ACU spring commencement 2000

For Immediate Release
April 25, 2000


Tom Craig, Director of Media and Community Relations
(915) 674-2692

Spring commencements for Abilene Christian University are just around the corner - undergraduate commencement is May 6 in Moody Coliseum at 1:30 p.m., and graduate commencement before that on the same day - May 6 in Cullen Auditorium at 11 a.m.

Interesting graduation stories behind the scenes include:

Whitney Sapienza and family

At ACU, quality is usually the focus instead of quantity, but a family is represented this year at commencement that epitomizes both quality AND quantity.

Among this family, there is:

  • Whitney Sapienza, who is graduating May 6,
  • Her brother, Philip Sapienza, who graduated last semester but walks May 6,
  • Her sister-in-law, Candice, who is graduating May 6,
  • Her cousin, Jason Groves, who is graduating May 6,
  • And other cousins, Jennifer Groves and Stephanie Grigg, both current students.

Whitney and Philip's parents and grandparents will attend the May 6 undergraduate commencement as well as several aunts, uncles and cousins.

A couple of days ago Whitney was asked how many in her family attended ACU. She had to do some calculating, and even called some family members, and she came up with at least 32 family members who have gone to ACU with or before her.

And she said that DOESN'T include one side of Jason and Jennifer's family!

Whitney and Philip are from Maine. Another branch of the family is in Missouri and another branch here in Texas.

Whitney said she had the choice to go to any university she wanted, but because ACU has always been a big part of her family and because here grandparents always talked about ACU and brought her here to visit, ACU was the obvious choice.

Neil Fry

Neil Fry's graduating class celebrated its 50th anniversary this semester, and on May 6 he is finishing the degree he left hanging in 1949.

Fry finishing his degree may surprise to some. A lot of people know him for his 31-year career here at ACU. While most people finish a degree for professional reasons, Fry's reason is a little bit different.

He said, "I don't want any of my grandchildren saying, 'Look at Granddad. He didn't need a college degree!'"

In 1949 Fry was a senior, but with the Korean War at hand, he chose to serve his country as an Air Force pilot. After that, he went into an impressive career of private and civic accomplishments, culminating in three four-year terms as a Taylor County commissioner serving the Abilene area. and as long in coming as Neil Fry's success story.

Sgt. Bill Albertson

As a single father, Sgt. Bill Albertson realized once he retires from the Air Force, he would need a strong career plan, and he found ACU's Bachelor of Applied Sciences program to help earn his degree and secure that career plan.

The BAS plan helps translate real work experience into college credit, so that got Bill started in 1996. Hurdles followed though, so much so that he has had to schedule leave from the Air Force to finish his class work at times. Even in the BAS program, it's hard to balance finishing a degree, serving active duty in the Air Force and raising a daughter by yourself.

But Albertson's success is evident - he's walking across the stage May 6, and he has been chosen for Who's Who honors.

Kenny Ngo

Kenny Ngo from Singapore walked into the music office the week before classes started in August 1997 and said he was at ACU to be a music major. The Music Department's Glenda Weatherford had not seen or heard of Kenny before that, so she started asking questions.

When asked what music he wanted to pursue, Kenny said, "All of it. I sing, I play the piano, and I compose music."

When asked if he could sight read, Kenny said, "No, that's what I came to learn."

After an interview with Dr. Ron Rathbun, the determination was Kenny most certainly had musical talent and could learn to sight read music without any problem.

Since then, he has distinguished himself by being the first student in at least 11 years to complete the Bachelor of Arts in Music in three years.

Kenny said when he first came to ACU his family was not pleased with his decision to come to the U.S. to study music, and he could not go home until he was completely finished. He stayed summers and Christmas breaks to take extra classes and finish early.

He did make a trip home at Christmas, and his family is pleased about his completing his degree in Music. Kenny graduates May 6 with honors.

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If you are a member of the media who would like more information about this release, please contact Tom Craig, director of media and community relations, at or call 915-674-2692 (cell phone: 665-5469).

Last update: April 25, 2000
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