Winter Commencement Tip Sheet

Winter commencement at Southeast Missouri State University is planned for 2 p.m. Dec. 18 in the Show Me Center arena. Some candidates for graduation have reported interesting feature stories about themselves that could be developed in connection with commencement. These story tips with contact names and either phone numbers or e-mail addresses are listed below. Students will begin assembling for commencement at 1:15 p.m. in the Student Recreation Center-North. With advanced notice, the Southeast News Bureau is happy to make arrangements for you to meet and interview any of the graduates listed below between 1:15 and 1:30 p.m. Dec. 18 in the Student Recreation Center-North. Please do not hesitate to call the News Bureau at (573) 651-2552 with any questions about these or other commencement stories.

Charles Vandegriffe of O’Fallon, Mo., is an 80-year-old who is earning his bachelor of general studies degree. Vandegriffe served in the U.S. Navy as a Specialist Class I. He then began a career as a pioneer in information technology. Fifty-four years later he started a career as a freelance journalist and wrote the books “A Living Legacy” and “Memory Lane: Sometimes You Have to Look Back to See Where You’re Going.” He has been an ambassador for United Healthcare, a major medical corporation. He has traveled the country giving hundreds of speeches, newspaper and radio interviews and appeared in national television commercials.  Once he receives the degree, he plans to continue his education by pursuing a master’s degree in religion focusing on Bible studies. Vandegriffe can be reached at (636) 240-0076 or chvandegriffe1s@semo.edu.

James McDevitt of Eldon, Mo., is graduating after working on his undergraduate degree for 41 years. McDevitt began his undergraduate degree in 1969. He will receive bachelor of general studies degree. McDevitt can be reached at (314) 428-6198 or jjmcdevitt2s@semo.edu.

Cathy McCarthy of Oldsmar, Fla., began taking classes at Southeast in the fall of 1973. Thanks to Southeast’s online classes, she was able to pick up where she left off and will receive a bachelor of general studies degree. McCarthy can be reached at cdlooney1s@semo.edu.

Connie Bohac of Jackson, Mo., is a 54-year-old veteran who will be graduating with a bachelor of general studies degree. Bohac started work on her degree after serving 18 years in the military. Although now disabled, she wants people to know “it’s never too late; don’t give up!” Bohac can be reached at (573) 462-6105 or cbohac1s@semo.edu.

Teresa Golden of Cape Girardeau, Mo., is using her second chance at life to fix the only thing she regrets from her past. After an open heart surgery four years ago, Golden took stock of her life and realized she regretted never finishing her college degree. Now at age 50, she will be graduating from Southeast with a bachelor of general studies degree with minors in administrative systems management and accounting.  Golden can be reached at (573) 335-8582 or tagolden1s@semo.edu.

Amber Hamilton of Jackson, Mo., is graduating with honors after only three and a half years at Southeast. Hamilton graduated early from Jackson High School in December 2007 with more than a semester of college credit completed. She enrolled at Southeast the following spring and has been working full time towards a bachelor of science degree with a major in human environmental studies, housing and interior design option. She will be graduating with honors at age 20. Hamilton can be reached at alhamilton1s@semo.edu or (573) 243-5185.

Kelly Keene of Nashville, Tenn., will be graduating in December, a full 28 years after he started at Southeast. Keene, who worked on campus with Facilities Management for several years, presently lives in Nashville where he is pursuing a music career. He will be graduating with a bachelor of general studies degree and a minor in mass communication. Keene can be contacted at (615) 491-3624 or knkeene1s@semo.edu.   

Robert Jones of Farmington, Mo., is a U.S. Army veteran who returned to school after suffering a stroke. Jones’s 11-year career in the Army was cut short in 2005. After his stroke, he made the effort to turn “something bad into something good.”  He will be graduating with a bachelor of science in business administration degree and a major in accounting. Jones can be reached at (573) 218-4691 or rrjones1s@semo.edu .

Amy LaPlaca of Cape Girardeau, Mo., a native of Frederick, Md., was born with an auditory learning disability. When LaPlaca was younger, her parents were told by school officials that she would never go to, or graduate from, college. However, LaPlaca refused to let her disability hold her back. She is graduating with a bachelor of science degree with a major in mass communication, television and film option, and a minor in creative writing. LaPlaca can be reached at aplaplaca1s@semo.edu.

Kent Walker of Cape Girardeau, Mo., is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He will be graduating from Southeast with a bachelor of arts degree with a major in English, literature option, and a minor in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL). Walker can be reached at (573)703-7277 or kawalker1s@semo.edu.

Mark Wilhelm of Mascoutah, Ill., has served as the “Voice of the Redhawks” for the last half of his college career. He has worked as the primary public address announcer for Southeast Athletics for several years. He will receive a bachelor of science degree with a major in sports management and a minor in business administration. Wilhelm can be reached at (618) 580-3410 or mjwilhelm1s@semo.edu.