WLU’s December grads hear talk from BDC director Patrick Ford

GRADUATION SPEAKERES — Among those addressing graduates during Saturday’s fall commencement at West Liberty University were, from left, Patrick Ford, executive director of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle; Maria Ganoe, the graduating student speaker; and WLU President Stephen Greiner. -- Contributed

WEST LIBERTY — Two-hundred and eight new graduates of West Liberty University heard calls Saturday to believe in themselves, the Ohio Valley and whatever it is they hold dear at the school’s fall commencement ceremony.

Patrick Ford, executive director of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, addressed the graduating students, as well as their attending families and friends, with a message of “wanting to win.”

“Most don’t want to deal with any sort of project that comes with a grind,” he said. “But there’s nothing too small, no task too mundane. I bring my A-game to everything I do. I want to win.”

Ford said while many in the Ohio Valley tend to focus on what is missing, he said it would be best for graduates to focus on what is available and consider how to build upon it.

Ford said his childhood in Hutchinson, Kan., where he saw an economic downturn leave behind vacant properties and little of a safety net for families, is what motivates him today.

He said he wants to make it so every person in the Ohio Valley holds a decent job.

“That may sound unrealistic, but that’s what I believe,” he said. “Believing is doing — taking the calls, doing the work, taking the risk to do the deals. Don’t wait to hear the bell. Make it ring yourself.”

Maria Ganoe, the graduating student speaker, offered her reflections to comment on what it is WLU offers. She said the school presented an opportunity to meet others while laying out a path to follow and learn from.

“West Liberty to me is an astounding biology program with incredible opportunities, dedicated, caring professors and talented, driven students,” she said. “West Liberty to me is the place I ventured off to with my best friend and where I have grown up and received the chance to experience life.”

Ganoe is a first-generation college graduate. She earned the highest grade point average in WLU’s College of Science while completing her degree in three and a half years. She is an Elbin Scholar who will pursue a graduate program in medical physiology at the University of Florida.

The following is a list of graduates.

Master’s degrees

West Virginia

Follansbee: Jennifer A. Geissler

Weirton: Jodi Lynn Fidler, Matthew R. Kource, Patrick D. McDonald, Collin Michael McGee, Stephanie Lynn Randolph.

Wellsburg: David Holden, Melinda Dawn Reed, Sydney Marie Wagstaff.


Dillonvale: Willemijn Lambright.

Mingo Junction: Ashley Nicole Pietrangelo.

Richmond: Greg Robert Stagani.

Steubenville: Marcyjo A. Evans.

Toronto: Preston Lowell Sutton.

Undergraduate degrees

West Virginia

Bethany: Maria Lynne Kimble.

Chester: Steven G. Barr, Julie K. Cline, Clayton Douglas Flowers, Justin Thomas Icard, Nathan Ronald James Wright.

Colliers: Jamie Marie Meneely.

Follansbee: Gabrielle Reid Bennett, Janna Bright, Jonathan M. Eichner, Anthony Martin, Jennifer Jo Pierce, Michelle L. Pucci, Alexis Marie Thorfinnson.

New Cumberland: Daniel Elias Morgan, Joshua Allen Weltner.

Weirton: Susan M. Anderson, Justin M. Cervenak, David Charles Henry Cullinan, Micah Lin DiBacco, Dominique Marie Gilbert, Amanda Michelle Kyer-Boyd, Andrew Robert Marshall, Michael Thomas Mudrick, David L. Scammell Jr., Allison Grace Viakley, Tina Danielle Viakley.

Wellsburg: Olivia Marie Best, Kaitlyn Murphy Hall, Ryan J. Mozingo.


Bloomingdale: Sheila Lynn Caniff, Ryan J. Stackhouse.

East Liverpool: Justin M. Osborne, Asia F. Waggle.

Flushing: Zachary Levi Clemens, Ashley Diane Stewart.

Mount Pleasant: Boyd Carl Walker.

Rayland: Melissa Lynn Kovalsky, Kylee Brenee’ Panepucci, Floyd P. Thompson Jr.

Scio: Michael A. Horn.

Toronto: Jeremy David Elli, Shannon Lee Gardner, Paul L. Heffner, Cari Jean Horne.

Wintersville: Brandy L. Bowman, Brenda Lee Hilson.


Avella: Steven A. Soltesz.

Summer 2017 graduates

Master’s degrees

West Virginia

Follansbee: Angela Marie Powell.

Undergraduate degrees

West Virginia:

New Cumberland: Zachary Thomas Brown.

Weirton: Samantha Taylor Alkire, Alexandra Lynn Lengyel.


Rayland: Mackenzie L. Casto.

Steubenville: Todd Daniel Meadows.


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