Spring Commencement Ceremonies Recognize 2,207 Degree Candidates

Graduate Michelle Smith receives flowers from 2011 graduate Joshua Pitcher

Eastern Kentucky University honored 2,207 degree candidates at its annual spring commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 5.

Three ceremonies were held, each honoring degree candidates in one or two academic colleges. The honorees included 1,643 bachelor’s degree candidates, 443 master’s degree candidates, 107 associate degree candidates, eight specialist degree candidates and six doctoral degree candidates.

The keynote speakers, respectively, were Dr. Brenda Miller, senior safety advisor to the director of Army safety, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center at Fort Rucker, Ala., and functional chief representative for Career Program-12 (safety and occupational health); Gen. David Rodriguez, commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command; and Dr. Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan.

Miller urged degree candidates in the College of Arts and Sciences to believe in and stay true to themselves, and never give up.

“You are leaving this morning with some basic knowledge and skills, but you are just beginning,” Miller said. “Build on the skills that you have acquired here at EKU. Our expectation is that you will continue to learn and grow and that you will become the next generation of great organizational leaders.

“When you enter the workforce, learn your organization,” Miller added. “Understand your role and how you can contribute. Communication skills are critical. You may only get one shot at delivering your message. Your success depends on your ability to communicate with others.”

In concluding, Miller urged the graduates to “be part of the solution and not the problem. Look for ways to give back.”

Rodriguez also urged degree candidates in the Colleges of Business and Technology and Education to find a way to serve. “Service to your nation is an individual choice, to be a part of something greater than yourself. Service to the nation is not limited to a position you hold, an office you occupy, or an organization in which you are a member. Service to the nation is a sense of belonging, an aspiration to help, a desire you make your community, town, state or country better.

“I can see the spark you have in your eyes,” Rodriguez continued. “If you let it, it will ignite a passion to go forth and do great things. To make the very most of your life and take advantage of the opportunities you have been given, you must rise to your responsibility, to give something back to America. As the years pass, your generation will be judged and you will begin to judge yourself on what you contribute to others, to your country, your communities, and your children.”

Coleman, a Richmond native who attended Model Laboratory School for a time, titled her remarks “The Power of One,” in honor of her grandfather, Albert Wilson, a 1928 Eastern graduate. She addressed degree candidates in the Colleges of Health Sciences and Justice & Safety.

“Your decision to attend EKU, and your determination to graduate, will resonate long after today’s hugs and applause,” she said. “A college education sets in motion ideas and careers that few can imagine on commencement day. It prepares you to be flexible, to think creatively and to contribute to the needs of our communities. And one day, your grandchildren will thank you.”

Coleman, whose father also graduated from Eastern, said: “I loved school and learning, and it was because my parents believed in education. Like my father and grandfather, all of us – as college graduates – are obligated to improve the world around us, encourage the discovery of new knowledge, and celebrate the achievements of the next generation. As of today, you are not only a graduate but also a role model.”

The University presented Miller and Rodriguez with honorary doctor of laws degrees and Coleman a honorary doctor of science degree.

Speaking as representatives of their graduating class were Sandra Carpenter, Chillicothe, Ohio; Amy Janowiecki, Florence; and Elizabeth Hagan, Midway.

Published on April 17, 2012