalyo said of Henline receiving the degree.
"You, Heather, are among those who share our commitment to educating and enhancing the lives of those in our community. You are fortunate to be in a position to inspire and inform. And you shoulder your responsibility with care and sensitive awareness," he said during the presentation. "Your work serves to foster ideas, to examine actions, and to encourage others. You and The Inter-Mountain help link our community through the cool fire of our Information Age. That you do this with joy and fortitude is a gift we recognize."
Henline and Quinones each were presented with the award in recognition of outstanding achievement in the humanities, original contribution to the creative arts, scholarship or other merits.
The 2014 graduating class valedictorian and winner of the Freeman J. Daniels Academic Achievement Award is Cacie Kristina Armstrong, from Elkins. The salutatorian is Sydney B. Mucha, of Mt. Claire.
Mihalyo closed the ceremony by wishing the graduating students well in their future journeys and reminding them they always will be part of the D&E family.
"To our graduates, I hope your time here has been productive, fulfilling and has prepared you for your future," Mihalyo said.