The Legacy of Lincoln Graduates Continues for One Family at 2018 Commencement

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Shane Fleming extends his family’s tradition of attending the first degree-granting HBCU

LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, Pa. – At Commencement on Sunday, the long line of Fleming family members who have graduated from Lincoln University will increase by one. Shane Fleming will be at least the seventh member of his family to graduate from the first degree-granting Historically Black College & University.

The Lincoln graduates in the family include his father, Wayne S. Fleming ’85, his grandmother Sylvia A. Waters ’83, his grandfather Paul E. Waters, Esq ’56, his uncle Charles Fleming ’80, his uncle Michael Fleming ’82, and his great uncle Wesley Johnson, Sr. ’47.

Shane Fleming, Class of  2018

And while there's a long history of Fleming family members matriculating to Lincoln, it almost wasn't that way for Shane. He started his college career as an electrical engineering major in Harrisburg at a branch campus of a large public university. While he found the classes rigorous, he struggled.

“I found myself overwhelmed and unsure how to identify and secure support for a very rigorous STEM major,” he said. “To be frank, I floundered and did not know how to get the encouragement I needed. In retrospect, sadly, I began to doubt my abilities and wonder whether I should remain in college.”

After Fleming applied to and was accepted at Lincoln University, he said he was able to transfer credits and then changed his major to environmental science. The difference in his academic performance was apparent immediately.

“My first semester, I earned a 3.7 GPA and made Dean’s List,” he said.

He excelled by seeking assistance from academic support offices, which provided study groups, peer counseling, and guided tutoring. He said he studied hard and made an effort to get to know the faculty in the sciences. Biology Professor David F. Royer said it was “a pleasure to have Shane in class” and described him as “mature and professional.” Royer said Fleming had a genuine interest in the material we covered, and his passion for the environment was evident.

“It is not so much an outward display of environmentalism, more a quiet but strong conviction that we need to take care of the environment,” Royer said. “He is very knowledgeable about the environment and its importance for living organisms, and he enjoys discussing environmental issues – during his years at Lincoln, we have had many interesting and enjoyable discussions.”

Fleming even began using his computer science skills as a student technician in the Information Technology Department on campus and later worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant for physics.

Joseph Tillman, a network engineer in Information Technology called Fleming “a real go getter.”

“This young man is proactive and very detailed oriented. He worked for this office for two years and in the second year he took the initiative to start an IT student worker handbook to assist in the training of new student workers.”

After graduation, Fleming plans to spend eight weeks in Cartagena, Colombia, conducting environmental research. The research will incorporate soil and water pollution monitoring of mineral and solid waste. He has applied to the Horace Mann Bond - Leslie Pinckney Hill Scholarship, which offers full tuition to select graduate and professional schools, and plans to begin a Master’s of Science degree in environmental pollution control at Penn State – Harrisburg. He wants to research water remediation in acid mine drainage.

Article and photos by Shelley Mix, Office of Communications and Public Relations