WMU News

Intriguing and inspiring stories from Commencement

April 23, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- A fourth generation graduate. Twins with identical majors and nearly identical grade point averages. Graduates who have overcome illness and disability to achieve success. There are a number of inspiring and interesting stories of students who graduated April 22 in Commencement ceremonies at Western Michigan University.

Fourth-generation graduate

Jeremy Hammond of Kalamazoo, is the fourth generation of his family to attend WMU. His roots go back to his great-grandmother, Carmeleta Barton, who graduated in 1908. His grandparents, Ethel Humphrey Miller and Philip Barton Miller, met while attending WMU and both his parents, Robert and Christine Hammond, graduated in 1970. Hammond received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering April 22.

A double celebration

Twins Jason and Scott Pinchot (PIHN shoh) of Barrington, Ill., are more than a lot alike. They both came to Western Michigan University as Medallion Scholars in 1996, lived together while they attended school and graduated with bachelor's degrees in biomedical sciences. Both young men want to be doctors and are awaiting word about medical school acceptances. The only difference: their GPAs. Jason maintained a 4.0 GPA and pursued a second major in political science while brother Scott, maintained a 3.98 GPA.

Overcoming obstacles

Michael Kahwaji (Kah WAH jee) of Los Angeles is an example of perseverance and dedication. Kahwaji, who received a bachelor's degree in industrial design, has never let his battle against muscular dystrophy slow him down. In fact, he has found his illness to be inspiring rather than inhibiting, using his design talents to develop a special harness to make it easier for those with muscular dystrophy to maintain a normal range of arm motion and even participate in sports. It provides the kind of support normally derived from healthy back muscles, and it may even prove to be a substitute for surgical correction.

Beating the odds

In 1998, while attending WMU as an international student from Malaysia, Eng Lam Yap (EENG Luhm Yap) was diagnosed with leukemia. Determined to beat the illness, Yap was equally committed to finishing school. Despite enduring chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and ultimately undergoing a bone marrow transplant, Yap continued to attend classes. He achieved his goal of finishing school when he receives a bachelor's degree in computer systems engineering during April 22 Commencement ceremonies.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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