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KSC Holds Special Commencement for Athletes

KEENE, N.H., 5/10/10 - Unable to attend Keene State College’s graduation on Saturday, May 8, student athletes Peter Najem of Derry, N.H., and Stephanie Lavado from Wallingford, Conn., were awarded their degrees in a special commencement ceremony on Monday.

Najem, a member of the KSC track team, was competing at the New England Championships on Saturday, while Lavado and her teammates were participating in the Little East Conference softball tournament.

Najem and Lavado, who traded in their uniforms for caps and gowns on Monday, were surrounded by family, friends, and teammates as well as their respective coaches Peter Thomas and Dr. Charlie Beach at the event held at the college’s new Alumni Center.

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Special Commencement for Athletes

(left to right) Dr. Andy Robinson, vice president of Student Affairs; Dr. Emile Netzhammer, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs; Dr. Charlie Beach, professor emeritus and head softball coach; Stephanie Lavado; Peter Najem; Peter Thomas, KSC track coach; Maryann Lindberg, vice president for Advancement (Chris Justice photo)

“Although you couldn’t be at the ceremony on Saturday, we are grateful to honor you for your academic achievement,” Dr. Emile Netzhammer, Keene State’s provost and vice-president of Academic Affairs, told the two graduates.

Both Najem and Lavado were appreciative of the college for having the special ceremony. “It’s great to experience the ceremony instead of just getting a diploma,” said Najem, who received his degree in environmental studies.

Pete’s parents, Ken and Cindy, got to attend two graduations. Their son Kenny received his degree in computer science on Saturday. “I thought I’d get away with one,” said a smiling Ken Najem. “The College takes the extra step to make sure everyone gets their diploma the right way, and I appreciate it.”

“We were faithful to our team and they were loyal to us,” said Lavado, who earned her degree in physical education.

“This is something Stephanie wanted very dearly four years ago when she came to Keene State,” said David Lavado, who attended the ceremony along with his wife Julie. “She’s making one of her life’s dreams come true. I’m very proud of her, on and off the field.”

The season is not over for Najem and Lavado. Najem will run at the NCAA Division III Track Championships, while Lavado and the Owl softball team have accepted a berth to play in the ECAC New England tournament.

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