ECSU graduates celebrate the 158th Commencement

Kesha Williams
May 16, 2014

ecsu-graduates-celebrate ECSU held its 158th Commencement ceremony in Roebuck Stadium Saturday for 312 students-- 283 undergraduates and 29 graduate students. Marisol Denney, an elementary education major, beaming with pride, stood at the front of the line. She was the Bearer of Mace for the spring 2014 class. The honor of Bearer of the Mace is reserved for the senior who earned all credit hours at this university and the senior with the highest grade point average. As a college freshman, she was a non-traditional student -- a native of Barranquilla, Columbia (South America), a wife and mother. For those reasons, she was honored to lead the line of graduates into the stadium. "I am so happy. I cried when I learned that I was named Bearer of the Mace. It was not my goal, however I did strive to be the best," Denney said. "I remember when I was younger my grandmother told me 'Always work hard. Do your best no matter what you do.' " Denney said she developed friendships and bonds at ECSU that she hopes will last a life time. She selected her major, elementary education, as a means of helping children reach their full potential. She said she has been concerned to witness the struggle by Hispanic children to fit into the American culture. As a resident who arrived just over a decade ago, she understands their struggle. She arrived in 2003 with her husband who was in the U.S Army. In 2005, she completed courses at College of the Albemarle. Five years later, she enrolled at ECSU. She is proud to have reached an important goal-a Bachelor's degree. "This is a milestone in my life. Coming from a foreign country, adjusting to a new culture and language, receiving my GED now graduating with this prestigious honor. It was very hard for me to accomplish, "Denney said. "It was not easy to juggle all my responsibilities as a mom (of three) and a wife, but I have a great husband who is always there for me." She carried a full load of classes and worked part time. Denney kept a strict schedule-consistent class attendance, studying from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. and from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. every day except on Sundays. "There were times when I just wanted to quit because it was not easy. However, I kept repeating to myself "I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me," Denney said. She also found great resources in the Education Department at ECSU. "The faculty prepared my fellow classmates and me to be effective by teaching us the values of: leadership, accountability, diversity, and how to incorporate Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains into our lessons to prepare our future students to face the 21st century." Denney hopes her story will inspire other mothers who want to earn their college degree to enroll. "Not only moms but dads as well. ECSU is a great place to achieve your degree because it offers flexible schedules that anyone can plan and adjust to their daily schedule." Another parent, Michael Barclift, walked the commencement line as proudly as Denney. He and his daughter, Jessica, shared the same commencement day and earned degrees in business. He discovered late last October that he needed one more class to meet the degree requirements. Jessica plans become a certified public accountant. Michael, also a local church pastor, is confident the degree program will enhance his ability to perform his current job as a city superintendent of recreation. He too would advise other adults to pursue their degree at ECSU. "ECSU has small class sizes which helps because you can get to know your professors. It is also affordable."