Married with diplomas

Married… with diplomas!

(In photo above, L. to r.): Amy and Dan Landes, Joe and Jen Horst Loren and Pat Swartzendruber, Jared and Addie Leaman and Tyler and Rosanna Coblentz. Photo by Jim Bishop

By Jeremy Hunt, Daily News-Record

Several Eastern Mennonite University students couldn't wait until after graduation to start the next stage of their lives.

Four young married couples from EMU were among the 348 students who received their undergraduate diplomas at Sunday's commencement.

(They are: Tyler and Rosanna Shetler Coblentz, Kalona, Iowa; Joseph and Jennifer Edwards Horst, Dalton, Ohio; Daniel and Amy Yoder Landes, Hilltown, Pa.; and Jared and Adrianne Miller Leaman, Broadway, Va. Daniel Landes, who received a bachelor of arts degree in communication with a minor in political science, was co-president of the senior class along with Lauren R. Byler, a nursing graduate from Belleville, Pa. They gave the senior class salutation at the baccalaureate service Apr. 25.)

Now that their college years are officially over, the newlyweds are looking forward to their futures together.

"It was great," said Joe Horst, 22. "We're glad we didn't wait. We were able to be there for each other."

Added his 21-year-old wife Jen: "I think it made us more ready to move on from college."

The Horsts got married in August and spent their last year at Eastern Mennonite working as a team.

The transition also worked well for the Leamans, who were married in June.

"It made it easier to have a little bit slower pace," said Jared Leaman, 23. "We were better students because of it."

So was it weird spending senior year in college as a married couple?

Not really, they say.

"I don't feel like it was that different," said 21-year-old mother-to-be Addie Leaman. "Most of our friends are engaged couples."

'This Is Your Day'

Nearly 4,000 people gathered for the commencement ceremony Sunday at the university.

In addition to the undergraduate degrees, the university awarded 95 graduate degrees, nine graduate certificates and 12 study and pastoral ministry certificates.

"This is your day," EMU President Loren Swartzendruber told the graduates.

The ceremony's keynote address was given by 1965 EMU grad Joyce Bontrager Lehman.

Bontrager Lehman is a program officer for microfinance for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's "Financial Services for the Poor" initiative.

Bontrager Lehman urged the students to be prepared to take advantage of every opportunity presented to them, saying the best way to change the world is with a "trickle-up" approach.

"What matters most is that your work reflects your core values, that you not be afraid to take chances, that you chase interesting ideas and that you follow and walk through the doors of opportunity," she said.

Posthumous Degree Given

EMU also gave a posthumous honorary master's degree to a student who died earlier this year.

Jan Jennings Wampler, 49, of Weyers Cave, died on March 7 due to complications of juvenile diabetes.

Wampler taught physical education at McGaheysville Elementary School for more than 20 years before taking medical leave in 2007, according to an EMU news release.

At the time of her death, she had finished all the coursework for a master's in education literacy except an "action research project," the news release says.

Her husband, Wesley Wampler, accepted the degree from Swartzendruber.

— article by Jeremy Hunt, Daily News-Record posted April 14, 2009