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WVU Tech celebrates first commencement ceremony in Beckley

On Saturday, May 12, students, faculty, family and friends gathered in the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center to celebrate more than 170 graduates of the WVU Tech class of 2018.

At the institution’s first ceremony in Beckley, attendees heard from former United States House of Representatives member, Nick Rahall II, WVU Tech Student Government Association President Hannah Calhoun and Campus President Carolyn Long.

Long said that she was impressed with the reach of this year’s class, both in their personal development and their interactions with the community.

“You are all doing work – in the classroom and in your communities – that we can all be proud of. You’ve clocked thousands of service hours and created student organizations. You’ve competed for and landed positions and opportunities to continue your studies and work around the world,” she said.

“You deserve to celebrate all of your accomplishments,” Long told the graduates. “No matter what the challenge is ahead of you, know that you have people who support you and are here to help you on your journey. You’re Golden Bears and we are so very proud of you.”

After the ceremony, graduates spent time introducing friends and faculty to their families, sharing stories of their time at Tech.

Natanya Shingler is a graduate of the WVU Tech forensic investigation program from Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.

Shingler’s family traveled more than six hours to campus to celebrate her accomplishment. Mother Melissa Morris said she was happy to have her back close to home.

"She was far away, but I always felt like she was safe here because for her it felt like she was at home," said Morris.

Shingler, a soccer player and active member of Forensic Investigation Association, agreed.

"There’s a feeling like you’re home,” she said. “Everybody knows everybody. You make a lot of friends and memories here."

Shingler has been working as an intern at the Beckley Police Department. She'll finish over the summer at the Lewistown, Pennsylvania police department. After that, she plans to enroll in the police academy.

"I want to be a crime scene investigator, so once I get into the field, I'm going to try to get into the forensics side of police work," she said.

Douglas Negrete is an information systems graduate from Chino, California. He celebrated after the ceremony alongside friends and family.

Negrete came to Tech on an athletic scholarship. As a cross-county and track and field athlete, he said he was impressed with the experience.

"I met a lot of great people. The coaches were great mentors and tutors,” he said.

He plans to go into the workforce as soon as he’s able, and says that he’s confident in his chances.

"Tech's a great school. The faculty are incredible. They have real-life experience and they were able to convey that into the classroom setting and were able to give us real direction in where we would want to go after school."

Chino is just over 30 miles east of Los Angeles and a whole continent away from Beckley, so there was some adjustment for the young Negrete. His mother Donna said that the coaching staff at Tech were a big help.

"We're eternally grateful for the coaches here," she said. "They have been a blessing."

She told the story about how Douglas caught the flu in the early spring. There was little she could do. Douglas’ coaches were out of town, too.

"We called him on a Saturday and he couldn't get out of bed. That night one of the coach’s spouses brought him medicine. She didn’t have to do that. As a mom, that was just huge," she said.

In addition the day’s graduates, the ceremony recognized psychology graduate Kelsey Frank as the recipient of the Presidential Leadership Award for the College of Business Humanities and Social Sciences; chemical engineering graduate Kendra Monnin as the Presidential Leadership Award for the Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences; and athletic coaching education graduate Saul Montealegre as the SHAPE America Major of the Year winner.

View photos from the day’s events on Flickr and read local coverage from the Beckley Register-Herald . Missed the ceremony? Watch it on YouTube.

SGA President Hannah Calhoun addresses graduates at the 119th WVU Tech commencement ceremony.