Last updated: August 17. 2013 11:39PM - 2268 Views
SUSAN DENNEY Times Leader Correspondent

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WILKES-BARRE — After several years in another location, summer graduation exercises returned to King’s College campus on Saturday. The newly air-conditioned Scandlon Center was the site of commencement activities for 65 students receiving bachelor’s or master’s degrees.

The majority of graduates were receiving their Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies.

For Jillian Emerick, 23, of Bear Creek, her physician assistant’s degree represents five years of hard work. She chose the program because of her interest in a variety of health fields.

“I wanted to go into health care but I wanted the option to go into many different fields,” said Emerick. “You can’t do that if you’re an M.D.”

She said her interest in health care was natural. “Mom’s a nurse, and I grew up around medicine.” Emerick said that the King’s program was rigorous. “No social life! You give up everything.” But she also said that it was worth it in the end. Emerick already has secured a job and will be working in an area family practice.

For Walter “Butch” Barron, 52, of Scranton the journey to his bachelor’s degree in leadership and global dynamics has been long. Barron dropped out of high school to support his family, he said, and it wasn’t until the birth of his son in 1985 that he went back and got his GED.

He began college studies at Keystone College in 1996 and finished with an associate’s degree in business administration in 2000.

He decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree at King’s because of his work with employee groups. He realized that his interest was in working with people. He is now employed as a human resources manager with Maui Cup in Pittston.

His wife Donna is a big part of his success, he said. “She made sure I had time and she showed interest in my education. She’s a cheerleader.”

He advised those people who might think the time has past for completing an education: “Follow your dream. If you have the ambition to do something, you can complete anything.”

Commencement speaker Cornelio Catena, the CEO of Commonwealth Health, directed his comments mainly to the graduates in the health sciences. He told them health care is “in the midst of a major shift.” He told the graduates that their services would be needed as the U.S. population continues to age.

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