WEST LIBERTY - Local businessman Leslie DeFelice took inspiration Saturday from the popular movie "The Graduate" when addressing West Liberty University's 337 spring graduates - the university's largest graduating class since the 1980s.
"In this movie a young graduate is taken by a neighborhood friend who says 'I want to say just one word to you - plastics. There's a great future in plastics,'" DeFelice recited. "There is always substitutes for the next big thing. You may be told it is cybersecurity, financial analyst, software developer ... On your graduation I want to solemnly look you in the eye and say in one word the key to success and happiness - you."
During the ceremony, WLU President Robin Capehart presented DeFelice with a Doctor of Humane Letters degree for his success and dedication to the local community. DeFelice earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration at what was then West Liberty State College and is the owner of several businesses including, DeFeliceCare and Visiting Angels.
Photo by Sarah Harmon
West Liberty University graduates its largest class since the 1980s at the 2013 spring commencement ceremony.
DeFelice urged the graduates the key to success in any endeavor after graduation is "to put yourself last" saying his success in business can be attributed to addressing the needs of employees before his own.
"In everything you do, it must not be about you," DeFelice said. "Today is about you, but tomorrow has to be about everyone else."
Graduating senior Joshua P. Smith told his class he didn't know what to think when he first made the drive up the "twists and turns" of W.Va. 88, but soon came to call the school home.
"I've seen West Liberty grow," Smith said. "It's not so much that there is an increase in enrollment, but what is behind it. Here I learned to think in more than just one dimension and it is here that I found my potential."
Capehart advised the class to stay in touch with the university after graduation and to value the memories of the school.
"You will be missed and you will not be forgotten," Capehart said.
WLU Board of Governors Chairman Richard Carter said it was fitting the graduation ceremony occurred on Mother's Day weekend, since mothers play an integral role in a young adult's education. He wished the graduates luck in their endeavors.
"May success follow you through your life," Carter said. "Go forth and do great things."