A Decent Proposal: Grad Pops the Question at Commencement Ceremony
The audience at Penn State DuBois' Fall Commencement Ceremony in Hiller Auditorium saw much more than pomp and circumstance this year, when one graduate decided to use the venue to propose to his long-time girlfriend.
Graduate Ed Williams, of DuBois, led the audience on a rollercoaster of emotion throughout a speech he gave at commencement, as his girlfriend, and the couple's six year old daughter looked on from the front row. He had just received his bachelor's degree in Letters, Arts, and Sciences, and was presented with the Academic Award for carrying the highest GPA among baccalaureate students. He thanked his family, and paid homage to his sister, whose untimely death happened while she, herself, was a college student.
Williams then spoke of what brought him to Penn State DuBois as a returning adult student; a fateful motorcycle accident, that happened nearly a year to the day after his daughter was born.
"I should have been dead," Williams said. "I was thrown 92 feet, and had severe head trauma. I severed an artery in my head."
After a full recover, Williams was ready to return to his new job as a car salesman. However, since he had not yet been with the dealership through his probationary period before taking leave to heal, he was told his job was no longer there.
"I figured it was time to do something different. I went straight from the dealership, right to the admissions office at Penn State DuBois. They told me to fill out an application and get it in ASAP," said Williams. "If I would have kept working there, I wouldn't be here now," he said, noting that he plans to attend law school now that his undergraduate studies are complete.
The highlight, however, came at the end of Williams' speech. Looking at his girlfriend, Toni Adams, in the front row with their daughter, Natalia, Williams popped the question.
"Toni, it's time to make it official," he said. "Will you marry me?"
Though it was difficult to hear Adams' answer over the applause and cheers, the way in which she ran to Williams and threw her arms around him said, "yes".
In making his mark with this public proposal, Williams seemed to take a cue from the commencement address he heard just minutes before. Commencement speaker Jim Baker, a vice president and commercial lender for CNB Bank, asked the graduates how their autobiography might read if they chose to write one.
"In 35 years, as you look back on your career and your life, and your own autobiography," Baker said. Will it be a short story, a book, or a novel? It's entirely up to you."
The couple, who has not yet set a date, will continue to reside in DuBois with their daughter. Adams is an event specialist with Cross Mark, a company that handles promotional campaigns for Wal-Mart. Williams is looking forward to law school, and determining which school he'll attend.
In all, 56 graduates earned their degrees from Penn State DuBois this fall.