Graduating mother, son have double reason for joy

Around the state, colleges hold commencements

May 23, 1999|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Two years ago, Robert Zmarzly watched his mother graduate from the College of Notre Dame, and he got an idea. They both wanted to pursue master's degrees, so why not do it together?

Yesterday, Robert and Carol Zmarzly were the last of 505 students who were awarded degrees at the 101st commencement exercises at the College of Notre Dame.

Although the two didn't study the same subjects -- Carol Zmarzly earned her master's in management while her son received his in education -- they did occasionally cross paths.

"She hugged me in the hallways," said Robert Zmarzly, 26, a systems trainer at Legg Mason who lives in Catonsville.

The Zmarzlys decided to celebrate their dual graduations in style. They rented a limousine to take them to the ceremony, then planned to go to the ESPN Zone restaurant in the Inner Harbor, where they had reserved the skybox.

"We're not going to do this very often, so we decided to live it up," said Carol Zmarzly, a 54-year-old Hanover resident and manager at TRW Inc. "I told him we ought to go for a doctorate, and he's thinking about it."

The College of Notre Dame's Charles Street campus was lush and green yesterday for the outdoor graduation in front of LeClerc Hall. Under the hot mid-morning sun, students and their guests tried to stay cool under umbrellas and hats, and by fanning themselves with commencement programs.

The Catholic liberal arts college for women admits men in its graduate programs and its Weekend College for undergraduates.

Receiving an honorary doctorate was Sister Helen E. Amos, R.S.M., president and chief executive officer of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore since 1992.

Amos oversaw the growth of the Center for Women's Health and Medicine and the purchase in 1997 of the Cardinal Shehan Center/Stella Maris long-term care facility in Towson.

College officials praised Amos for her commitment to bringing affordable health care to downtown residents, particularly young mothers and children.

Graduation speaker Paul R. McHugh, head of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry, recalled how he had first heard of Notre Dame from his mother, Mary Herlihy McHugh, a member of the class of 1927.

The internationally known specialist in neuropsychiatric disorders and addictions told graduates that he formed his ideas about the college by paging through his mother's college yearbooks as a child.

"I came to cherish this college this warm, demi-paradise with its giant oaks, betowered buildings, and earnest young women who seemed to choose for their dress either academic garb or field hockey uniforms," said McHugh, who also received an honorary doctorate yesterday.

McHugh told graduates that they have now acquired basic skills and intellectual foundations. "The rehearsal is over," he said. "It's for keeps."

He contrasted the prosperous, mostly peaceful world facing current graduates to the Depression and world war that awaited his mother's generation.

"In your time, the enemy is more abstract and insidious -- a cynical nihilism about the truths of the heart," McHugh said.

"Your heroines and heroes will be inspired by revisiting our challenged traditions and finding renewed confidence to better the world."

Western Maryland College

At Western Maryland College in Westminster, 437 students collected bachelor's and master's degrees at the school's graduation ceremony before more than 3,000 relatives and friends at the school's Robert J. Gill Center.

The 132-year-old liberal arts college awarded an honorary doctoral degree to Walter Sondheim Jr., a driving force in Maryland education and economic development for more than 50 years. Currently president of the Maryland State Board of Education, Sondheim led a major school reform effort that culminated in the 1989 "Sondheim Report."

The report called for more school accountability and was the impetus behind the development of the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program, known as MSPAP.

Western Maryland president Robert Chambers described Sondheim as "the very embodiment of the 20th century public servant."

Sondheim, appearing slightly embarrassed, said the honor gave him "genuine pleasure." "This great college is placing its hard-earned reputation at grave risk by honoring me in this generous way," he said.

Also receiving an honorary doctorate was NBC News correspondent Bob Faw, who has received numerous awards for his reporting in this country and overseas.

Originally from Salisbury, Faw said he is troubled by the increasingly blurred line between television news and entertainment.

"I know what most people think of television news reporters, and the last time I looked we were pretty low on the food chain," Faw told the graduates. "I accept this with a renewed determination to do the job we're supposed to do better."

Hood College

At Hood College in Frederick, 235 students received bachelor's degrees and 178 graduate students earned master's degrees at yesterday's graduation.

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