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University of Maryland University College Asia graduates listen to speakers during the 52nd commencement held Saturday at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo.
University of Maryland University College Asia graduates listen to speakers during the 52nd commencement held Saturday at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo. (Hana Kusumoto / S&S)
University of Maryland University College Asia graduates listen to speakers during the 52nd commencement held Saturday at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo.
University of Maryland University College Asia graduates listen to speakers during the 52nd commencement held Saturday at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo. (Hana Kusumoto / S&S)
Susan C. Aldridge, president of University of Maryland University College congratulates the graduates Saturday during the 52nd commencement at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo.
Susan C. Aldridge, president of University of Maryland University College congratulates the graduates Saturday during the 52nd commencement at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo. (Hana Kusumoto / S&S)
University of Maryland University College Asia graduates await for the 52nd commencement to begin Saturday at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo.
University of Maryland University College Asia graduates await for the 52nd commencement to begin Saturday at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo. (Hana Kusumoto / S&S)
Major Gen. Larry D. James, 5th Air Force vice commander and 13th Air Force deputy commander, addresses graduates of University of Maryland University College Asia during the 52nd commencement at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo on Saturday.
Major Gen. Larry D. James, 5th Air Force vice commander and 13th Air Force deputy commander, addresses graduates of University of Maryland University College Asia during the 52nd commencement at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo on Saturday. (Hana Kusumoto / S&S)

TOKYO — More than 80 students walked the aisle Saturday in the name of academic achievement during University of Maryland University College Asia’s 52nd commencement at the New Sanno Hotel.

It was the first of three ceremonies in the Pacific. The school also will stage graduation events in Seoul and on Okinawa the next two weekends.

“We are excited about our 52nd commencement season in Asia and the joy that brings,” UMUC Asia interim Vice President and director William C. Beck. “It’s always a thrill to see our students reaching their educational goals and moving on to the next stage of their lives.”

Saturday’s guest speaker was Maj. Gen. Larry D. James, the 5th Air Force vice commander and deputy commander of the 13th Air Force at Yokota Air Base.

Other VIPs in attendance included UMUC president Susan Aldridge; James E. Sherwood, UMUC’s provost and chief academic officer; and David H. Nevins of the University System of Maryland’s board of regents.

Eighty-two graduates marched in the ceremony. Among them were 24 servicemembers, 29 military dependents, 22 U.S. civilians and seven Japanese nationals.

“It’s a great feeling, an accomplished feeling,” said Master Sgt. Juan Coley, 41, an aircraft analyst with Yokota’s 374th Maintenance Operations Squadron.

Many graduates — including Coley, who worked on his business degree for seven years — said it was difficult balancing studies with work and family, as well as deployments.

Chief Petty Officer Thomas Hollingshead, 35, of Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Far East at Yokosuka Naval Base, worked on part of his degree in Iraq and just returned to Japan in time for Saturday’s graduation.

“I got to graduate and participate in commencement with my colleagues,” he said.

He also wants to hold up the degree as motivation for his own children in their academic pursuits, Hollingshead added.

“[It] broadens your horizon, keeps opportunities open for your future,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Esther Emoto, 24, also of Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Far East. “Everything changes.”

UMUC will award about 800 degrees this year, administrators said.

2008 graduates at Tokyo commencement ceremonyHere is a list of the 2008 graduates who took part in University of Maryland University College Asia’s commencement ceremony Saturday at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo:

Associate of ArtsDeShanda Denise Ashe-BlairInes Louise Driver-RossEsther Shizuka EmotoSusan F. EvansMario Mitchell FailAnna Catherine FinchTheresa Denise FrazierArlene Lim HopkinsMelissa DeAnne LopezCedric Arnell McCormickEarl Anthony McLaughlinCharles I.S. MuwallifLanzo NesmithReiko OtaStephanie Marie PenwellDonisha Jeone PritchardKristin N. SalasFidel San MiguelJennifer Lynn SheaYulanda SladeHirotake TakayaKelly Bernadette Maria Torres

Bachelor of Arts/ScienceCarl S. Alexander Jr.Adrian ArangoRachel Dawn BarlowThomas BeckRachel Ann BlissKevin BraggHafiz Naim Ali CampJuan Antonio ColeyJoseph D. Crawford Jr.Abigail Jean DouglassDebbie Lynn DustmanCarlos Espenosa ElliottMarcus Daniel FlemingKaren Nicole FordYuka FurumachiAzumi FuruyaGaylan Andre GrayMari Eden GulleyRossalind Barnum HarveyThomas L. HollingsheadCarrie Ann HoxieSeptember Dawn HughesRuth E. HutchinsonKiyoko ItagakiShivonya Shanelle JeffersonThaise LaVette JenningsJustina Leslie JensenMonica Lyn JonesAnneli B. Mattsson KershawJustin Carl KoningTimothy Russell KruegerDarren Curtis LongStephanie Lee MartinNobuko Yajima McNeeleyJacques Jose Castillo NicdaoSandra Otuwaah OtooKaylin Robyn PalmerKevin ParringtonFlorence Elisa Batanean RabagoAaron Bru RainierJames Kenji RittonClaudia Maldonado RomeroAmy Lalaine ScrogginsShalatikka Reneé SmithDonna Louise SmoakDerrick SpiveyMichael Anthony StaggsAtsuko TachizakiBienvenido Garcia Tapang Jr.Sandra Rena ToliverJohnny L. Truesdale Jr.Tomoko WatanabeJacob Jackson WakefieldRichard Joseph WeigleSuzanne Jeanette WhiteSeiko YasudaGregory Zaboski

Master’s degrees James Keith Freeman, M.S.Christine Mika Gardaya, M.A.Susano Loya, MBABruce Piland, M.S.Marci Rockhold, M.S.

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