A Student Remembered

Today I had the honor of speaking at a special ceremony in remembrance of Megan Bates. A student in one of my classes last semester, Megan tragically died in an automobile accident last December. At today’s ceremony, Megan was posthumously awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from West Chester University. President Madeleine Wing Adler was present to give the degree personally to Megan’s parents. Many of Megan’s friends and family attended the ceremony, as did Provost Linda Lamwers, Vice President for Student Affairs Matt Bricketto, and Interim Associate Provost Darla Spence Coffee, who was instrumental in planning the ceremony. Many of my faculty colleagues attended as well, including our department chair, Dennis Klinzing. And I was so pleased to see many of Megan’s classmates at the ceremony, two of whom, Cassie Pawlowski and Katie Hazzard, also gave formal remarks.

Megan BatesIn my remarks today, I mentioned the demo DVD that Megan made in the class she took with me. The photo to the right is a still taken from that DVD. (Click on the photo to enlarge it.) As I mentioned today, Megan had a great on-camera presence.

Below is the text of the remarks I made at today’s ceremony…

One of the special privileges of being a professor is the opportunity to be a part of the exciting lives of college students. My students are at the dawn of their adult lives. When they leave the University, most are looking forward to careers, to starting new families, to pursuing their life passions.

So when one of those students is taken from us, when one of those lives is cut far too short, it is more than just sad. It is a genuine injustice when a young person doesn’t get to fully experience the joys and pains of growing older. It’s like a blossom that is cut down just as it’s starting to bloom.

Megan Bates was one of my students last semester in the broadcast performance class I teach here at West Chester University. This course is rather unique, in that my role is more like a coach than a professor. Like I tell my students on the first day of class: I can teach you skills, but I must coach your talent. So in this course I try to bring out the best in my students, to encourage them and critique them as they develop and polish their talent in front of a camera and behind a microphone. I can honestly say that Megan had a great presence on camera. I’m so glad that we were able to capture and preserve some of that presence in the demo DVD she made in my class. Megan seemed to have a natural ability to connect with the audience, to look straight into the camera and project a proud and confident personality. I’m honored to have been able to help her polish that talent, and I so very much wish she were here with us today. She would have gone far.

But life isn’t always fair. Things don’t always work out as planned. And Megan is with us now only in our memories, in our hearts, in our hopes for what lies beyond this life.

So as one of the last professors Megan studied with at West Chester, I would just like to say…here in front of her friends, her classmates, her family…I’m proud of you Megan. You were a good student, a talented individual, and a fine person. You truly earned this degree we are awarding you today. You deserved to graduate from West Chester University. Indeed, you deserved so much more.

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