The traditional turning of the tassels were among the many celebrations for the graduates at the College of Southern Maryland's 21st Winter Commencement. Image courtesy of College of southern Maryland

College of Southern Maryland Celebrates its 21st Winter Commencement

508 Candidates, Ages 19-62, Earn Degrees and Certificates

News Release, College of Southern Maryland

La Plata, MD- The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) honored 508 candidates for 465 degrees and 255 certificates during its 21st Winter Commencement Jan. 16 at the La Plata Campus. The degrees and certificates spanned 64 programs of study.

Of the students earning recognition, 133 were from Calvert County, 166 were from Charles County and 165 were from St. Mary’s County. The majority of degrees, or nearly 31 percent, were in the field of arts and sciences, nursing and general studies. General study transfers, emergency medical services – paramedic, advanced accounting and cybersecurity were the primary certificates awarded.

The graduates ranged in age from 19 to 62. Of the associate degree candidates, more than 18 percent graduated with honors.

“Every student who is graduating today has had to overcome challenges to get to this point,” said CSM President Dr. Maureen Murphy who offered the first of several congratulatory remarks to the graduates. “Limited finances. Medical problems. Juggling family or work responsibilities. No goal is achieved without some struggle, some challenge to get beyond.

“All of our students are an inspiration to all of us,” she continued. “Many have completed their studies while working, raising families, and volunteering in your community. That is what makes our graduates so special. Your determination and persistence have paid off. We hope that the learning you were a part of here at CSM will help you fulfill a lifelong sense of purpose.”

‘Be a Doer, Not a Dreamer’

Next, Faculty Senate President Dr. Sarah Merranko urged the graduates to ‘ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer.’

“While dreams are wonderful,” she continued, “in fact, at times they may sustain us and give us comfort when we have nothing else, they can also prevent us from doing the actual work that is necessary. We all know those people who say—one day I’ll start that business—or solve that problem—or build that building, write that book, earn that degree and so on. True success is achieved by making dreams come to pass. The people who achieve the loftiest goals, the biggest successes and realize the greatest achievements are the people who wake up, take action and make a plan while others merely dream. Our world needs new ideas and bold leaders who can come up with them. We need dreamers, but dreamers who are dedicated to getting things done.”

(Read Merranko’s entire speech.)

Lois DiNatale Receives Distinguished Service Award

CSM Board of Trustee Lois DiNatale

The CSM Board of Trustees honored fellow trustee Lois DiNatale with the Trustee Distinguished Service Award. The honor recognized DiNatale’s service of two full terms from 2009 to 2019 and her continuous service currently until the new appointment is announced by the governor’s office.

Appointed in 2009 by then-Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley to serve as a CSM trustee, DiNatale became a valued trustee representing Charles County within the tri-county regional board.

“Recently retired, Lois had an impressive career as a Navy civilian with over 33 years of experience as a senior subject matter expert in the environmental and explosives safety fields,” shared CSM Board of Trustee Chair Ted Harwood. “In her most recent assignment, she served as the Navy’s Operational Ranges Environmental Sustainability Program Manager for the Chief of Naval Operations.”

She remains active in the community and many organizations have benefitted from her service including in her roles as a past president of the Optimist Club of Hollywood, board member and chair of a local Southern States Cooperative Advisory Board, and as a member of the Masons.

“Lois has made significant contributions to the board participating and chairing many committees; her leadership, commitment, keen insight and passion for the students, staff and faculty has helped to ensure that governance of this institution operates at high standards in order to best uphold the mission of the college,” Harwood added.

DiNatale earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in environmental science from the University of Maryland Global Campus. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in education from The George Washington University.

Latasha Gatling Receives Faculty Excellence Award

History Instructor Latasha C. Gatling receives the Faculty Excellence Award Honoring Adjunct Faculty.

Latasha C. Gatling was selected to receive the 2019-2020 Faculty Excellence Award Honoring Adjunct Faculty. This award recognizes outstanding contributions to teaching, professional development, the CSM mission and the community at-large.

Gatling is an adjunct professor, teaching history in the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education Division since 2006. Described as a dedicated and innovative instructor, she was recognized by her colleagues for her ability to use multiple methods to engage students and she developed the college’s first hybrid history class.

“LaTasha has been, in every way, an asset the history program, eager to support our students and faculty,” wrote CSM Humanities Coordinator Dr. Christine Arnold-Lourie in Gatling’s nomination. “She has been with CSM for over a decade, during which time she has taught all five of our history survey courses, in every platform. Her work, however, has gone beyond simply teaching classes. She is a dedicated and innovative teacher, using multiple methods to engage students; I have observed her classes and her students are clearly learning and enjoying the work. I cannot think of a better recipient of this award.”

According to Merranko, a woman who had previously been a student of Gatling reached out to Gatling via email last fall and wrote:

“Many years ago I was a student of yours in History 1031 at the College of Southern Maryland during which time, I shared with you how your class impacted me in a lot of ways.  Needless to say, I am now teaching social students in a high school environment. I am sitting at my desk and looking at my students and I thought of you. All I know is you were there for us and what you shared with me stayed in my heart all these years.”

Within the community, Gatling serves on the board for the Historic McConchie One-Room School, and has been a contributor to the Teaching Professors Conference as well as to the Association of Faculties for Advancement of Community College Teaching (AFACCT) conference. Gatling received her bachelor’s degree from Bowie State University and her master’s degree from Morgan State University. In addition, she has completed CSM’s Faculty Adjunct Certification Program, gaining Level III certification.

To view photographs of CSM’s 21th Winter Commencement, visit

To view photographs of CSM’s Nurse Pinning and Recognition Ceremony, visit

For the listing of graduates, click here.

The Southern Maryland Chronicle is a local, small business entrusted to provide factual, unbiased reporting to the Southern Maryland Community. While we look to local businesses for advertising, we hope to keep that cost as low as possible in order to attract even the smallest of local businesses and help them get out to the public. We must also be able to pay employees(part-time and full-time), along with equipment, and website related things. We never want to make the Chronicle a “pay-wall” style news site.

To that end, we are looking to the community to offer donations. Whether it’s a one-time donation or you set up a reoccurring monthly donation. It is all appreciated. All donations at this time will be going to furthering the Chronicle through hiring individuals that have the same goals of providing fair, and unbiased news to the community. For now, donations will be going to a business PayPal account I have set-up for the Southern Maryland Chronicle, KDC Designs. All business transactions currently occur within this PayPal account. If you have any questions regarding this you can email me at

Thank you for all of your support and I hope to continue bringing Southern Maryland the best news possible for a very long time. — David M. Higgins II

© 2019 The Southern Maryland Chronicle. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.