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April 27, 2011
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Married couple marks milestone with May graduation

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Each has juggled work, homework and parenting responsibilities. Each has felt the stress of studying late at night, on weekends and when time allowed. The pressure-cooker balancing act for Bryan Fuhs, Slippery Rock University fiscal assistant for Institutional Research, and his wife, Cathy Fuhs, will lessen significantly May 7.
       The non-traditional students will receive bachelor’s degrees from SRU during commencement ceremonies involving nearly 1,000 graduates and thousands of guests.
       Making it even sweeter: Bryan and Cathy Fuhs will watch each other graduate. Cathy Fuhs will receive her degree in Spanish during the morning commencement; Bryan Fuhs will receive his degree in professional studies in the afternoon.
       “It was definitely a strain at times, especially for Cathy when the kids got sick, had dental or doctor appointments or had something school related going on,” Bryan Fuhs, of Harlansburg, said. “Our professors were very helpful and flexible with both of us. They definitely helped to ease some of the burden. We have some very caring and supportive professors at SRU, and we are very grateful to them.”
        SRU will confer 758 bachelor’s degrees, 148 master’s degrees and 50 doctor of physical therapy degrees. The 10 a.m. graduation is for the College of Health, Environment and Science, the College of Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts and graduate studies. The 2 p.m. graduation is for the College of Education and the College of Business, Information and Social Sciences. Both commencements will be staged in Morrow Field House, with an I-TV connection for overflow seating in the Russell Wright Alumni House and Conference Center.
        Seven Army ROTC cadets will be commissioned as officers and participate in a pinning ceremony at 4 p.m. in the Advanced Technology and Science Hall Auditorium.  Robert Smith, University president, will offer remarks at both graduation ceremonies.
     Bryan Fuhs joined SRU as an employee in Dec. 2004. He is a fiscal assistant in Institutional Research. The office provides information and data analysis that supports decision-making, strategic planning, accreditation, assessment and maintenance of statistical and historical records.
     Fuhs said he and his wife began classes in fall 2006. Both received a tuition waiver, a benefit of Bryan Fuhs’ job at SRU.
      “The tuition waiver absolutely made it possible,” Fuhs said. “We are both very grateful for the waiver, because it provided an opportunity for us to complete four-year degrees and do it affordably. There is no way that the two of us could have gone back to school to complete our degrees if we had to pay for it ourselves.”
      Fuhs said their three children and their extended family plan to attend commencement.  “This is a huge milestone for our family,” he said. “The funny thing is that while we both started at the same time, we never planned to finish at the same time. Somehow it just worked out that way.”
     Fuhs said he took two classes each semester, including one during his lunch hour and one at night. He enrolled in an online classes during summer. Cathy Fuhs scheduled classes when their three children were in school.
        “There were many weekends where we didn’t go anywhere and stayed home studying,” Bryan Fuhs said. “We could not have done it with all the support from SRU and family members.”
     Fuhs said he hopes his degree will enable him to advance at SRU. Cathy, currently a stay-at-home mother, plans to eventually re-enter the job market.
      “We know that it is competitive out there, but our degrees from Slippery Rock University better prepare us to face the challenges,” Fuhs said. “For both of us, beyond just the career aspect, the sense of accomplishment that we have gained from this experience is a major driving factor.”
        Commencement will also be memorable for Linda Quidone, SRU director of the Office for Students with Disabilities. She has been organizing graduations at SRU for 25 years and is stepping down after the May ceremony and turning over the organizational reins to the Public Relations Office because of the increasing needs of students with disabilities.
        “I feel bad, because I really enjoyed it. That is the truth,” she said.

       Quidone manages the more than 20 University managers who help at graduation. She said SRU’s graduation has become more organized. Color-coded walk-thru cards help to keep it simple and names are announced quicker.
    “We make it easier for parents to know when their student is going to go across the stage,” Quidone said. “We changed it to alphabetical order.”
      Quidone said the most satisfying aspect of graduation is seeing students who have worked in her office and students with disabilities graduate.
         “Just to see some of the students overcome their disability and graduate is a wonderful feeling,” she said.  “A lot of former students still keep in touch. I still hear from students who have graduated through the years.”

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.