Rain doesn't dampen spirits at USC-Salk graduation

As the rain rolled off the gym roof at USC-Salehatchie in Allendale during its 2009 commencement exercises, its dean, Ann Carmichael, told the crowd, "USC-Salkehatchie will not only thrive - it will survive."

About 65 graduates attended the ceremony and received their associate and bachelor degrees.

The graduating class had a total of 91 students including some who earned their degrees in December, 2008.

"I'm glad we have good roofs here," said Harris Pastides, the president of USC-Salkehatchie.

The thundering downpour became so loud the crowd could barely hear Pastides speak at times.

"I wish every one of you good luck and godspeed," he told the graduates.

Commencement speaker Joe Winkelsas addressed the graduates.

Winkelsas is a 1995 USC Salkehatchie graduate who played on the Salkehatchie Indians baseball team.

He went on to pitch for the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers.

Winkelsas - a Buffalo, N.Y. native - said going to USC-Salkehatchie was one of the best decisions of his life and he was impressed with the area's southern hospitality.

"It was impossible to get in trouble out here," he quipped.

Winkelsas spoke about the power found in forgiving people who have wronged you.

"When you make a decision, you are affecting other people," said Winkelsas. "Don't cover your pain."

On of the best decisions of "your life will be to forgive others" he told the graduates before they walked up the aisle to get their diplomas.