WILKES-BARRE — Assistant professor of biology Linda Gutierrez told 120 undergraduate and graduate students at Wilkes University’s 2013 summer commencement ceremony on Sunday that “dreams can come true, even the unreachable.”
“The future is in the hands of the strong,” Gutierrez, a native of Venezuela who earned her post doctorate fellowship at Yale, said.
Gutierrez added a personal story about how experts told her there was no way that she would receive funding for a research project she needed grants for. They told her she was wasting her time.
Gutierrez replied to them, “I will write anyway.”
She did, and received the necessary funding.
She finalized her address to the graduates by saying “when something seems impossible, dare to dream, and it will come true.”
Gutierrez received the 2013 Carpenter Award for Distinguished Teaching. The honor was partly based on Gutierrez’ inclusion of undergraduate students while conducting extensive research in inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer.
Ashley Keath, of Lebanon, Pa., received her master of science in education degree. Keath, who teaches fifth grade at the Eastern Lebanon County School District, studied under the satellite learning program.
She said her goal is to “find alternative ways to reach students who are below grade level.” Keath added she may also return to Wilkes for her doctorate.
University President Patrick F. Leahy told the graduates that “commencement is a new beginning” and not an ending. He also said he wanted them to remember two main objectives.
The first is gratitude; to always express gratitude to all those who helped them to get to this day. The second is that “dreams give life meaning.”
Leahy concluded with a quote by Albert Einstein, noting “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
Heather Taylor, of Piedmont, Ohio, completed her second year at Wilkes, and received her master of arts in creative writing. Taylor saidshe will “be back here (Wilkes) next year at this same time ” to receive her master’s in fine arts degree.
Taylor currently runs the writing center at Bethany College in West Virginia. This degree completes one of her teaching tracks. Taylor also made a seven-hour drive back to Ohio in order to accompany her mother to the ceremony. Paget Taylor said she is very proud of her daughter.
Barbara Di Caprio, of Mahopac, N.Y., received her bachelor of science in nursing from the one-year nursing program. Di Caprio said she will now be going home to find a job, hopefully in the field of oncology.
Di Caprio said Wilkes is a “great school” and noted she also earned her bachelor of science in biology there in 2012.
Dawn D’Aries-Zera of Forty Fort received her master of fine arts in creative writing and quoted Pulitzer Prize winner Norman Mailer, stating “ Our family is a fine tapestry that must be taken care of, in order not to unravel.”
D’Aries-Zera said the students, family, friends, faculty and administration are the “tapestry” and all are needed to hold the work together. D’Aries-Zera reminded the graduates to “keep your head above water, and focus on your goal.”