The Universities at Shady Grove Celebrates Largest Graduating Class (Photos)
More than 700 graduates were celebrated in a graduation ceremony at The Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville, marking the largest number of graduates at the campus community since its foundation in 2000.
The Universities at Shady Grove gives local students the opportunity to earn a degree from the nine Maryland public universities, something Executive Director Stewart Edelstein says encourages those who might not have had college in their future.
“We have about half of the students who come here are the first in their families to get a degree and we know that if we weren’t here most of them would not have been able to complete a bachelors degree,” Edelstein says. “That’s what’s exciting about being here.”
During a standing room only ceremony, graduates and their families heard from a student speaker who earned a 4.0 GPA from Towson University through The Universities at Shady Grove, something that she never dreamed of given her disability.
“I was home schooled in high school and I was very apprehensive of attending college due to my visual limitations,” said Joanna Linn.
Her vision is getting progressively worse, yet after talking with advisers at The Universities at Shady Grove she decided to pursue her dream of becoming a special education teacher.
“The community has very welcoming, very supporting and I’ve absolutely loved my experience here at Shady Grove to get my bachelor’s degree,” Linn said. “So despite all of the challenges I face with my disability, everyone’s been very supportive and helpful and I really couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”
Her parents, who home schooled her through high school, say they are elated to see Joanna completing her education.
“To know back from when she was first diagnosed with her eye condition just you know knowing the difficulties she would have and to see her today being at the end of her college education and succeeding at it which she’s doing and being able to inspire others by speaking at this event is just unbelievable,” said Marianne Linn, Joanna’s mother.
Congressman John Delaney, the graduation speaker, gave his advice to the class of 2014 during the ceremony, saying that they should be lifelong learners and should never take the easy path.
“There’s a hard path and an easy path. Always take the hard path. It’s always the right thing to do,” Delaney said.
See photos from the graduation celebration below: