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Glen Oaks to hold 50th Annual Commencement Ceremony on Fri., May 4; Nursing and Allied Health pinning ceremonies – Sat., May 5

Glen Oaks Community College will hold its 50th Annual Commencement Ceremony at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 4, in Ken Schuler Court (Glen Oaks gymnasium). The Nursing Pinning ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 5 at 10 a.m. in Ken Schuler Court and the Allied Health Pinning ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 5 at 2 p.m. in the Dresser Business Development Auditorium.

There are 179 pending graduates with degrees and/or certificates. Their average age is 25 years—the youngest is 17 and the most senior is 58 years young. Their average GPA is 3.3. There is one dual enrolled high school graduate who will be graduating from Glen Oaks with an associate degree before she graduates from her own high school. There are 11 Early Middle College graduates. There are a total of 135 graduates walking in Friday evening’s ceremony to receive their degree and/or certificate.

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

  • Distinguished Alumni Award – Christopher D. Gosling
  • Fellows Award – David H. Allen
  • Adjunct Faculty Teaching Excellence Award – Carol A. Weatherford
  • Outstanding Service Award – Amanda L. Ludwig
  • J. Shaheen Chair for Teaching Excellence – Cheryl N. VanderPloeg
  • President’s Award – Seth D. Burpee

President Devier will confer the degrees and Dr. Patricia Morgenstern, dean of academics and extended learning, and will serve as grand marshal for the ceremony. Tonya Howden, dean of students, will read the names of the candidates as they walk across the platform to receive their degrees.

The Vintage Brass will provide music for the ceremony.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of commencement, a short video “Transforming Lives – 50 Years Strong” will be shown and features Leland Thornton, one of the college’s original history professors, who authored the book “Glen Oaks Community College,” which was published in 1998. In the book he writes about how the College came to be a part of St. Joseph County and covers the College’s history from 1964 to 1999.

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., Centreville, Mich

Background on award recipients

Distinguished Alumni Award – Christopher D. Gosling

This award recognizes alumni who have distinguished themselves through professional excellence and personal service. This year’s award goes to Christopher D. Gosling

Christopher Gosling graduated from Glen Oaks in 1976 with an Associate of Science, then pursued a degree in chemical engineering at Michigan Technological University.

Gosling parlayed that degree into a successful 36-year career with what is now UOP Honeywell, the leading international licensor for the petroleum refining, gas processing and petrochemical industries. Rising through the ranks from development engineer to director of refining technology development, he also holds 45 U.S. patents.

Now retired, Gosling divides his time between home in Roselle, Illinois, and a farm in Gays Mills, Wisconsin, where he grows hay and corn, and collaborates with the Department of Natural Resources on a deer management project.

Fellows Award – David H. Allen

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. This year’s Fellows Award recipient is David H. Allen.

David Allen has been a strong supporter of Glen Oaks for many years. As a community member and leader with the City of Three Rivers, he always pointed to and supported Glen Oaks as a community asset.

Allen served nine years on the Glen Oaks Board of Trustees where he was an important contributor. He stepped up to the plate and served as chairperson at a time when college was challenged with a number of issues and he proved to be the right person for the time.

Adjunct Faculty Teaching Excellence Award – Carol A. Weatherford

This award is presented annually to a part-time faculty member who demonstrates excellence in teaching and who reflects the value of education to students of Glen Oaks Community College.

Carol Weatherford has been teaching English at Glen Oaks for ten years. Weatherford provides thought-provoking lessons for her students while engaging them to be critical thinkers. This serves them well both inside and outside the classroom. She is an excellent instructor who is always well prepared and takes personal interest in her students, providing encouragement for their success along the way. She is a highly sought after teacher each academic year as one of the favorite and frequently requested instructors.

Outstanding Service Award – Amanda L. Ludwig
This award recognizes employees of Glen Oaks for outstanding performance and contributions to the College. This year’s award goes to Amanda L. Ludwig.

Amanda Ludwig joined the college’s maintenance/custodial department in February, 2017. Ludwig has a positive attitude and uplifting personality and is enthusiastic about doing her job every day. Without fail, Ludwig is said to greet everyone with a smile. She takes great pride in her work and in her short time here, she has had a positive impact on the faculty, staff, students and guests at the college. It is this level of dedication that makes Glen Oaks a positive and supportive place for students to learn and for co-workers to perform their very best.

J. Shaheen Chair for Teaching Excellence – Cheryl N. VanderPloeg
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 Cheryl N. VanderPloeg.

Cheryl VanderPloeg has always been someone who cares about helping others—a quality that led her into the nursing profession.

VanderPloeg believes in using active teaching: playing games, doing small group work and getting students engaged through activities.

As a student nominator put it, she “teaches material in many different ways to ensure her students receive the full benefit … she teaches from her heart, and not from a book.”

VanderPloeg is a first-year teacher who previously worked as a nurse at the Battle Creek VA Medical Center Community Center.

President’s Award – Seth D. Burpee
This award recognizes a student who has been nominated by the faculty for his/her high achievement in academics and excellence and contributions in the classroom. This year’s recipient is Seth Burpee.

Seth Burpee has been described as an exceptional student who is a very hard-worker, very motivated and driven. He always strives to do his best and is an exemplary role model for all students to follow and is said to be an absolute pleasure to have in class. Burpee, who resides in Mendon, Michigan, began his Glen Oaks experience as a CTE student and is a strong example of the difference that a Glen Oaks education can make in your life. He received his Welding Certificate and Associate of Applied Science in Technology last December and is currently working at Armstrong International while he continues to pursue his dreams.