Fifty years ago, Louise Maull was about to graduate from college with a business education degree when a turning social tide changed the venue. "We were the only class to graduate offsite," she said about her 1968 graduation from Delaware State College. "Every other class has graduated on the campus except us."
Social unrest on campus resulted in moving the ceremony to what was then the new Dover High School on Walker Road. "People were upset because we wanted to graduate at the college," she said. On May 12, those 1968 graduates finally got the chance.
"They treated us like royalty," said Maull. "We were the first ones to walk out. Delaware State University made us feel extremely special."
Adding to the special occasion, Maull shared the stage that day with her granddaughter, Jordan Saez, who graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of science degree in elementary education. "It was nice for them to be recognized because what they did was special," Saez said.
Maull describes the 1968 demonstration as peaceful, not a riot the way some have characterized it. She said students were upset about a proposal to combine Delaware State College with the University of Delaware. There was also talk of renaming the Martin Luther King Jr. building and another building named after civil rights activist Medgar Evers. Some students eventually occupied an administrative building that housed the college president's office. At that point, then-Gov. Charles Terry Jr. called in the National Guard, and the campus was cleared, but in the end, none of the proposed changes happened.
During the unrest, however, Maull returned to her Lewes home. A phone call let her know that graduation would be held off campus.
Returning to her alma mater for graduation in 2018, Maull said she couldn't believe how the campus has grown. "Now you can get turned around because there are so many new buildings," she said.
She feels the same about her hometown, Lewes. "When I was young we knew everyone in the area. But today it looks totally different," she said. There are still a few homes that look the same as when she was young, she said, but many have completely changed.
The small, hometown feeling that she remembers as a child has also changed. Maull said she remembers how the resort town would clear out after Labor Day. "It would be like a ghost town," she said. When she was young, she would miss the crowds, but today she prefers less hustle and bustle.
In 1995, she moved to Overbrook Shores in Milton where she lives today. Now retired, she recalls her 35 years of teaching business classes and all the wonderful students she taught. She started student teaching at Middletown High School, and stayed for five years before taking a job at Laurel High School. She then worked a brief stint at Delmar High School before landing a job at Seaford High School where she stayed for 25 years before retiring.
She said she believes she prepared her business students well with typing and shorthand skills they could take into the workforce. Her students routinely earned awards in local and statewide competitions sponsored by the Business Professionals Association.
Saez said she hopes to follow in her grandmother's footsteps as a teacher.
Her focus is on a third-grade teaching position, an age, she said, she finds ideal. "I like it because they are too little to know anything too bad," she said.