Winter commencement to be held Saturday

Marshall University’s 2017 Winter Commencement, which takes place Saturday, Dec. 16, will honor nearly 1200 students who graduated in July or August 2017, or are tentatively scheduled to graduate this week. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.

Among the 1,181 students, who received or are about to receive degrees, are 656 undergraduates and 525 with graduate degrees. About 600 students have indicated they plan to participate in the ceremony. They will be recognized individually, walking to the area in front of the stage where their names will be announced and they will receive congratulations from President Jerome Gilbert and a scroll from the Marshall Alumni Association.

Registrar Dr. Sonja Cantrell said 214 students will graduate with honors. Thirty-eight will graduate summa cum laude (3.85 to 4.0 GPA), 60 magna cum laude (3.6 to 3.84 GPA), and 101 cum laude (3.3 to 3.59 GPA).

Four students receiving an associate degree will graduate with high honors, and 11 associate degree recipients will graduate with honors.

Based on tentative grade point averages, eight students will complete their baccalaureate degrees with perfect 4.0 GPAs. They are as follows:

  • Jared Todd Casto from Ripley, West Virginia; B.A. in Online Journalism;
  • Sabrina Marie Henderson from Ironton, Ohio; B.S. in Dietetics;
  • Anthony Luis Jaime from Huntington, West Virginia; B.A. in Criminal Justice;
  • Carrie McMellon from Huntington, West Virginia; B.A. in Psychology;
  • Kiersten Brooke Potter from Charleston, West Virginia; B.A. in Secondary Education and B.S. in Applied Mathematics;
  • Hannah Christine Saxton from South Point, Ohio; B.F.A. in Visual Art;
  • Breann ShangPing Spencer from St. Albans, West Virginia; B.S. in Environmental Science; and
  • Lauren Olivia Whisman from Ona, West Virginia; Regents Bachelor of Arts

Dr. Kelli Prejean, an associate professor of history at Marshall University and recipient of the Reynolds Outstanding Teaching Award last spring, will be the featured speaker. Prejean has been teaching at Marshall since 2005, when she began teaching English composition and serving as interim director of the Writing Center. Since that time, she has become an associate professor as well as coordinator of the composition program in the English department.

Marshall began conducting a winter graduation ceremony in 2008 with a convocation at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center. The speaker was Dr. Montserrat Miller, a professor of history. Winter commencement began in 2009 at Cam Henderson Center and the tradition of having an MU professor deliver the keynote address continued.

Previous winter commencement speakers were Dr. Simon Perry, professor of political science, in 2009; Dr. Bonita Lawrence, professor of mathematics, in 2010; Dr. Jamie Warner, professor of political science, in 2011; Dan Hollis, associate professor of journalism and mass communications, in 2012, Dr. Kateryna Schray, an English professor, in 2013; Dr. Judith Silver, emeritus professor of mathematics, in 2014; Dr. Andrew Nichols, a professor of engineering, in 2015; and Dr. Greta Rensenbrink, an associate professor of history, in 2016.

Parking is available in the parking garage on Third Avenue across from the Big Sandy Superstore Arena. Parking in this garage is available on weekends at no charge. In addition, parking is available in the Pullman Square garages for a minimal fee. All three parking garages are in reasonable walking distance of the arena.

The professional photographer Grad Images ( will e-mail proof information to graduates a few days after the ceremony. Purchase of photographs is entirely optional.

The Commencement ceremonies will be streamed live on the web. The link will be available on the main Marshall University website at

As a way of recognizing the achievement by the graduates, a downloadable copy of the Commencement ceremony is available, free of charge, courtesy of the MUAA. Graduates can relive this major life milestone by visiting to download a free copy of the commencement ceremony.