Winter Commencement Set for Dec. 16
About 200 students will participate in the Winter Commencement for Fairmont State
University, including Pierpont Community & Technical College, which begins at 1 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 16, at the Feaster Center. A reception in the Falcon Center will immediately
follow the ceremony.
Russell F. Bonasso, a dedicated Fairmont State alumnus and active member of the local community, will be the speaker. Bonasso will also receive the honorary degree, Doctor of Philanthropy. Tiffany Wood, a resident of Shepherdstown, W.Va., will be the student speaker for the graduating class. She will be graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Family and Consumer Sciences with a minor in Fashion Design.
"We at Fairmont State are honored to have Russell Bonasso as an alumnus and a friend," said FSU President Daniel J. Bradley. "We are glad to have this opportunity to honor him for his great contributions to our campus and our community."
Russell F. Bonasso is a Harrison County native, the descendant of Italian immigrants, the father of 12 children, grandfather to 49 and great-grandfather to six. He is a Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) for the U.S. Army Reserves. He graduated summa cum laude from Fairmont State College at the age of 74, and is a master's level student of history at West Virginia University.
He is an author whose book, "Fire in the Hole," is used in the curriculum at Fairmont State University. Sales of his book have funded 40 student scholarships, and he assists in the teaching of mining history. He writes for the Shinnston News and Journal. Columns from that writing will become a book titled "Carpe Diem." He has also written a family history, "Cas'Allegro."
Bonasso has been involved in establishing health care centers in Guatemala and Ecuador. He founded Crusade for Coats, which has assisted charitable agencies in gathering and distributing over 25,000 pieces of warm clothing. He personally collects and distributes food each week to three area soup kitchens, as well as prepares Italian meals for the Soup Opera each month.
He transports cancer patients for treatment to various hospitals; he has worked on the United Way campaign, has been chairman of the Tuberculosis Foundation and has been a member of Meals on Wheels for 23 years. In 1999 he became coordinator of North Central West Virginia's CORE, the Center for Organ Recovery and Education. He has served on the Governor's Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
He was a charter member and president of the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival and is a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus. He has received the Jaycees' Man of the Year Award, the Governor's Service Award and the Italian Heritage Festival Achievement Award for education. The Marion County Commission proclaimed September 3, 1997, as Russell F. Bonasso Day. In 2004, he was named Man of the Year for Southern Italy for your humanitarian efforts following World War II and received the Fairmont State University President's Award for Service in that same year.
At FSU, Tiffany Wood has been a member of the Family and Consumer Sciences Club and has served as an officer. She has been a member of the West Virginia chapter of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences and has also served as a student officer for this organization. Wood was a member of Collegiate Singers for two years. She served as a Student Government member for 1 ½ years and was selected as Homecoming Queen in 2004. She worked for the Office of Residence Life for 3 Â½ years as a Resident Assistant and a Resident Director and as an office assistant. Wood has served as a Freshman Orientation Counselor for three years. She has been on the Dean's List.
She is the daughter of Barry F. and Jennifer Wood of Shepherdstown and the granddaughter of Sophia Audia of Lumberport. She is a 2001 graduate of Jefferson High School.