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WSC Spring 2010 Commencement Ceremonies

Published: 6-1-2010 10:20 am

2010 Spring Commecement Photos
2010 Spring Commencement Photos
Wayne State College held commencement for graduate students in Rice Auditorium and undergraduates May 8 in the Willow Bowl. A total of 429 degrees - 102 graduate degrees and 327 undergraduate degrees - were conferred at the ceremonies by Wayne State President Richard J. Collings. Congressman Jeff Fortenberry delivered the commencement address at the baccalaureate ceremony.

Graduate Invocation Speaker
Jessica Rachelle Helgren, daughter of Randy and the late Ava Helgren, delivered the graduate ceremony invocation. She graduated from Neligh-Oakdale Public Schools in 2004. While at Wayne State College for her undergraduate education, she served in several leadership roles including president of Theta Phi Alpha sorority, president of Greek Council, and Student Senate vice president. After graduating in August 2008 with a double major in sport management and mass communications, Helgren returned to WSC for her graduate education and took on a position as a graduate assistant.  During the past two years, she has taught classes while working on her master's degree in sport management. She serves as the Theta Phi Alpha Northeast Nebraska Alumnae Association president and on the Chapter Advisory Board. Helgren is the new operations director of the Cox Classic golf tournament in Omaha. She enjoys being active and spending time with family and friends.

Graduate Commencement Speaker
Jeremy Francis, who received his master's degree in curriculum and instruction, delivered the graduate ceremony commencement address.  He graduated from Midland College in Fremont, Neb., with a bachelor's degree in elementary education and was part of Wayne State's Fremont Learning Community. Francis teaches second grade at Hillrise Elementary in Elkhorn.  He serves as part of the CORE team for developing, ordering for, and selecting staff for West Dodge Station Elementary in Elkhorn, which will open in the fall. Jeremy will be teaching second grade at West Dodge Station. Francis and his wife, Jill, both of Hooper, Neb., have two children, a son, Kayl, and a daughter, Keegan. Jeremy is the son of Wayne and Sharon Francis of Fremont.

Baccalaureate Invocation Speaker
Katherine Fitzgerald, daughter of Mark and Jacqueline Fitzgerald of Norfolk, Neb., delivered the invocation at the baccalaureate ceremony She is a double major in Spanish and speech communication with an emphasis in organizational leadership and public relations. While at Wayne State College, she has been involved as president of Lambda Pi Eta Communication Honor Society, president of Sigma Delta Pi Spanish Honor Society, member of Phi Kappa Phi, president of Navigators, and a STRIDE tutor. She is a Neihardt Scholar and participated in the Honors Program. Fitzgerald has studied abroad in Spain, was Homecoming queen, and has served on Student Senate for three years. Upon graduation, Kate will attend law school at the University of Nebraska.

Honored Retiring Faculty
Dr. Jay O'Leary came to Wayne State College 44 years ago in 1966, specializing in music and, specifically, woodwind instruments. He holds bachelor of music education and doctor of musical arts degrees from the University of Colorado. His master of music degree is from Boston University. MORE

Dr. Linda Taber began her career as a Wayne State College professor in 1992. She earned her bachelor's degree in history at Penn State University in 1964, her master's degree in history at Rutgers University in 1966 and her doctorate in history at Stanford in 1983. MORE

State National Bank Teaching Excellence Award
Dr. Doug Christensen, professor of biology, was presented the State National Bank Teaching Excellence Award at the baccalaureate ceremony. This prestigious honor is awarded on the basis of rigorous standards that require a superior level of effective teaching. MORE

Alumni Achievement Award
George L. Shuck is the recipient of this year's Alumni Achievement Award. He enrolled at Wayne State in the fall of 1973 in the business school and completed his studies at Wayne State in 1976, graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor of science degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting and a minor in economics. While at Wayne State, Shuck was vice president of the Student Senate and was a member of the tennis team. After graduating from Wayne State, he attended the University of Kansas, graduating with a master of science degree in accounting in 1977. MORE

Baccalaureate Guest Speaker
U.S. Congressman Jeff Fortenberry delivered the commencement address at Wayne State's baccalaureate ceremony. Fortenberry was elected to the United States House of Representatives to serve Nebraska's First Congressional District in November 2004.

Congressman Fortenberry has an extensive background in economics and public policy. Prior to serving in Congress, he worked as a publishing industry executive in Lincoln, where he also served on the Lincoln City Council from 1997 to 2001.  In Congress, Fortenberry serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee with significant responsibilities for Middle Eastern affairs; the Agriculture Committee, where he helped write the House Farm Bill; and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, with a focus on ensuring effective governmental operations.

He also has significant personal experience in small business, and early in his career he worked as a policy analyst for the United States Senate Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations. He earned a bachelor's degree in economics at Louisiana State University and two master's degrees, one in public policy at Georgetown University, and the other from Franciscan University in Ohio.

He and his wife, Celeste, live in Lincoln and have five daughters.

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