Spangdahlem graduate recognized at UMUC-Europe commencement

HEIDELBERG, GERMANY -- Jeremy Bigham, of the Spangdalem military community, receives the University of Maryland University College-Europe the William C. Bentley Memorial Award from university president, Dr. Susan C. Aldridge. The award was established in 1983 and is presented each year in honor of Colonel William C. Bentley, the first student to earn a UMUC degree through study in Europe. The award is presented annually to the UMUC-Europe baccalaureate graduate with the highest cumulative grade point average. Mr. Bigham is the spouse of Senior Airman Pamela Bigham, 52nd Operations Support Squadron.  (Courtesy photo)

HEIDELBERG, GERMANY -- Jeremy Bigham, of the Spangdalem military community, receives the University of Maryland University College-Europe the William C. Bentley Memorial Award from university president, Dr. Susan C. Aldridge. The award was established in 1983 and is presented each year in honor of Colonel William C. Bentley, the first student to earn a UMUC degree through study in Europe. The award is presented annually to the UMUC-Europe baccalaureate graduate with the highest cumulative grade point average. Mr. Bigham is the spouse of Senior Airman Pamela Bigham, 52nd Operations Support Squadron. (Courtesy photo)

HEIDELBERG, GERMANY -- Sunday, May 27 marked the end of a long journey for many University of Maryland University College-Europe and Bowie State University students. Accompanied by the cheers from a crowd of almost 1,500 faculty, staff, family and friends, 240 members of the 2007 graduating class gathered in the afternoon to receive their associate's, bachelor's or master's degree.

For Jeremy V. Bigham, of the Spangdalem military community, it marked the end of three years of full-time study and recognition of his hard work, dedication and sacrifice. Each year, UMUC-Europe presents the William C. Bentley Memorial Award to the student with the highest cumulative grade point average and this year Mr. Bigham was the honored recipient.

During the student speaker address, Mr. Bigham said, "I want to personally thank those who have been instrumental in my life...because without relationships, your best accomplishments will be unrewarding and unfulfilling."

He attributes his success to his strong religious faith and the support of his wife and family.

"My parents encouraged me to find a career that I was passionate about and pursue it and I have found my passion in the health profession because it enables me to help others," Mr. Bigham said.

As a summa cum laude graduate, Bigham earned a bachelor of science degree with a major in psychology and a minor in biology. Originally from Antioch, Calif., Mr. Bigham moved to Spangdahlem Air Base, with is wife, Pamela, in 2004. Like many other UMUC-Europe students, he faced the challenge of juggling his studies with other personal commitments including the frequent deployment of his wife a senior airman assigned to the 52nd Operations Support Squadron.

Prior to moving to Germany, Mr. Bigham obtained his paramedic license and employs emergency medical skills as a paramedic volunteer at the German Red Cross in Speicher. He attributes his ability to effectively communicate with Red Cross clients and other volunteers to the German language skills he acquired in UMUC courses.

"Because I am a people-person, I like to help others and I can't think of a better way to help than by saving someone's life," Mr. Bigham said.

In addition to volunteering with the German Red Cross, Mr. Bigham serves on the Student Advisory Council for UMUC-Europe and as a representative to the University Advisory Council in Adelphi. Previously, he volunteered at Flight Medicine, the community clinic.

During the student address to the class of 2007, Mr. Bigham said, "Never forget that your education is a means to better serve others...Don't be tempted to think that just because you received this degree, the challenge is over. You couldn't be more wrong. The challenge is just beginning. Give careful thought to how you can use this education to invest into the lives of people. You will never regret that investment."

In following his own advice, Mr. Bigham plans to attend medical school when he and his wife return to the states and aspires to become an emergency medical doctor.

The Bentley Memorial Award was established in 1983 and is presented each year in honor of Colonel William C. Bentley, the first student to earn a University of Maryland University College degree through study in Europe. In addition to being the European Division's first graduate, Col. Bentley played a key role in bringing UMUC to Europe. The award is presented annually to the UMUC-Europe baccalaureate graduate with the highest cumulative grade point average.