Follow own path, not others, grads told; Life lessons are personal.


Byline: Scott J. Croteau

WORCESTER - Simon says, "get your diplomas."

Worcester State College 2009 class president Alyssa N. Menard didn't issue that order, but during her game of Simon Says, the young woman did have some fun with the crowd inside the DCU Center during yesterday's graduation ceremony.

"Simon says, smile," the Leicester resident said. "Simon says, if you know someone graduating, raise your hand."

As the crowd clapped - of course after Simon said to do so - Ms. Menard reminded her fellow graduates that they don't have to listen to Simon. No one dictates their paths, and only they decide what their future holds.

"Who is Simon? Who is he to tell us what we can or can't do," said Ms. Menard, who was also surprised with the Ella M. Whitney Award for student achievement. "Do not listen to what Simon says, but choose your own path."

Faculty speaking at the graduation for the 891 people earning undergraduate degrees and 231 students earning graduate degrees told them their degrees will prepare them for the path ahead.

Their degrees were earned through hard work, late nights and lectures given by caring, dedicated professors, faculty told the graduates.

Then after being told not to listen to Simon, the graduates were told by commencement speaker Dorothy J. Manning to mind their own business.

Mrs. Manning, a Worcester State College graduate, lost her son Daniel F. Manning Jr. to leukemia in 1994. The young man was just 20. A couple years later, her husband, Daniel Manning Sr., died of esophageal cancer at the age of 47.

Director of the Our Danny Cancer Fund, Mrs. Manning recalled a conversation with her friend as her son battled leukemia.

"Later these same words hit me hard when I was talking to a friend and I was telling her I was worried about my son, Danny," she said. "As she listened to my fears and worries she bluntly told me `Dottie, that's Danny's business, not yours. You only have to mind your own business."

Stunned, Mrs. Manning learned that her son's battle was his life-lesson, not hers.

"Then reality hit me. She was right ... even though I felt I was justified, through my experience and wisdom, in giving advice to someone ... it was not my business to take control and make choices for others," she said. "I realized I could give advice and counsel, but it was not my business, not my life lessons to learn. It was Danny's."

Mrs. Manning said people have control over their personal business and can control how to use their time, how they use or misuse their bodies and who they are.

Danny was a sophomore in the Occupational Therapy Program when he was stricken with leukemia, a blood cancer. Mrs. Manning announced yesterday Worcester State College now has a scholarship endowed for an Occupational Therapy student in her son's honor.

Mrs. Manning received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the ceremony.

Also receiving awards were:

Annette A. Rafferty, founder of Abby's House, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Melvin S. Cutler, founder of Cutler Associates, received the 2009 Community Service Award.

Julie D. Frechette, professor in the Communications Department, received the 2009 George I. Alden Excellence in Teaching Award.

Joshua U. Aisiku, of the Education Department, was recognized with professor emeritus status.

The graduates are:

Bachelor of Arts

Auburn: Alicia R. Arsenault, Matthew C. George.

Barre: Brenda S. Cummings and Lori A. Stokes.

Boylston: Sarah T. Jordan.

Brimfield: Karl B. Hartshorn, Eric J. Hawk and Sherri A. Knapik.

Brookfield: Christopher J. Lytle.

Clinton: Amanda R. Kelly.

Douglas: Timothy J. Cox Jr., Shannon K. Fitzpatrick, Sarah M. Keddy and Christopher F. Menn.

Dudley: Laura R. Mcgill.

Fitchburg: Paul S. Membrino and Ashley A. Sultan.

Gardner: Kimberly A. Jenkins.

Grafton: Tabitha E. Bennett, Christian N. Onorato and Amanda R. Swanson.

Holden: Jacquelyn F. Kasper.

Hubbardston: Kaye J. Guerard.

Leicester: Jon W. Dyson Jr., Derek S. Wester and Derrick Willand.

Leominster: Briana E. Buckley and Andrew S. Maxwell.

Milford: Christine E. Bussell.

Millbury: Jennifer A. Kowszik and John P. Stone.

North Brookfield: Jacqueline A. Morrill.

Northboro: Jennifer L. Benson and Erin Elizabeth Dagle.

Oxford: Ashley M. Bolio and Nathan Scott Dearent.

Rutland: Hovsep H. Yaghmourian.

South Grafton: Timothy A. Crepeau.

Shrewsbury: Benjamin M. Boi, Thea K. Diamantopoulos, Matthew W. Holland and Lisa M. Mclean.

Spencer: Brandon J. Bernard, Jennifer A. Leblanc and Kristin E. Yeager.

Sterling: Tessa A. Molloy.

Thompson: Meg E. Popiak.

Uxbridge: Stacy A. Castell and Stephanie C. Jacques.

Ware: Allison A. Domanowski.

Webster: Christopher P. Goff.

West Boylston: Amanda Shusta.

Westboro: Dennis P. Uhlman.

Whitinsville: Benjamin J. Guilfoil, Ashley L. Kalel and Elizabeth J. Mombourquette.

Winchendon: Jeanette J. Ramos-Smith.

Worcester: Casey Alexis, Erika L. Dunn, Michael N. Gonzalez, Chelsi A. Gosselin, Blair R. Goyins, Mollie K. Hackett, Renee C. Henry, Robert A. Kerr, Kyle J. Maxwell, Jasmine Mercado, Felicia R. Misale, Thomas H.R. Moore, Alexios Panagiotidis, Ernesto J. Paulino, Derek J. Rabidou, Andrea D. Rivera, Miriam Rivera, Danielle L. St. Amand, Tarelle N. Tolson and Sean W. Cameron-Young.

Bachelor of Science

Ashburnham: Nicole M. Esposito and Joshua M. Richard.

Athol: Angela H. Apollonio and Alexa R. Burnham.

Auburn: Robert A. Andrade, Jacqueline A. Blake, Stephanie L. Carlson, Susan M. Charest, Cara L. Davis, Adam G. Krasowsky, Heather M. Richards, Tiffany J. Rotatori, Sarah N. Stuczko, Stephen A. Tettey and Brittany L. Yursha.

Barre: Anna-Lisa M. Duhamel and Kyle D. Parnaby.

Boylston: Kyle A. Sydow.

Brimfield: Michele Y. Lacombe, Ashley A. Parent.

Brookfield: Wendy Cleveland and Danielle Lariviere.

Charlton: Lorelle L. Anisko, Nicole L. Ciras, Patrick J. D'amore, Alicia A. Denning, Jill W. Mason, Rebecca A. Palmer, Jaquelynn M. Parenteau, Alycia M. Pickering and Jessica A. Sargent.

Cherry Valley: Catherine G. Moore.


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