Spring Commencement Recognizes 2,236 Degree Candidates

Eastern Kentucky University honored 2,236 degree candidates at its annual spring commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 7.

Three ceremonies were held, each honoring degree candidates in one or two academic colleges. The honorees included 1,616 bachelor’s degree candidates, 486 master’s degree candidates, 124 associate degree candidates, eight specialist degree candidates, and two doctoral degree candidates.

The keynote speakers were Ralph Hacker, retired broadcasting executive and sports announcer; Chunbo Li, chairman and CEO of Zhejiang Medicine Corporation in China; and Dr. Bonnie Gray, retired director of EKU’s Honors Program. Hacker and Gray received honorary doctor of humanities degrees; Li received an honorary doctor of laws degree.

Recalling his own days as a student at EKU, Hacker acknowledged: “When we were here none of us realized all that could be accomplished by following our dreams and passions. I sense in this audience today future governors, U.S. senators and research scientists who will change the world, teachers who will change lives, and leaders that will shape the future. When the opportunity comes, grab it, and grab it for the right reason. Grab it because you are the right person for the job.”

Hacker also urged the College of Arts and Sciences graduates, as they benefit from opportunities in their own lives, to always “pay it forward. I believe life is about opportunities – the opportunities you get, and the opportunities you give. Don’t ever forget where you came from, and don’t forget to give back.”

Li told graduates in the Colleges of Business and Technology and Education: “If you want to make your life different, you will have to focus on an area and establish your goals. Once you establish your career goal, you will need to have perseverance in working toward achieving that goal. Today’s world is rather impetuous and full of temptations.

“Your persistence will finally win support,” Li added. “When you stay focused and keep on fighting, you will have infinite power no matter how high or how low you are. Please do not overestimate your short-run achievements, and also do not underestimate your long-run achievements. Your success will lie in your determination and perseverance. Make yourself a valuable person to society. Let your alma mater … be proud of you.”

Gray, who joined the EKU faculty in 1974 and directed the University’s nationally renowned Honors Program from its inception in 1988 until her retirement in 2008, told graduates in the Colleges of Health Sciences and Justice and Safety that “gumption” is an “extremely important quality” that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Defining gumption as “the internal strength of will which enables a person to take the required initiative to complete a fairly difficult and significant task,” Gray said the graduates can draw strength from their experiences at Eastern.

“May the amount of gumption you need to complete important professional and personal tasks … always be available in your inner tank,” Gray said. “Have confidence that the education you have received at Eastern Kentucky University will serve as the solid foundation for any amount of gumption that you will need.”

Speaking as representatives of their graduating class were Rachael Hamm, Oneida, Tenn.; Darren Zancan, Lowell, Ind.; and Ashlee Clegg, Columbus, Ohio.

Published on May 07, 2011