Update from Appalachian State University

Friday, May 12, 2023

Today begins our Spring Commencement ceremonies. Over the next two days, we will celebrate more than 3,600 graduates who have reached a significant milestone in their academic careers. These newest graduates will join more than 143,000 App State alumni who are contributing to their communities across our state, our nation and the world. We hope each of you will stay connected with your alma mater.

The Class of 2023 graduating this weekend includes graduates representing 30 states and 28 countries, who range in age from 18 to 78. Almost 1,200 are first-generation college graduates, more than 40 are military-affiliated and more than 145 are student-athletes.

As we celebrate each graduate’s accomplishments, we also take time to thank those who have helped ensure the success of the graduates we celebrate this weekend. Thank you to the faculty, who share knowledge, provide professional mentorship and open doors to new possibilities for our graduates. Thank you to the staff, who provide care, assistance and support. Thank you to the families and loved ones of our graduates, who are the reason our graduates have reached this day. You have been their champions, supporting them in ways they have seen, and in ways they may not have seen. As we celebrate them, we also celebrate you.

Every commencement and every graduate has a unique story. These stories add to the Mountaineer spirit of tenaciousness that is a part of the App State Experience.

  • Aidan Keaveney, a Durham native and Chancellor’s Scholar who is in App State’s Accelerated Master’s Program for engineering physics, will graduate with bachelor’s degrees in both applied physics and mathematics. Aidan, an Honors College student, won an Honors College research grant for his groundbreaking honors thesis of developing and implementing a model rocketry curriculum for home-school and alternative education groups.

  • Craig Pergerson, a 78-year-old Vietnam veteran, is graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration specializing in marketing, after retiring from owning his financial planning business in Greensboro. After 42 years of working in insurance and financial planning and achieving his dream of earning an App State degree, Craig looks forward to spending more time with his wife of 57 years, as well as his two children and five grandchildren.

  • Haleigh Lawson, a 19-year-old graduate from Boone, will earn her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration specializing in management. She accomplished this in two years after graduating from Watauga High School with both her high school diploma and an associate degree. Haleigh will continue with the job she held while a student, utilizing the North Carolina Insurance License she also earned, and now her App State degree.

  • Wendy Wilt, a 12-year staff member at App State who earned her high school diploma at the age of 39, followed by an associate degree from Caldwell Community College, walked across the commencement stage this morning to accept her Bachelor of Science in public health. Wendy, who works in University Advancement and owns a private business in Caldwell County, took advantage of App State’s tuition waiver program for employees, taking six to nine hours each semester to earn her degree.

  • Jon Spaar is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice with a minor in military science and leadership. The Winston-Salem native was very active in App State’s Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and was selected in 2023 for the U.S. Army Cadet Command George C. Marshall Award, which is awarded to the top cadets in the nation. Jon will commission this summer as an Infantry Second Lieutenant.

These are just a few of thousands of inspiring App State stories. Each of our graduates has overcome challenges, persevered through the additional obstacles presented by the global pandemic, built meaningful connections with faculty and staff that will serve them throughout their personal and professional lives, connected with the surrounding community and made memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.

Graduates, as you leave App State, you take everything you have earned with you, and you also leave a part of yourselves here. Remember, you will always have a home here on the mountain. We thank each of you for giving your all to App State.


Sheri Everts