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Nearly 900 walk in CCU commencement procession

May 8, 2010

A total of 891 students walked in Coastal Carolina University's commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 8 at Brooks Stadium.

Commencement speaker Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, president and CEO of the American Red Cross and a former U.S. ambassador to Finland, urged the class of 2010 to be passionate about their career choices and leave the world a better place.

"The people who make a difference in this world are not the ones with the most credentials or the most money or the most fame," said McElveen-Hunter. "They are those who put caring into action."

Speaking to the crowd of about 7,500 people, McElveen-Hunter, who received the honorary degree of Doctor of Public Service, also urged students to appreciate their mothers and call them on Mother's Day to express their love.

The first cadet graduate of the University's Reserve Officers' Training Cadet program received his commission in this year's ceremony. 2nd Lt. Alex Muse of Florence received his commission for the S.C. National Guard Military Police from his father, Col. Charles T. Muse, a retired colonel in the Marine Corps.

Nine students received the President's Award for Academic Achievement, which recognizes students with the highest cumulative grade point averages. The following recipients of the award all had perfect 4.0 grade point averages, graduating summa cum laude:

* Kristin Leigh Aldridge is a marketing major from Mechanicsville, Md. A member of the prestigious Wall Fellow program in the Wall College of Business, she has had internships with the Washington Redskins, Walt Disney World, Sea World and a U.S defense contractor. She plans to travel to India this summer to work with a Christian mission organization.

Rachel Bonertz, a biology major from Conway, was a member of the Chanticleer Volleyball team and spent numerous hours doing community service during her collegiate years. She plans to attend medical school and to pursue a career in the health care field.

Emalee Kristyn Bryant, an elementary education major from Cheraw, has mentored several Horry County K-12 students through the CCU Dalton and Linda Floyd Family Mentoring Program. She has accepted a position at Lake City College Preparatory Academy and plans to start graduate school in the fall.

Audrey Victoria Dunlap, a psychology major from Addyston, Ohio, has worked full time throughout her collegiate career at Coastal Carolina University. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

Tyler A. Gebauer is an exercise and sports science major from Eighty Four, Penn. He was a member of the inaugural class of Swain Scholars in the College of Natural and Applied Sciences. After graduation he will pursue a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at the University of South Carolina.

Jessica Lynne Hey of Myrtle Beach, an early childhood education major, was a member of Coastal Carolina Cheerleading team. She plans to teach in Horry County Schools and to earn a Master of Education in Learning and Teaching with a concentration in literacy.

Sherri Tomlinson, a chemistry major from Myrtle Beach, is a member of the Coastal Carolina University Honors Program. She is also a Swain Scholar, which led her to become involved in community health programs while a student. She will be pursuing a career in medicine upon graduation.

Katrina Smith is a marine science major from Birdsboro, Pa. While a student she presented a poster session at the prestigious Ocean Sciences Meeting in Portland, Ore. After graduation she plans to attend the University of Miamis Rosensteil School of Marine and Atmospheric Science where she will focus on marine and atmospheric chemistry.

Jodie Vachovetz, an early childhood education major from Danbury, Conn., has always dreamed of becoming a teacher and working with children. She plans to pursue a masters degree in education while teaching.

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