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W.Va. State holds commencement

INSTITUTE, W.Va. -- On Saturday afternoon, Erika Walker stood among her classmates in a second-floor hallway of Ferrell Hall at West Virginia State University.

With cap and gown in place, she and the others formed lines and prepared to walk across the stage to receive their diplomas.

"I'm ready to get started and get [the ceremony] over with," Walker said shortly before the commencement ceremony began.

Walker, who earned her degree in art, with a focus on digital photography, was among approximately 260 people who graduated from WVSU during two ceremonies at the school Saturday.

"It's been pretty good," Walker said of her time at State. "I've enjoyed the art professors."

The ceremonies were originally planned for the main lawn of the Institute campus but were moved inside because of rain.

Downstairs, Walker's family packed into the last rows of the P. Ahmed Williams Auditorium.

"Her sister graduated Marshall University this morning, so we're going to have a party to celebrate both graduations," said Erika's husband, Stephen.

In addition to Stephen, Erika's parents, sister, mother-in-law, father-in-law, aunt and uncle came to the ceremony.

There was someone else, too, Stephen Walker said.

"She's pregnant," he said. "So our son is here, too."

State Delegate Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, was the commencement speaker at both WVSU ceremonies.

Skaff, a business owner, told graduates that what they do after graduation with the skills they learned at State is more important than the celebration.

He told the graduates to ask how they will make a difference in the world. They can make a difference in West Virginia, he said.

"Do something with the life you're given," Skaff said.

Jameyia Richardson of Charleston graduated with an English and professional writing degree. She said she hopes to become a technical writer for the federal government.

Richardson said she was apprehensive about graduating because of the poor job market in West Virginia, but that she is proud of her accomplishment.

"I'm excited to look my family in the face and say I did it," she said. She added that she's loved her time at State.

"I've enjoyed every second of it," she said. "I wear these colors proudly."

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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