Dana Willman was in a class of her own at Heidelberg University Saturday afternoon.
Willman, band director for Seneca East Local School District, is Heidelberg's first recipient of a master of music education degree. Graduate commencement was Saturday afternoon in Seiberling Gymnasium, and more than 80 students completed master's degrees.
Willman has worked at Seneca East for 22 years and has had several positions in the music department, mostly in band for grades 5-12.
She said she teaches beginning band lessons and directs the fifth-grade, sixth-grade, junior high, marching, concert, pep and jazz bands.
Willman said she got a bachelor's of music in education degree from Heidelberg in 1989 and had been thinking it would be a good idea to get her master's degree for many reasons.
"It'd be good to get before I retire," she said.
Willman said she had been wanting a program close enough to make it convenient for her while she serves as a full-time teacher, mom and wife. She said she had been asking professors for years about when they were going to get the master's program developed.
"When they finally did, I was one of the first ones to jump on the wagon," she said.
Willman, who lives near Tiffin, said the program has two sessions of summer classes.
"They have crash courses, pretty much ... Some of my credits from outside classes transferred in, and then I took a fall class at Heidelberg during marching season," she said.
Willman, who officially is to complete her degree in the summer, said getting the master's degree was intense.
"The summers were so jam-packed, there was no time to waste. ... It was time, and (I) was just pushing and ready to do it," she said.
Willman expressed appreciation to Heidelberg for offering the program.
"I think it'll be valuable for the community ... Small classes made it very personable and enjoyable, so I didn't mind spending my summers there," she said.
Clinton Longenecker, Stranahan professor of leadership and organizational excellence at the University of Toledo's College of Business Administration, addressed the graduates. He said life can be challenging, fun, stressful, awesome, complicated, boring, trying, a journey or an adventure.
"Life is tough, but it's tougher if you're stupid," he said, quoting John Wayne.
Carrie Wcislek, who received a master of arts in education degree, addressed her classmates. She received an undergraduate degree at Heidelberg in 2000 and is an English teacher at Springfield High School.
Wcislek said her cohort classmates turned into a Thursday-night family.
"I will truly miss our Thursday nights together," she said.
Wcislek paid tribute to Ruth Wahlstrom, English professor, and Diane Armstrong, director of graduate studies in education. She said they had no idea they were having such an impact at the time.
"They were simply doing their jobs, but doing it well," she said.
Graduates who were given awards were Patrick Laube, Erin Perry, Brenda Babcock, Stephanie Miller, Amanda Rader, Kristine Armstrong-Badik, David Schoeff, Wcislek and Willman.