Celebrating Our Winter Grads

Dec 11, 2021

Cal U welcomes the Classes of 2021 and 2020 for the University's 193rd Commencement.

  • - Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, interim Cal U president.

  • - Jesse McLean Jr., guest speaker.

  • - Communications disorders classmates MacKenzie Darst (left), Erin Patrick and Lindsay Pegg,.

  • - Dr. Dale greets psychology major Juan Bueno.

  • - Psychology major Taylor Turner.

  • - Alexis Nicole Fleming, a 2020 social work graduate, and Dr. Dale.

  • - Alexandra Casat Cox is hooded after earning her Doctor of Health Science.

  • - MIchael Mastondrea is hooded after earning his Master of Business Administration.

When Kristin Anderson was in sixth grade, she had a history teacher who made quite an impression.

“We ate our way through history,” the brand new Cal U master’s degree graduate recalled. “We’d taste the rations during the Civil War. Or we’d have different cuisines as we studied other cultures. I thought it was really cool!”

Cool enough, in fact, that Anderson now teaches civics and law, sociology and world history at McGuffey High School.

She graduated Dec. 10 with a master’s degree in educational leadership, as did her younger sister, Kelli Anderson, a first-grade teacher at Washington Park Elementary School who earned her master’s degree in early childhood education.

“We applied at the same time, got accepted at the same time, started in Fall 2020 at the same time, and never took a break!” Kelli Anderson said. “Doing it together kept us on our toes. We kept each other on track. On family vacation, we had our laptops out doing homework.”

Perseverance and joy were themes for the nearly 1,000 members of the Class of 2021, who earned associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in August and December. All members of the Class of 2020, whose spring and winter Commencement ceremonies were postponed due to COVID-19, were invited to participate in the December event, and about 100 attended.

It was also the first Commencement for Cal U interim President Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, who addressed graduates along with guest speaker Jesse McLean Jr., Classes of 1983 and 1994.

“You persisted through times of extra challenges,” the President said. “We celebrate your commitment, enthusiasm and devotion to Cal U.”

Find a mentor, McLean urged graduates. “If you cannot see where you’re going, ask someone who went there before you.”


Gregory Williams, a 2020 graduate who earned his master’s in conflict resolution, traveled from Virginia to attend the ceremony.

“It’s the finishing exclamation point,” he said.

Criminal justice major Gabrielle Schultz, another 2020 grad, from Clearfield, Pa., paid tribute to her grandparents by decorating her cap in their memory. She brought a cheering section of family.

“I wanted a chance to walk,” she said. “I’m the first grandchild to graduate, and my other grandparents are watching from Georgia.

“I put a lot of heart into Cal U as a tour guide and New Student Orientation leader,” said 2020 grad Alexis Fleming, a social work major. “I had to do it for the satisfaction.”

Stephan Brooks earned his Doctor of Health Science degree in 2021. He will start a new job soon at the WVU Research Corp. in area health education.

“This degree was affordable and online, which made it possible,” Brooks said. “The best part of the degree in the interdisciplinary approach to public health and research practice.”

Michael Bordonaro earned his bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in marketing. He was active in the Student Activities Board and was a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.

“I got involved with SAB during my first semester,” he said. “I wanted to meet people, make friends and get involved. I enjoyed putting on activities and concerts for the students. It was a phenomenal experience. I learned how to work with vendors and artists, plan events and be a leader.”