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Friends for life

The graduates who participate in Pittsburg State University’s 111th spring commencement this week will celebrate that special event with 1,269 of their closest friends. One trio among the Class of 2015 stands out, however, because their friendship extends all the way back to pre-school and second grade.
Friends for life
Lifelong best friends Shannon Jesberg, Ellen Wieberg and Lenze Sudduth, will graduate on Friday.

The graduates who participate in Pittsburg State University’s 111th spring commencement this week will celebrate that special event with 1,269 of their closest friends. One trio among the Class of 2015 stands out, however, because their friendship extends all the way back to pre-school and second grade.

Shannon Jesberg, Lenzi Sudduth, and Ellen Wieberg, all from Spring Hill, Kan., have been best buddies almost as long as they can remember.

Sudduth and Wieberg met at Happy House pre-school when they were two.

“It was friendship at first sight,” Wieberg said.

Jesberg completed the trio when she met the others through rec sports.

“Braces, long pony tail, bad bangs,” Jesberg said of Sudduth.

“Glasses, long hair, bangs, karate star,” Sudduth responded about Jesberg, before all three dissolved into laughter during a group interview in the days before graduation.

All three prefer good-natured ribbing and joking to serious talk about their friendship, because “it can get a little emotional.”

“I’m so proud to be here with them,” Wieberg said of her friends during a moment of reflection.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve messed up and they’ve been there for me,” Sudduth said.

As the three contemplate heading in different directions in just days, they noted that their independent choices to come to Pitt State was itself a bit of serendipity. Each had applied to different universities and it looked as if they would be taking different paths right out of high school.

All three were offered scholarships through the PSU Honors College, however, and that, together with the strength of the academic programs they each were interested in, sealed the deal.

It was a decision that they all agree was the best they could have made.

Sudduth and Wieberg will graduate in a ceremony at 5:30 p.m. on Friday and Jesberg in a ceremony at 8 p.m. When their names are read, those cheering the loudest will be the other members of this lifelong trio.

After graduation, the three will embark on separate journeys. Sudduth, who graduates with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, will go to work at Overland Park Regional Hospital. Jesberg, who receives a bachelor’s degree in social work, has been accepted into a social work master’s degree program at UMKC. Wieberg, who graduates with a bachelor’s degree in communication, will spend the year ahead working on a communications fellowship focusing on leadership and diversity. She has been accepted into the media and public relations masters program at Leicester University in England and eventually hopes to have a career with a non-profit organization.

Although their paths are diverging, none of the three expect that to change the special friendship they have with each other.

“We stick together,” Jesberg said.

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