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Glen Oaks to hold 48th Annual Commencement Ceremony on Fri., May 6

Glen Oaks Community College will hold its 48th Annual Commencement Ceremony at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 6, in the Glen Oaks gymnasium. One hundred nine-seven degrees and/or certificates will be awarded to 175 students, of which 113 will be walking in the ceremony.

Glen Oaks President David Devier will preside over the ceremony and will recognize recipients of several special awards including:

Distinguished Alumni Award – Perri S. Saunders
Fellows Awards – Lucy Zimmerman and Tom Soper
Adjunct Faculty Teaching Excellence Award – Stewart M. Nickell
Outstanding Service Award – Patricia A. Oswalt
E. J. Shaheen Chair for Teaching Excellence – William E. Furr
President’s Award – Hans W. Miller
Dr. Patricia Morgenstern, dean of academics and extended learning, will confer the degrees and will serve as grand marshal for the ceremony. Tonya Howden, assistant dean of students, and Beverly Andrews, assistant dean of enrollment services/registrar, will read the names of the candidates as they walk across the platform to receive their degrees.

The average graduation candidate is 26.5 years of age – the youngest is 18 and the oldest is 66. The average grade point average is a 3.3.

The Vintage Brass will provide music for the ceremony.

A short video “Why I Chose Glen Oaks” will be shown and features Jasmine McClish, of Sturgis, a Career and Technical Education student who is working on her welding certificate; Katelyn Thornton, of Mendon, an adult student studying Medical Assisting; and Mark Walker, of Toledo, Ohio, who is an athlete and traditional student finishing up his Associate of General Studies degree.

Tickets are required for guests to attend the graduation. Each student participating in the ceremony is eligible to receive up to eight general admission seating guest tickets. Requests may be made for additional tickets by contacting Diane Zinsmaster at (269) 294-4233. Accommodations can be also made for those requiring wheelchairs at this number.

The College holds graduation exercises annually in the spring. A listing of the graduates will be available in June. Free parking will be available to all guests. The college is located at 62249 Shimmel Rd., in Centreville, Michigan.

Background on award recipients
Distinguished Alumni Award – Perri S. Saunders
This award recognizes alumni who have distinguished themselves through professional excellence and personal service. This year’s award goes to someone who continuously works to serve and make St. Joseph County, Michigan, a better place to live and work.

Perri Saunders is a 1984 graduate of Glen Oaks who received her Associate of Arts degree and has worked at the White Pigeon Township Library for 18 years, being named director in 2004. Under her direction, she has worked to grow the library from card catalog and books to so much more including online catalog access, downloadable books and computer training for the public, in addition to a wide range of creative special events and activities that engages all ages. Saunders serves on the White Pigeon Rotary where she is a past Paul Harris Fellow, as well as a two-term past president. She, along with her husband, Dan, were coaches in White Pigeon’s Tee Ball League for nearly a decade and they served as leaders in the Boy Scout program where she still serves in an advisory capacity today. Saunders also holds the distinguished title of 2011 White Pigeon Citizen of the Year.

Fellows Award – Lucy Zimmerman and Tom Soper
The Glen Oaks Community College Fellows Award recognizes a community member and/or institution for outstanding service to and/or in support of Glen Oaks. The Fellows Award is given to an individual or institution that has provided outstanding support of the college as evidenced by one or more of the following:

Long-term dedication and commitment to the college via direct service on the Board of Trustees, Foundation Board, advisory committees or other direct engagement.
Extensive community-level support for the college in such roles as K-12 leadership and collaboration, higher education partners/leaders and collaborations, service organizations leadership and collaboration, business/industry leadership and collaboration, community foundation leadership and collaboration or governmental leadership and collaboration.
Direct and continuing support of the college and students via contributions to the Glen Oaks Foundation or College including donations of equipment, software and expertise.
An individual who has provided long-term outward public support and/or direct service to the college.
Lucy Zimmerman
Zimmerman was a full-time faculty member at Glen Oaks from 1986 to 2010. She served as a chair and lead of the Communications Department for many years. A strong professor, Zimmerman set the bar high and challenged students to go above and beyond in bringing out the best of their abilities.

Described as organized, articulate and detailed, Zimmerman was always a successful in undertaking projects. She led Phi Theta Kappa to top status in 1995 through August 1999. She supported and participated in the music program and graciously served as accompanist for several graduation and honors programs. Zimmerman served as the Academic Quality Improvement Program liaison keeping Glen Oaks compliant with the Higher Learning Commission accreditation requirements.

She still serves in the community and is active in church activities and vocal music groups

Tom Soper
Soper was one of the original faculty members of Glen Oaks Community College who worked with the founders of the college to set up academic expectations and requirements to give students the best possible educational opportunities. Described as very student focused, Soper prepared students to move them forward in their life and careers. In addition to college, he was also an active member in St. Joseph County serving on various councils.

An active runner himself, Soper promoted physical health of students as well as academic attainment. He is described has having a zeal for physical activity, promoting faculty and staff wellness activities as well. Today, he is still active in many community activities.

Adjunct Faculty Teaching Excellence Award – Stewart M. Nickel
Stewart Nickel has been teaching for the college since 1986. His teaching methods are said to bring tangible ways of learning history in a way that helps students retain the information. His personality, abundance of knowledge and welcoming atmosphere all express his enthusiasm for learning and care for his students. He is an innovator, a content expert who is responsive to different learning styles and an active member of the college community.

Outstanding Service Award – Patricia A. Oswalt
This award recognizes employees of Glen Oaks for their outstanding performance and contributions to the College. This year’s award goes to Patricia Oswalt, executive assistant to the dean of enrollment services/registrar. Oswalt is one of the most knowledgeable and caring people at the college. In all of her years in the Registration and Records office, she always stops to take time to meet and exceed the needs of the students. She knows the details and history of all Glen Oaks programs, as well as degree and certificate requirements. She volunteers to take part in college activities and college events and is truly a part of the legacy at Glen Oaks.

E. J. Shaheen Chair for Teaching Excellence – William E. Furr
(Please note there is a separate media release feature on William Furr for a potential separate article.)
The E. J. Shaheen Chair for Teaching and Excellence Award was initiated in 1984 with a generous donation from E. J. Shaheen, one of the original Glen Oaks Board members. Shaheen, a college professor, lawyer and business owner, placed a high value on education and spent much of his later life in promoting high quality education and education institutions, including Glen Oaks.

This year’s recipient is William Furr, professor of business. Furr earned an associate degree from Oakland Community College, a Bachelor’s in Business from Walsh College and a Master’s degree in Management from Central Michigan University. Furr is said to care deeply about the success of his students, pushing them to do their best.

President’s Award – Hans W. Miller
This award recognizes a student who has been nominated by the faculty for his/her high achievement in academics. This year’s recipient is Hans Miller, a second-year student at Glen Oaks. Miller is receiving his Associate of General Studies degree and he plans to pursue a four-year degree in secondary education focusing on math and science. He is a member of the Alpha Delta Omega Phi Theta Kappa chapter at Glen Oaks, a recent recipient of the 2016 Bernard Swartz scholarship and is a 2015 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholar.

Miller has a passion for working with kids. Upon high school graduation, Miller worked in construction and he spent a great deal of time in construction as part of missionary work in other countries. Miller is married and has three children and still manages to find time to coach his sons in Sturgis Little League baseball and volunteer at his church.