News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

May 5, 2013

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College graduates women from 23 states

TERRE HAUTE — Grasping a college diploma means different things to different graduates.

To Lynne Huddleston of Oaktown, receiving her degree Saturday from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College was the triumphant final step in a journey that began eight years ago around the same time her son, Kaden, was born several weeks premature, creating big challenges at home to add to challenges at work and in the classroom.

“It’s been a very long road,” Huddleston said standing at the front of a long line of Woods students about to enter the Cecilian Auditorium for the 2013 spring commencement ceremony. “I’m very grateful to be here today.”

Huddleston was one of about 100 Woods students to take part in the graduation ceremony. In all, the four-year liberal arts college conferred degrees on about 130 students this spring.

The graduates included women from 23 states, said Dottie King, college president. One graduate, Leonora Dalipi, from the southeastern European country of Kosovo, was honored with the school’s Maud Helm Rockwell Medal for Academic Excellence. Alta Welker of Paris, Ill., also received the Rockwell Medal for Academic Excellence.

Commencement speaker Elizabeth Hagerman, vice president of Rose-Hulman Ventures, encouraged the graduates to seek opportunity and not be afraid to ask for it. It’s amazing how many doors will open if we just ask, she said.

Hagerman, a 2000 Rose-Hulman graduate with a master’s and doctorate from UCLA in biomedical engineering, also stressed the importance of embracing challenges, despite temporary discomfort, and not underestimating the importance of good communication.

“You have a long road of success and inspiration ahead of you,” Hagerman told the graduates. “I know your best work is ahead of you.”

SMWC also honored Ginger Smith, president of Princeton Mining Co., with the school’s Distinguished Alumnae Award. Smith, an Indiana State University graduate, received a second bachelor’s degree in business administration from The Woods in 1989.

“It means a lot to me because I have been coming to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods for about 60 years now,” Smith said of the honor before the ceremony. “It was a total surprise and very humbling. I’m very honored to receive the award.”

Her business education from The Woods has been critical in her career, Smith added.

Others honored Saturday included Cathleen Flynn of Mitchell, S.D. and Stephanie Miller of Terre Haute, recipients of alumni leadership medals. The Woods conferred Saint Catherine Medals on graduates Casandra Barnett of Brazil and Cynthia McCullough of Butlerville.

Faculty excellence awards were presented to Robert Jean, associate professor of ecology, Tracy Ricardson, professor of music and Ron Maurey, instructor of music.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or


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