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ACM Students to speak at first In-Person Graduation since 2019

May 10th, 2022 by WCBC Radio

Two hundred and seventy-seven Allegany College of Maryland students are expected to earn approximately 337 degrees and certificates during the college’s spring commencement exercises on Saturday, May 14. Limited attendance Cumberland Commencement exercises take place at the Bob Kirk Arena in the Physical Education Building. Past graduates who missed the opportunity to “walk the stage” due to the pandemic will join in the exercises.

Guests must present graduation tickets for entry and masks are optional. Three separate ceremonies honoring ACM’s graduates will be held:

  • Career and transfer program (non-Allied Health) students will graduate at 10 a.m.
  • Allied Health students (with the exception of Nursing students) will graduate at 1 p.m.
  • Nursing students will graduate at 4 p.m.

For those unable to attend, the commencement exercises will be live-streamed on the college’s Facebook page and later posted to its YouTube channel.

Students Share Experiences and Hopes for the Future.

Students ranging in age from 18 to 70 were selected to speak at the Cumberland ceremonies. Heidi Miller, a legal studies student, and Steven Resh, an automotive technology student, will speak at the 10 a.m. commencement; Annette Ritter, human service associate and addictions certificate student, and Bianca Santos, a respiratory therapist student, will speak at the 1 p.m. commencement; and Nichole Claar, a nursing student, will speak at 4 p.m. commencement.  

Nichole Claar, an online LPN to RN student with a 3.8 GPA, is a New Paris, Pa. resident and a Claysburg-Kimmel High School graduate. Claar entered the healthcare field as a resident assistant in a nursing facility, and through grit and perseverance, graduated as valedictorian of her LPN class several years later. She presently works at a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility. A half-marathoner, she overcame self-doubt to move past incredibly challenging circumstances while raising two daughters and finding a supportive partner. Claar will talk about the importance of having a growth mindset and living “on the other side of fear” to achieve personal and professional goals. 

Legal Studies student Heidi Miller holds a 3.8 GPA, is a Bedford High School graduate and a Bedford resident. Miller has singlehandedly raised two children while working multiple jobs, including her present role as deputy registrar of wills for Bedford County and a second position at Thomas Bedford Subaru. A 2008 car accident left Miller with chronic short-term memory loss, but encouraged by attorney-friends, she entered ACM in 2020 and developed ways to overcome her disability. Miller will discuss how doubts about our abilities – those we have and those vocalized by others – can be a catalyst for constructive change as well as the importance of never giving up on your goals.

Steven Resh, an automotive technology student from LaVale, holds a 3.9 GPA. He previously enrolled in classes at the college in 1991. Resh, who retired from ACM in 2018 after 32 years of teaching including 24 years as coordinator of forestry programs, touches on the critical importance of a supportive college environment in his address. 

Annette Ritter, a human service associate and addictions [counseling] certificate student with a 3.9 GPA, resides in Little Orleans. Ritter, who earned her GED and first associate degree while in her forties, pursued her ACM degree and certificate to work in the human service field as a counselor and voice for others. Armed with an ageless passion for learning (and motorcycles), Ritter will attend the University of Maryland Global Campus part-time this fall. In her speech, Ritter draws on her own experience as an inquisitive life-long learner to discuss the importance of continual growth and also how education can prepare students to become thoughtful activists and world-changers.

Respiratory therapist student Bianca Santos holds a 4.0 GPA and is originally from the Philadelphia area. Santos. She graduated from Cabrini University as a biology/pre-dentistry student in 2019. Santos entered ACM in spring 2021 as a reverse-transfer student after gaining a new understanding of, and appreciation for, the work of respiratory therapists during the pandemic. Santos, whose life took an unexpected direction when a loved one fought (and won) their battle with an illness, discusses resiliency and the opportunities presented when you reevaluate your situation and find your passion.

Dr. Cynthia S. Bambara, ACM’s president, will open each ceremony with a welcome to the candidates for graduation, past graduates in attendance, and guests. ACM Board of Trustees Chair Kim B. Leonard will offer greetings. ACM Instructional and Student Affairs Senior Vice President Dr. Kurt Hoffman will present the candidates for graduation, and Leonard will award the graduates their diplomas assisted by Commencement Grand Marshal Dr. Donna Brunelli, D.O., professor and Sciences division chair, and Assistant Grand Marshal Ray Hunt, instructor and Automotive Technology program director. Faculty members will announce the names of the graduates. The West Virginia Brass Quintet will perform throughout the ceremonies.