WEST LIBERTY - Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie attributes his success to hard work, honesty and determination - values he urged the 133 new graduates of West Liberty University to cherish as he gave the commencement address Saturday at the school.
"Success is simple. Do what is right, the right way, at the right time," McKenzie said, while emphasizing his status as a proud graduate of the hilltop institution of higher learning.
During the ceremony, West Liberty University President Robin Capehart honored McKenzie with a doctor of humane letters degree for McKenzie's contributions to the betterment of Wheeling and Ohio County.
Photo by Casey Junkins
West Liberty University honors 133 new graduates during its Saturday commencement ceremony.
After graduating from what was then known as West Liberty State College, McKenzie received his MBA from West Virginia University.
Besides serving as the Friendly City's mayor, McKenzie is employed as a financial adviser for Wells Fargo, located at the Wagner Building in Center Wheeling.
McKenzie also has served as a Republican senator in the West Virginia Legislature from 1996-2008, holding the position of Minority Whip.
He urged the graduates to become life-long learners as they enter the work force and to remember the lessons learned from their peers and professors at West Liberty University.
"It used to be that a high school graduate could earn a decent wage. It is not so today," McKenzie said in acknowledging the new graduates.
"Never close your mind to something new. You must always be willing to evolve during the changing times," he added.
Capehart opened the ceremony by asking for a moment of silence to acknowledge the victims in the Friday shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
West Liberty students graduating summa cum laude were: Gloria J. Coffman of Bellaire; Bethany Nicole Cogley of Wheeling; Ethan Edward Kobe of Ravenswood, W.Va.; Sean M. Pulice of Weirton; Hannah Kathryn Pyles of Cameron; and Shelby Judith Lea Zelinski of Glen Dale.
Students graduating magna cum laude were: Jessica Lynn Bennett of Wheeling; Karlie E. Davis of Woodsfield; Kevin Edgar Kidwell of Keyser, W.Va.; Kayla Marie Pace of Steubenville; Charisse Lynn Powell of West Alexander; Kelsey Marie Wetzel of St. Clairsville; and Emma Louise Windsor of Oswestry, England.
Students graduating cum laude were: Tammy Marie Brenwalt of Valley Bend, W.Va.; Morgan Michele DeGarmo of Claysville, Pa.; Jennifer Mary Fiedorczyk of Weirton; Karin Jayne Freese of Wheeling; Lauren Irene Herman of Washington, Pa.; Marie Elizabeth Holt of Toronto; Brittany Noel Kimball of Colliers; Max Aaron King of Toronto; Alex N. Knotts of Weirton; Natasha Beth Materkoski of St. Clairsville; Rachel Maurine Mazzella of Wellsburg; Olivia Anne McIntosh of Wheeling; Jonathan Niel Renforth of Wheeling; Cheryl A. Rush of Avella, Pa.; Emily Virginia Shepherd of Bellaire; Kayla Rae Stanley of Williamstown, W.Va.; and Matthew T. Wood of Bloomingdale.