Fall 2016 College of Business & Technology, College of Education, and College of Science Convocation


THIS IS A TEST.
THIS IS A TEST.>>GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO
EASTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY’S FALL 2016 COMMENCEMENT
EXERCISES. TONIGHT, WE HONOR DEGREE
CANDIDATES IN THE COLLEGE OF BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY, THE
COLLEGE OF EDUCATION, AND THE COLLEGE OF SCIENCE. PLEASE RISE FOR THE PRESENTATION
OF THE NATIONAL COLORS. CHEYENNE JENNINGS WILL SING OUR
NATIONAL ANTHEM. THEN PLEASE REMAIN STANDING AS
CHEYENNE ALSO PERFORMS “MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME.” ¶ OH SAY, CAN YOU SEE
BY THE DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT ¶ ¶ WHAT SO PROUDLY WE HAILED ¶ ¶ AT THE TWILIGHT’S
LAST GLEAMING ¶ ¶ WHOSE BROAD STRIPES
AND BRIGHT STARS ¶ ¶ THRU THE PERILOUS FIGHT ¶ ¶ O’ER THE RAMPARTS WE WATCHED WERE SO GALLANTLY STREAMING ¶ ¶ AND THE ROCKET’S RED GLARE THE BOMBS BURSTING IN AIR ¶ ¶ GAVE PROOF THROUGH THE NIGHT THAT OUR FLAG WAS STILL THERE ¶ ¶ OH, SAY DOES THAT STAR-SPANGLED BANNER YET WAVE ¶ ¶ O’ER THE LAND OF THE FREE AND THE HOME OF THE BRAVE ¶ [ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ] ¶ THE SUN SHINES BRIGHT ON MY
OLD KENTUCKY HOME ¶ ¶ ‘TIS SUMMER, THE PEOPLE ARE
GAY ¶ ¶ THE CORN-TOP’S RIPE AND THE
MEADOW’S IN THE BLOOM ¶ ¶ WHILE THE BIRDS MAKE MUSIC ALL
THE DAY ¶ ¶ THE YOUNG FOLKS ROLL
ON THE LITTLE CABIN FLOOR ¶ ¶ ALL MERRY, ALL HAPPY
AND BRIGHT ¶ ¶ BY ‘N’ BY HARD TIMES
COMES A KNOCKING AT THE DOOR ¶ ¶ AND MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME, GOOD
NIGHT ¶ ¶ WEEP NO MORE MY LADY ¶ ¶ OH, WEEP NO MORE TODAY ¶ ¶ WE WILL SING ONE SONG
FOR MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME ¶ ¶ FOR MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME,
FAR AWAY ¶ [ APPLAUSE ]>>LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE
13th PRESIDENT OF EASTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY,
DR. MICHAEL T. BENSON. [ APPLAUSE ]>>THANK YOU VERY MUCH, AND
PLEASE BE SEATED. OUR THANKS AGAIN TO CHEYENNE FOR THAT BEAUTIFUL RENDITION OF THE
NATIONAL ANTHEM AND MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME.
JUST A PARENTHETICAL NOTE, CHEYENNE’S HUSBAND WAS DEPLOYED
TO KUWAIT YESTERDAY ON A NINE- NINE-MONTH TOUR, AND WE WISH OUR BEST TO CHEYENNE AND HER HUSBAND
HUSBAND. THANK YOU, CHEYENNE.
[ APPLAUSE ] PARENTS, FAMILIES AND FRIENDS,
MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF REGENTS, DISTINGUISHED GUESTS, FACULTY
AND STAFF, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US TONIGHT TO CELEBRATE WITH OUR FALL GRADUATES THIS MILESTONE IN THEIR LIVES.
TONIGHT WE WILL FORMALLY CONFER 11 ASSOCIATE DEGREES, 226
BACHELOR’S DEGREES, 90 MASTER’S DEGREES, 8 SPECIALIST DEGREES, AND 12 DOCTORAL DEGREES, FOR A
TOTAL OF 347 DEGREES. [ APPLAUSE ] TONIGHT’S GRADUATES INCLUDE MANY
WHO HAVE ACHIEVED ACADEMIC DISTINCTION.
WE’RE PROUD OF ALL THOSE WHO ARE GRADUATING WITH HONORS, BUT I
WANT TO RECOGNIZE AT THIS TIME THREE GROUPS IN PARTICULAR. IF YOU WOULD, KINDLY HOLD YOUR
APPLAUSE UNTIL ALL THREE GROUPS HAVE BEEN RECOGNIZED.
WOULD ALL THOSE WHO ARE GRADUATING THIS EVENING FROM OUR
NATIONALLY PROMINENT HONORS PROGRAM AS HONORS SCHOLARS
PLEASE STAND AND REMAIN STANDING. WOULD ALL THOSE WHO ARE
GRADUATING SUMMA CUM LAUDE WITH A 3.9 GPA OR HIGHER PLEASE STAND
AND REMAIN STANDING. NOW, WOULD ALL THOSE GRADUATES
WHO ARE MEMBERS OF EKU’S HIGHEST MULTI-DISCIPLINARY HONOR
SOCIETY, PHI KAPPA PHI, ALSO STAND. AND REMAIN STANDING.
PLEASE JOIN ME IN RECOGNIZING THESE OUTSTANDING SCHOLARS.
[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ] THROUGHOUT HER 142-YEAR HISTORY, EASTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY HAS
BEEN KNOWN AS A SCHOOL OF OPPORTUNITY, AND WE WILL ALWAYS
BE PROUD OF THIS DISTINCTION. I AM PARTICULARLY PLEASED TO
ACKNOWLEDGE THIS EVENING THE MANY FIRST-GENERATION COLLEGE
GRADUATES WHO ARE EARNING A DEGREE. THIS MEANS THAT NEITHER THEIR
PARENTS NOR ANYONE IN ANY EARLIER GENERATION WAS A COLLEGE
GRADUATE. WILL ALL THE CANDIDATES FOR
DEGREES WHO ARE THE FIRST GENERATION IN THEIR FAMILIES TO
EARN A COLLEGE DEGREE PLEASE STAND. [ APPLAUSE ] THANK YOU.
COMMENCEMENT IS ALSO THE TIME WE RECOGNIZE THE MANY OTHERS WHO
HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE SUCCESS OF THESE CANDIDATES WITH
RESOURCES, ENCOURAGEMENT, OCCASIONAL CAJOLING, LOVE, AND
UNDERSTANDING. NOW I ASK THE FOLLOWING TO STAND
AS YOU ARE PRESENTED, AND REMAIN STANDING SO THAT WE MAY WELCOME
AND HONOR YOU AS A GROUP. AGAIN, PLEASE HOLD YOUR APPLAUSE
UNTIL ALL HAVE BEEN RECOGNIZED. WILL THE PARENTS OF THE
CANDIDATES FOR GRADUATION PLEASE STAND. NEXT, WILL SPOUSES OF THE
CANDIDATES PLEASE STAND. WILL GRANDPARENTS OF THE
CANDIDATES PLEASE STAND. WILL CHILDREN AND OTHER FAMILY
MEMBERS OF THE CANDIDATES PLEASE STAND. AND FINALLY, WILL THE FACULTY
AND STAFF WHO HAVE INSTRUCTED AND SERVED THESE CANDIDATES
PLEASE STAND. DEGREE CANDIDATES, PLEASE JOIN
ME IN SHOWING YOUR APPRECIATION FOR THESE VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE
IN YOUR LIVES WITH A GENEROUS ROUND OF APPLAUSE. [ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ] THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
AT THIS TIME, I WOULD LIKE TO RECOGNIZE SOME SPECIAL
INDIVIDUALS HERE ON THE PLATFORM — MEMBERS OF THE BOARD
OF REGENTS WHO HAVE JOINED US THIS MORNING. WILL EACH REGENT PLEASE STAND
WHEN PRESENTED, AND REMAIN STANDING. ALAN LONG, VICE CHAIR OF THE
BOARD FROM RICHMOND. VASU VASUDENVAN, FROM FRANKFORT.
LEWIS DIAZ, FROM COVINGTON. RICHARD DAY, FACULTY REGENT FROM
RICHMOND. BRYAN MAKINEN, STAFF REGENT FROM
RICHMOND. AND COLLIN POTTER, STUDENT
REGENT FROM MT. STERLING. PLEASE JOIN ME IN GREETING THESE
MEMBERS OF OUR BOARD OF REGENTS AND EXPRESSING TO THEM OUR
APPRECIATION FOR THEIR DEDICATED SERVICE.
[ APPLAUSE ] DEAN TOM EREKSON WILL NOW
INTRODUCE OUR STUDENT SPEAKER FROM THE COLLEGE OF BUSINESS AND
TECHNOLOGY. DEAN EREKSON.>>THANK YOU, PRESIDENT BENSON.
AS AN ACADEMIC DEAN, I GET TO MEET A LOT OF INTERESTING AND
HIGH PERFORMING INDIVIDUALS, BOTH ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL,
INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OF EKU. TONIGHT, STUDENTS, YOU GET TO
HEAR FROM ONE OF YOUR PEERS WHO HAS ALREADY PROVEN TO BE BOTH. SPEAKING ON BEHALF OF THE
GRADUATING CLASS FOR THE COLLEGE OF BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY IS
J. TAYLOR DAVIS, FROM HEBRON, KENTUCKY.
HE IS GRADUATING WITH A DEGREE IN MARKETING.
TAYLOR IS HIGHLY REGARDED BY FACULTY AND KNOWN AS “AMONG THE
BEST I’VE SEEN” BY HIS PROFESSORS, WHICH BECAME
APPARENT WHEN HE WAS NAMED ONE OF THE TOP PRODUCERS IN
NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL’S COLLEGE PROGRAM. TAYLOR IS A SECOND-GENERATION
EKU STUDENT, AND DEMONSTRATES A TRUE COLONEL PASSION MOTIVATED
BY THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT AND SUCCESS OF HIS PARENTS, JIM
AND JAMIE DAVIS. MR. AND MRS. DAVIS ARE HERE WITH
US TONIGHT TO SHARE IN TAYLOR’S SPECIAL DAY, ALONG WITH HIS
GRANDMOTHER LINDA DAVIS, SISTER LINDSEY DAVIS, AND GIRLFRIEND
ALEXANDRA VESSELS. I KNOW YOU ARE PROUD OF TAYLOR ,
AS ARE WE. IT IS NOW MY PLEASURE AND
PRIVILEGE TO INTRODUCE THE STUDENT SPEAKER FOR THE COLLEGE OF BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY,
J. TAYLOR DAVIS. [ APPLAUSE ]>>THANK YOU, PRESIDENT BENSON
AND DEAN EREKSON, FOR YOUR KIND WORDS.
I WOULD LIKE TO WELCOME OUR GUESTS TO THIS CITY KNOWN FOR
ITS HISTORY, THIS CAMPUS, KNOWN FOR ITS BEAUTY, AND THIS
UNIVERSITY, KNOWN FOR ITS ALUMNI PRODUCTION IN THE STATE ECONOMY.
I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO THANK THE COLLEGE OF BUSINESS AND
TECHNOLOGY FOR THE OPPORTUNITY NOT ONLY TO SPEAK, BUT TO WALK
OUT OF HERE TODAY WITH AN ACCREDITED DEGREE THAT SETS ME
APART. LIKE OUR COMPETING PEERS IN THE
COMING WORKFORCE, WE WERE TRAINED BY INTELLIGENT
RESEARCHERS AND DECORATED ACADEMICS. HOWEVER, US COLONELS, WE WERE
CRITIQUED, QUESTIONED, CHALLENGED, BROKEN DOWN, BUILT
BACK UP, REFINED, AND SHARPENED BY EDUCATORS WITH REAL-WORLD,
ELITE BUSINESS EXPERIENCE. I HAD THE PRIVILEGE TO LEARN
FROM AND BE MENTORED BY PEOPLE LIKE:
PROFESSOR KIRBY EASTERLING, OVER TWO DECADES IN GLOBAL SUPPLY
CHAIN. DR. KAREN HOOD HOPKINS, OVER TWO
DECADES IN RADIO ADVERTISING. DR. LAURA BARTHEL, INTERNATIONAL
ACCOUNTING AND AUDIT. AND DR. PHIL BOUTIN, A DECADE
IN ADVERTISING AND MARKETING. SEE, IT’S ONE THING TO HAVE A
PROFESSOR CLICK THROUGH SOME SLIDES, ASSIGN SOME READING, AND
THEN TEST YOU ON YOUR MEMORIZATION OF A THEORY,
PROCESS, FRAMEWORK, OR STRATEGY. IT’S ANOTHER THING TO GO INTO A
CLASSROOM, LEARN THAT SAME THEORY, PROCESS, FRAMEWORK, OR
STRATEGY, AND THEN HAVE IT ILLUSTRATED IN A REAL-WORLD
APPLICATION BY PEOPLE WHO HAVE DONE IT, AND DONE IT AT AN ELITE
LEVEL. THIS SUMMER, I WAS FORTUNATE TO
BE ADMITTED INTO NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL’S COLLEGE PROGRAM, A TOP 10 INTERNSHIP IN THE NATION AND
NUMBER ONE IN FINANCIAL SERVICES.
I WAS EQUIPPED WITH WORLD-CLASS LANGUAGE AND SITUATIONAL
TRAINING, LICENSING IN LIFE, DISABILITY, LONG-TERM CARE, AND
ANNUITIES, AND AN UNMATCHED CULTURE OF MENTORSHIP FROM
SENIOR ADVISORS. I DECIDED WHEN I STARTED THAT I
WAS GOING TO TREAT THE INTERNSHIP LIKE A BUSINESS, AND
I’M SO THANKFUL I DID, BECAUSE NOW I HAVE ONE. I FINISHED THIS SUMMER IN THE
TOP 75 OF THOUSANDS OF STUDENTS NATIONWIDE, SOMETHING THAT NO
OTHER KENTUCKY INSTITUTION CAN SAY THEY’VE HAD A STUDENT DO
THIS YEAR. [ APPLAUSE ] EKU STORIES, ALONG WITH A FEW
PAPERS AROUND THE STATE, PUBLISHED ARTICLES, DETAILING
THE RANKING. AND MY GRANDMOTHER PROUDLY
HOARDS AS MANY COPIES AS SHE CAN GET HER HANDS ON.
AFTER THE ARTICLE, BUSINESS LEADERS REACHED OUT TO FACULTY
LIKE KATHY BARR, OUR EXTERNAL AFFAIRS COORDINATOR, AND TOM
MARTIN, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.
THEY VOICED THIS MOVEMENT OF EXCELLENCE FROM COLONELS IN THE
WORKPLACE, AND THEIR CURIOSITY AS TO WHERE IT COMES FROM.
I BELIEVE EVERY BIT OF IT GOES BACK TO THE KIND OF STUDENT THAT
COMES TO EKU. WE’RE WORKERS, WE’RE GRINDERS,
WE SHOW UP IN SHARP SUITS AND PRESSED SKIRTS, BUT WITH A LUNCH
PAIL, BLUE-COLLAR ATTITUDE, BECAUSE WHEN WE LEAVE HERE, THE
JOB TITLE MAY SAY ENTRY LEVEL, BUT WE CAN ASSURE YOU, THIS
ISN’T OUR FIRST GO AT WORK. WE DON’T ALL GET HERE THE SAME
WAY. SOME OF US COME TRADITIONALLY AS
18-YEAR-OLD, AIMLESS, NAÏVE FRESHMAN.
SOME OF US COME HERE NON-TRADITIONALLY, AS CAREER
CHANGERS, AS AMERICAN HEROES, AS MOTHERS, AS FATHERS.
AS CONTRASTING AS OUR BACKGROUNDS MAY BE, WE ALL
COMMONLY LEAVE HERE BETTER THAN WE CAME. AND JUST AS WE CAME BEING TOLD
WHAT COLLEGE WOULD BE LIKE, WE LEAVE HERE BEING TOLD WHAT THE
WORLD WILL BE LIKE — HOW FAR WE CAN GO, HOW MUCH WE CAN MAKE,
AND WHO WE ARE ALLOWED TO BE. WE’RE WARNED OF A FUTILE JOB
MARKET, FRAMED DEGREES HUNG IN VAIN, AND AN OVERWORKED,
UNDERPAID, CORPORATE LADDER TO NOWHERE.
I OFTEN WONDER WHAT HAPPENED TO THE AMERICA THAT CHOSE TO GO TO THE MOON, THE AMERICA THAT CHOSE
PIONEERED FEARLESSLY. WHEN DID WE BECOME A NATION
CONDITIONED TO THINK IN TERMS OF LIMITS, BARRIERS, AND CEILINGS?
IF ANY GENERATION WERE TO REVERSE THE TIDES OF PESSIMISM
AND SCALED POSSIBILITIES, IT SHALL BE THIS ONE.
NO OTHER GENERATION IN HISTORY HAS THE INFLUENCE OF
COMMUNICATION, THE POWER OF CREATIVITY, AND THE POTENTIAL OF MOBILITY TO IGNITE A REVERSAL OF
THE CONDITIONED IDEOLOGIES, THOUGH WHILE POSED TO OUR
BENEFIT, ACT ONLY TO OUR DETRIMENT.
WE MUST SEE PAST THE AGENDA OF THE CYNICS, ONLY FOCUSING ON
WHAT WE CAN DO, WHAT WE CAN CONTROL, AND WHAT WE CAN
CONTRIBUTE. AND IF WE ARE TO BE THE
GENERATION THAT DIVERTS FROM THIS DISEASE OF COMPLACENCY AND
PLAGUE OF VICTIMHOOD, WE MUST PIVOT OUR SAILS, SKIRTING THE
SAFE HARBOR, OF COMFORT AND STABILITY, IN SEARCH OF OUR
PLACE IN HISTORY. IN THIS HOUR OF CHOICE, WE MUST CHOOSE TO DREAM, TO STRIVE, AND
TO ACCOMPLISH BEYOND THE REALITIES OF THE SKEPTICS,
BLINDED BY THE BOUNDS OF RATIONAL LIMITS.
WE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT THOSE WHO FEAR TO DREAM TODAY WILL INEVITABLY BE LEFT TO DREAM OF
THE DREAMER’S REALITY TOMORROW. I WAS RAISED BY TWO
ENTREPRENEURIAL EKU ALUMS WHO ATTRIBUTE MUCH OF THEIR SUCCESS
AND FONDEST OF MEMORIES TO THEIR TIME HERE IN RICHMOND. JIM AND JAMIE DAVIS OF
NICHOLASVILLE, KENTUCKY, CAME TO EKU AND WENT ON TO BUILD A
SUCCESSFUL COMPANY TOGETHER. I GREW UP IN THAT COMPANY, AND
IT TAUGHT ME THREE THINGS — HOW TO LOOK PEOPLE IN THE EYE.
THE FREEDOM OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP. AND HOW TO GO TWO STEPS BEYOND
WHAT’S EXPECTED OF ME. MY FATHER WAS THE OUTSTANDING ALUMNUS OF 1993, AND HIS EXAMPLE
HAS TAUGHT ME THAT IF YOU USE YOUR GOD-GIVEN TALENTS, HAVE THE
HUMILITY TO IMPROVE, AND THE COURAGE TO DREAM, THE ONLY
LIMITS THAT WE MUST OVERCOME ARE THOSE THAT WE IMPOSE ON
OURSELVES. WHAT REALLY GIVES ME SUCH
FERVENT CONVICTION TO BE A SECOND-GENERATION COLONEL GOES
BACK TO THE MEANS BY WHICH MY FATHER CAME HERE, THE DREAM BY
WHICH I CAME HERE, AND THE PRINCIPLED INFLUENCE THAT FUELED
IT ALL — MY GRANDFATHER. YOU SEE, JAMES DAVIS GREW UP IN
THE TOBACCO FIELDS, AND HAD A 10TH GRADE EDUCATION.
WHEN HE LEFT THE ARMY, HE BEGAN WORKING AT SUBURBAN PROPANE,
DELIVERING AND SANDBLASTING TANKS IN BASEMENTS AND
CRAWLSPACES. BEFORE HE LEFT SUBURBAN PROPANE
TO HELP MY FATHER START HIS BUSINESS AND TAKE ON HIS
PROUDEST ROLE, BEING A PAPAW, HE WAS OFFERED A POSITION AS VICE
PRESIDENT OF SUBURBAN PROPANE. YOU MAY WELL ASK, HOW CAN A MAN WITH A 10TH GRADE EDUCATION BE
OFFERED A JOB AS THE VICE PRESIDENT OF SUCH A COMPANY?
THE TRUTHFUL ANSWER IS, WHEN IT WOULD HAVE BEEN EASY, JUST AS IT
IS TODAY, TO FEEL SORRY FOR HIMSELF, AND MAKE EXCUSES AS TO
WHAT RESOURCES HE LACKED, HE THRIVED BECAUSE HE WAS WILLING
TO GO TWO STEPS BEYOND WHAT WAS EXPECTED OF HIM.
THAT’S WHY THIS SCHOOL MEANS SO MUCH TO ME, WHY BEING A SECOND-GENERATION COLONEL
CARRIES SUCH PRIDE IN MY HEART. I’M HERE ON THIS STAGE AND SPEAKING TO YOU TODAY,
BECAUSE TWO GENERATIONS BACK, A MAN DECIDED THAT HE WAS GOING TO
GO TWO STEPS BEYOND WHAT WAS EXPECTED OF HIM, CREATING A
FUTURE THAT HE WOULD NEVER HAVE FOR HIMSELF, SO THAT HIS FAMILY
WOULD NEVER HAVE TO START WHERE HE STARTED, BUT INSTEAD START
WHERE HE FINISHED. THAT’S WHY I CAN’T UNDERSTAND
WHY THIS GENERATION IS SO CONTENT WITH SETTLING FOR
CONFORMITY TO THE DIMINUTIVE SPACE THAT THE WORLD TELLS US IS
OURS. WHY SO MANY DEFAULT TO FEELING
SORRY FOR THEMSELVES, WASTING TIME POINTING FINGERS AT
EVERYONE, BUT THE CAPABLE, TALENTED, AND SKILLED PERSON IN
THE MIRROR. MY GRANDFATHER WAS MY BEST
FRIEND, AND HE PASSED AWAY MY JUNIOR YEAR, OF CANCER.
THOUGH HE’S NOT HERE TODAY TO TAKE A PICTURE WITH MY DIPLOMA,
OR TO SEE HIS LEGACY ON STAGE, THE BEST OF HIM IS HERE, AND
IT’S CARRIED ON THROUGH ME. THE DARK TIME IN MY LIFE, AFTER
HE PASSED, THOUGH ROOTED IN DEATH, TAUGHT ME A LOT ABOUT
LIFE. I WAS RECENTLY ASKED AMONGST A
GROUP, “WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST FEAR?”
A FEW ANSWERS INVOLVED “DISAPPOINTING PARENTS, FAILING IN BUSINESS, CUMULATIVE EXAMS,”
YOU KNOW THE TYPICAL STUFF. THE IMMEDIATE THING THAT CAME TO
MIND FOR ME WAS, “MY GREATEST FEAR IS TO DIE IN OBSCURITY,” ESSENTIALLY, TO LEAVE THIS WORLD
WITHOUT THE FULL BREADTH OF MY CALLING BEING EXHAUSTED ALONG
THE LINES OF EXCELLENCE. SOME MAY WONDER WHAT A
22-YEAR-OLD HAS BUSINESS DOING FEARING A LACK OF TIME, OF ALL
THINGS. THE TRUTH IS, AFTER WATCHING MY
LAUGHING, LOVING, THRIVING GRANDFATHER, DIAGNOSED AND GONE
IN THREE MONTHS, I DEVELOPED AN INTERNAL CLOCK, A CLOCK THAT CONSTANTLY TICKS IN THE BACK OF
MY MIND, REMINDING ME THAT MY TIME IS LIMITED, AND MY DAYS TO
EXHAUST MY CALLING ALONG THE LINES OF EXCELLENCE ARE
NUMBERED. THOUGH SOME MAY FIND THAT EXTREME, I FIND IT TO BE THE
ONLY WAY TO TRULY LIVE. WHEN I FIRST CAME TO EKU, I
LIVED IN MARTIN HALL. MAY GOD REST ITS SOUL, BUT THAT
POOR DORM HOUSED SOME ROWDY CHARACTERS, AND WENT DOWN WITH
SOME TALES THAT YOU WOULDN’T BELIEVE.
IT’S SINCE BEEN DEMOLISHED TO MAKE ROOM FOR MUCH-NEEDED UPGRADES, PROBABLY TOOK DOWN
SOME EVIDENCE WITH IT, BUT NONETHELESS, THE MEMORIES LIVE
ON. SEE, COMING TO COLLEGE, I
THOUGHT IT WOULD BE THIS FUN EXPERIENCE, AND IT HAS BEEN.
I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE A TIME OF GROWTH, AND IT HAS BEEN.
BUT WHAT I DIDN’T REALIZE WHEN I ARRIVED AT EASTERN KENTUCKY
UNIVERSITY WAS THAT EVERY DAY, I WOULD GROW.
MANY STRANGERS WOULD BECOME MY BEST FRIENDS.
EVERY NIGHT DOWNTOWN WOULD BECOME A MEMORY.
AND ALL OF IT TOGETHER WOULD BECOME A STORY. LOOKING BACK AT MY TIME HERE,
THE THOUGHT OF TURNING MY TASSEL, ALONG WITH THE MANY
FACES OF THE MANY FRIENDS THAT I HAVE MADE, I REALIZE THAT IT
WASN’T SEMESTERS OF ANYTHING. IT WASN’T YEARS OF ANYTHING. IT BECAME A MOMENT OF
EVERYTHING, A MOMENT THAT CAME AND WENT SO FAST THAT I CAN ONLY
ADVISE FUTURE COLONELS: DON’T BLINK. EVERY EMOTION, EVERY ADVERSITY,
EVERY SUCCESS, EVERY FALL, EVERY BACK TO THE WALL, ALL OR
NOTHING, GO BIG OR BUST EXPERIENCE, WRAPPED UP INTO ONE,
IT PASSED BY SO FAST I FEEL LIKE JUST YESTERDAY I WAS
SWIPING MY MEAL CARD, ATTACHED TO MY ORIENTATION LANYARD, OF
COURSE… FRESHMAN.
USING THE CAMPUS MAP ON MY PHONE, WALKING IN WRONG DOORS,
MISPRONOUNCING PROFESSORS’ NAMES, AND STACKING UP ENOUGH
PARKING TICKETS TO PROP UP THE WOBBLY END OF MY TV STAND, WHICH
I REALLY DID. LOOKING BACK AT THAT KID THAT WE
ALL WERE WHEN WE ARRIVED, AND NOW, FACING THIS BRIGHT-EYED, CONFIDENT, SPIRITED GROUP, I
THINK WE ALL REALIZE THAT, THIS ISN’T JUST A COLLEGE.
THIS ISN’T JUST A CAMPUS. THIS IS THE LITTLE SOUTHERN
COLLEGE TOWN WHERE BIG THINGS HAPPEN.
THANK YOU. [ APPLAUSE ]>>THANK YOU, TAYLOR.
DEAN SHERRY POWERS WILL NOW INTRODUCE OUR STUDENT SPEAKER
FROM THE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION.>>THANK YOU, DR. VICE. IT IS MY PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE
THE SPEAKER FROM THE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION, MS. ALEXANDRIA
HARRIS. SHE’S FROM NICHOLASVILLE,
KENTUCKY. SHE HAS EARNED A BACHELOR OF
SCIENCE IN MIDDLE GRADES EDUCATION, WITH CONCENTRATIONS
IN SCIENCE AND LANGUAGE ARTS. ALEXANDRIA HAS BEEN PART OF THE
NASA S.T.E.M. FELLOWS PROGRAM. SHE HAS PROVIDED LEADERSHIP IN
THE EASTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS WHICH SERVES PRE-SCHOOL THROUGH
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS. MS. HARRIS PARTICIPATED IN THE
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICE LEARNING PROGRAM IN BELIZE.
SHE’S BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN DESIGNING A FUNDRAISING PROGRAM TO SUPPORT SATURDAY
MORNING SCIENCE. THIS PROGRAM OFFERS SCIENCE
ENGAGEMENT, LEARNING, AND SUPPORT FOR ELEMENTARY STUDENTS.
IT IS MY PLEASURE TO PRESENT TO YOU MS. ALEXANDRIA HARRIS.
[ APPLAUSE ]>>WOW.
YOU GUYS LOOK FANTASTIC! ABSOLUTELY.
I WOULD LIKE TO BEGIN BY SAYING A RESOUNDING AND AWE-FILLED ”
“THANK YOU.” THANK YOU TO THE FACULTY.
THANK YOU FOR DEALING WITH OUR LATE WORK EXCUSES, AND THE UN
UNBELIEVABLE ONES, HONESTLY. YOU’VE HELPED US THROUGH THIS,
AND YOU’VE GIVEN THIS JOURNEY MEANING.
I WOULD LIKE TO EXPRESS MY GRATITUDE TO THE FAMILY MEMBERS
IN THE AUDIENCE. THANK YOU FOR THE HOME-COOKED
MEALS AND LEFT-OVERS. MOST IMPORTANTLY, THANK YOU FOR
THE UNWAVERING SUPPORT. I ALSO WANT TO RECOGNIZE ALL OF
THE FRIENDS IN THE CROWD, AND IN THANK YOU FOR THE SLEEPLESS
NIGHTS OF LAUGHTER, FOR MAKING STUDY SESSIONS WORTH IT, AND FOR THE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT AFTER AN
EXAM WE STUDIED FOR. FINALLY, I NEED TO CONVEY MY
HEART-FELT GRATITUDE TO MY FELLOW GRADUATES.
I APPRECIATE ALL OF YOUR SACRIFICES, BECAUSE, TRUST ME, I KNOW THAT THEY WERE GREAT.
I WILL ALWAYS BE GRATEFUL FOR THE COMMUNITY AND FRIENDSHIP
THAT YOU’VE GIVEN ME AND THE REST OF YOUR CLASSMATES.
NOW, THIS IS THE MOMENT WHERE I SAY THAT WE DID IT, AND WE ALL
GROW A NO, SIR NOSTALGIC SMIRK ON OUR
FACES BUT IN TRUTH, WE HAVEN’T DONE IT.
WE’VE NOT ACCOMPLISHED SOMETHING SOMETHING, AND THEN WE MERELY
STAND IDLE. WE NOW BEGIN OUR JOURNEYS, AND
THIS IS A FOUNDATION FROM WHICH WE RISE.
WHEN I WAS IN THIRD GRADE, I REALIZED MY EDUCATION HAD A
DESTINATION. IT TOOK ALL OF 45 SECONDS TO
REALIZE TEACHING WOULD BE THAT DESTINATION.
FROM THAT POINT ON, I’VE BEEN CREATING MY REALITY.
I USED TO BE QUITE SHY AND SOFT- SOFT-SPOKEN.
BUT EKU HAD A HUGE ROLE IN MOLDING ME INTO A CONFIDENT
EDUCATOR. THOUGH I’VE I’VE FOUND MY GOAL
WAS NEVER AN ENDING BUT A CHECK POINT IN LIFE.
BECAUSE OF EKU I FEEL PREPARED TO LEAVE AND FULFILL MY THIRD
GRADE DREAM OF BECOMING A TEACHER.
UNFORTUNATELY, SOME OF MY OTHER THIRD GRADE GOALS SUCH AS NO
HOMEWORK, NAPS, AND CHOCOLATE CAKE EVERY DAY HAVE SADLY, FOR
ME AND MY STUDENTS, BEEN LEFT BEHIND.
I CHOSE TO CONTINUE MY JOURNEY TO BECOME A TEACHER AT EKU
SIMPLY BECAUSE OF THE EDUCATION PROGRAMS
PROGRAM’S EXCEPTIONAL REPUTATION REPUTATION.
IN ADDITION TO AN EXCELLENT EDUCATION, THIS UNIVERSITY HAS
GIVEN ME SO MUCH MORE. MY EXPERIENCE AT EKU HAS BEEN
EXACTLY WHAT THOSE ’90s COLLEGIATE MOVIES LED ME TO
BELIEVE. I MET A GROUP OF PEOPLE, AND
SHARED A MULTITUDE OF QUIRKY AND FROM SMALL SMILES IN THE
HALLWAYS TO ZOMBIE NERF GUN FIGHTS, AND A MASS CONSCIOUSNESS ON THE YIKYAK.
I HAVE NEVER FELT MORE AT HOME THAN I HAVE DURING MY TIME HERE
AT EKU. I’M NOT QUITE SURE HOW TO
SUMMARIZE THE FRIENDSHIPS AND SUPPORTIVE FOUND IN MY FELLOW
EDUCATORS. UBUNTU IS AN AFRICAN SAYING THAT MEANS “I AM BECAUSE WE ARE.”
AN ANTHROPOLOGIST ONCE PLACED A BASKET OF FRUIT BENEATH A TREE
AND TOLD A GROUP OF CHILDREN THAT WHOMEVER REACHED IT FIRST
COULD HAVE IT ALL. THE CHILDREN ALL LINKED ARMS AND CHARGED AFTER THE BASKET
TOGETHER. THEY ALL REACHED THE BASKET AT
THE SAME TIME, AND SHARED. THE ANTHROPOLOGIST, CONFUSED,
ASKED THEM, WHY DID THEY NOT RACE EACH OTHER AND COMPETE
AGAINST EACH OTHER? THEY TOLD HIM ABOUT UBUNTU AND
HOW WE’RE ALL CONNECTED TOGETHER TOGETHER.
REMEMBER, “I AM BECAUSE WE ARE.” INSTEAD OF SEEING ONE ANOTHER AS COMPETITION, WE SHOULD GROW
TOGETHER AND ASPIREING TOWARDS OUR NEXT CHECKPOINT, AND
EVENTUALLY, CHANGING THE WORLD. THE FRIENDS I’VE MADE IN MY
CLASSES WHILE ON MY TRIP TO BELI BELIZE AND WORKING AT MAYWOODS
ARE SOME OF THE CLOSEST I’VE EVER FOUND.
ALTHOUGH WE MAINLY SPENT OUR TIME DEBATING STANDARDIZEED
TESTING, AND TALKING ABOUT OUR PLANS FOR DECORATING OUR
CLASSROOMS, AS IF WE WERE PLANNING OUR WEDDINGS, I NEVER
KNEW THAT I COULD FEEL SO AT HOME, AND THAT THERE WERE PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO COULD INSPIRE ME
SO MUCH. I KNOW THIS IS THE SAME IN ALL
MAJORS. BY FOLLOWING OUR PASSION AND
COMMITTING TO OUR CHOSEN FIELD OF STUDY, WE’VE ALL FOUND A
SUPPORTED GROUP OF LIKE-MINDED INDIVIDUALS.
EKU HAS BROUGHT US TOGETHER, BUT BONDED US TOGETHER.
LEARNING AT EACH OTHER AND FINDING FRIENDSHIP IN THE SPACE
BETWEEN OUR CULTURES, OUR AGES, RELIGIONS, INTERESTS, AND OUR
GENDERS IS POSSIBLY THE GREATEST THOUGH WE’RE ALL SEE THE WORLD
FROM OUR OWN VANTAGE POINT WE’RE
STILL ON THE SAME MOUNTAIN, WORKING OUR WAY TO THE TOP, ONE
MOVEMENT AT A TIME. TODAY IS THE DAY WE’VE BEEN
WAITING FOR, BUT THIS IS NOT WHERE WE STOP.
INSTEAD, IT IS THE POINT IN WHICH WE FLY FROM, WE RISE FROM.
THE MEMORIES WE MADE AT EKU WILL A REMINDER THAT WE ARE CAPABLE
OF ANYTHING. IN CLOSING, I WANT TO THANK
EASTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY FOR ALLOWING ME TO ADDRESS YOU GUYS, AND EVERYBODY HEAR, THE CLASS OF
— EKU’S EKU’S CLASS OF 2016, AT
SUCH A MILE STEEN IN OUR LIVES. REMEMBER TO LOOK TO THE CHECK
POINTS IN YOUR LIFE AND FULFILL THE OPPORTUNITIES GIVEN TO YOU
BY WORKING WITH THOSE AROUND YOU TO THE CLASS OF 2016,
CONGRATULATIONS, AND GOOD LUCK! [ APPLAUSE ]>>THANK YOU, ALEXANDRIA.
DEAN TOM OTIENO WILL NOW INTRODUCE OUR STUDENT SPEAKER
FROM THE COLLEGE OF SCIENCE.>>THANK YOU, PROVOST VICE.
>>EACH SEMESTER, A MEMBER OF THE GRADUATING CLASS FROM THE
COLLEGE OF SCIENCE IS SELECTED FOR THE HONOR OF PRESENTING A
STUDENT COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS. THIS EVENING, THAT HONOR BELONGS
TO RANIESHA WASSMAN OF CINCINNATI, OHIO, WHO’S
GRADUATING WITH A BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN FORENSIC SCIENCE, WITH
A CONCENTRATION IN FORENSIC CHEMISTRY AND A MINOR IN
CHEMISTRY. SHARING IN RANIESHA’S SPECIAL DAY HERE TODAY ARE —
HER MOTHER, LASHAWNDA COFIELD. HER GRANDMOTHER, JACQUELINE
COFIELD. HER AUNT, DOROTHY SMITH. HER SISTER, SHAILA WASSMAN.
AND A NUMBER OF MEMBERS OF RANIESHA’S FAMILY AND HER CLOSE
FRIENDS. WE KNOW THEY ARE PROUD OF
RANIESHA, AS ARE WE. IT IS MY PLEASURE AND PRIVILEGE
NOW TO INTRODUCE THE STUDENT SPEAKER FOR THE COLLEGE OF
SCIENCE, RANIESHA NECOLE WASSMAN. [ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]>>GOOD EVENING, PRESIDENT
BENSON, MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF REGENTS, DISTINGUISHED GUESTS,
FACULTY AND STAFF, FAMILY AND FRIENDS, AND MY FELLOW
GRADUATES. I AM THANKFUL TO STAND BEFORE
YOU TODAY AND REPRESENT THE GRADUATING CLASS OF 2016, AND TO
WELCOME YOU TO THE FIRST COMMENCEMENT CEREMONY FOR THE
EASTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF SCIENCE. TODAY, WE BECOME ONE.
IF YOU HAVE NEVER BELIEVED IN THE POWER OF MAROON BEFORE
TODAY, I ASSURE YOU THAT IT IS ALIVE, AND IS DOING QUITE WELL. TODAY STUDENTS FROM ACROSS THIS
GREAT GLOBE, FROM EVERY WALK OF LIFE, AND FROM ALL NATIONALITIES
AND BACKGROUNDS, ARE REPRESENTED AND STAND TO RECEIVE THE DEGREE
FOR WHICH WE HAVE ALL WORKED SO TIRELESSLY.
WE HAVE COME A LONG WAY. IN MY SHORT TIME OF BEING A
COLONEL, I WITNESSED BUILDINGS GO DOWN, WALLS REPAINTED, AND
BUILDINGS GO UP. I WATCHED PRESIDENT DOUG
WHITLOCK SHAKE HANDS WITH FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA, AND I HAVE
SEEN THE VISION OF PRESIDENT BENSON. WE CALL IT THE BENSON EXTENSION. THIS PLAN IS RENEWING OUR CAMPUS
WITH NEW DINING FACILITIES, LIVELY RESIDENCE HALLS , AND, IN
DUE TIME, EXTENDING CAMPUS FAR BEYOND OUR SCOPE. STILL, NO MATTER WHAT OUR CAMPUS
LOOKS LIKE, IT WILL ALWAYS BE OUR CAMPUS BEAUTIFUL, AND I WILL
FOREVER CALL IT HOME. I SWELL WITH EXCITEMENT AS I
SPEAK ABOUT THIS HUGE MILESTONE IN OUR LIVES — GRADUATION.
MANY OF US ARE THE FIRST GENERATION WITHIN OUR FAMILIES
TO EARN A COLLEGE DEGREE. OTHERS OF YOU ARE CARRYING ON A
FAMILY LEGACY. NO MATTER THE TRAIL TAKEN TO GET
HERE, WE COME TOGETHER, UNITED AT THIS MILESTONE AS ONE.
TODAY, PRESIDENT BENSON WILL CONFER HUNDREDS OF DEGREES AND
SEND US OUT INTO THE WORLD AS BRIGHT, YOUNG, EDUCATED, AND
GIFTED LEARNERS. BUT FOR JUST A MOMENT, LET US
SAVOR THE JOURNEY WE HAVE TAKEN TO GET HERE.
IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, EKU PIQUED OUR INTEREST, AND THAT
STUCK WITH US LIKE GLUE AND MADE EASTERN OUR NEW HOME.
I REPRESENT OUR MANY OUT-OF-STATE STUDENTS, AS I HAIL
FROM THE QUEEN CITY OF CINCINNATI, OHIO.
I CAME TO EASTERN SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE I WAS ATTRACTED TO ITS
NATIONALLY PROMINENT FORENSIC SCIENCE PROGRAM.
AS A FIRST-GENERATION STUDENT, THE TRANSITION FROM HIGH SCHOOL TO A NATIONALLY RANKED STEM
PROGRAM CAME WITH MUCH ADVERSITY AND MANY SETBACKS, BUT I WAS
REMINDED BY ONE OF THE MOST PROLIFIC MINDS OF THE 20TH
CENTURY, MALCOLM X, WHO ONCE SAID —
“THERE IS NO BETTER THAN ADVERSITY.
EVERY DEFEAT, EVERY HEARTBREAK, EVERY LOSS, CONTAINS ITS OWN
SEED, ITS OWN LESSON ON HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR PERFORMANCE THE
NEXT TIME.” HIS WORDS RESONATE WITH ME, AS
THEY WOULD MOST STUDENTS IN COLLEGE, BECAUSE YOU PERSEVERE
THROUGH THIS DEFEAT. WHETHER IT IS ACADEMIC,
PERSONAL, FRIENDSHIPS, HEARTBREAK OR LOSS, YOU CONTINUE
TO STAND WITHOUT WAVERING. THAT IS SOMETHING I THINK WE
HAVE ALL DONE. WITHIN THIS ADVERSITY LIES A
THANK YOU TO MY CLASSMATES. FROM GENERAL EDUCATION COURSES
TO UPPER-LEVEL CHEMISTRY COURSES.
WE CARRIED THE LOAD TOGETHER. A SPECIAL THANKS MUST GO TO ONE
OF MY CONFIDANTS, PROFESSOR AND CHAIR OF THE CHEMISTRY
DEPARTMENT DR. DARRIN SMITH. LIKE MANY PROFESSORS HERE, HE IS
PASSIONATE ABOUT CULTIVATING AN ENVIRONMENT CONDUCIVE TO
LEARNING, EVEN IF, WE MUST ADMIT, THE SUBJECT MATTER IS
SOMETIMES DRY. SOMEHOW, HE FOUND A WAY TO DRIVE
HIS POINTS HOME, AND PAINTED THE PICTURE I NEEDED TO UNDERSTAND.
THANK YOU, DR. SMITH. LIKE DR. SMITH’S EXAMPLE, MOST
STUDENTS FEEL AT HOME AT EASTERN BECAUSE OF THE UNIQUE SUPPORT
FROM THE FACULTY, STAFF, AND ADMINISTRATION. THROUGHOUT MY UNDERGRADUATE
CAREER, I UNDERSTOOD THE VALUE OF UTILIZING DIFFERENT SUPPORT
SYSTEMS ON CAMPUS. STUDENTS COME TO EASTERN TO GET
AN EDUCATION, BUT IF THEY ARE WILLING TO GO AN EXTRA MILE AND
GET INVOLVED, THEY WALK AWAY WITH AN EXPERIENCE. I FIRST FOUND MY PLACE BY
JOINING THE DISTINCTIVE ZETA PHI BETA SORORITY.
THERE WAS A CERTAIN LEVEL OF COMFORT SEEING THE IMPACT I HAD ON OTHER STUDENTS THROUGH THE
MULTIPLE ROLES I WAS ABLE TO HOLD WITHIN THIS ORGANIZATION.
THE SUPPORT I RECEIVED FROM BOTH ZETA PHI BETA AND FROM OUR
FRATERNITY BROTHERS OF PHI BETA SIGMA WAS SECOND TO NONE.
THEIR SUPPORT LIFTED ME AND KEPT ME UP WHEN I FELT LOW, AND HAS
KEPT ME MOVING FORWARD WHEN I WAS READY TO CALL IT QUITS. THIS OPPORTUNITY IN LEADERSHIP
ALLOWED ME TO TRAVEL THE COUNTRY AND DEVELOP AS A LEADER WHILE
SERVING OTHERS. IT GAVE ME THE STRENGTH TO SEEK
OTHER ROLES ON CAMPUS, INCLUDING THAT OF A RESIDENT ASSISTANT.
THROUGH THIS IMPORTANT ROLE, I ADVOCATED FOR DIVERSITY WHILE
ENSURING THE INCLUSION OF EVERY STUDENT I MET.
AS I BECAME MORE INVOLVED ON CAMPUS, I HAD TO JUGGLE MY
ACADEMIC AND EXTRA-CURRICULAR LIVES.
THE PATH TO BECOMING A FORENSIC SCIENTIST BECAME FOGGIER SEEING
THAT I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED AND WAS INVESTED IN HELPING COLLEGE
STUDENTS. THE ANSWER TO MY SELF-DOUBT CAME
IN MY LAST TWO YEARS AT EASTERN. AS AN UPPERCLASSMAN, MY DAILY
TASKS INCLUDED TAKING UPPER-LEVEL CHEMISTRY CLASSES
WHILE HELPING STUDENTS SEE THAT WE ARE FAR MORE ALIKE THAN WE
ARE DIFFERENT. I MUST ADMIT THAT SOME OF MY
MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS WERE TAUGHT OUTSIDE OF THE LECTURE.
ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN I’VE MET IS SHANTE HEARST,
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF STUDENT LIFE, WHO IS GRACEFUL, POSSESSED
TALL CHARACTER, AND IS SO GENUINE.
SHE HAS BEEN ONE OF MY BIGGEST SUPPORTERS.
THROUGH HER PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE AND RESOURCES, SHANTE
HELPED ME SECURE NUMEROUS OPPORTUNITIES RELATED TO CAMPUS
INVOLVEMENT, BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, MY TRANSITION FROM
AN UNDERGRADUATE TO GRADUATE SCHOOL.
FOR THAT, I THANK YOU, SHANTE. FOR MY MOTHER AND MY GRANDMOTHER
IN THE CROWD, I AM FOREVER INDEBTED TO YOU FOR PLACING SUCH
AN EMPHASIS ON AN EDUCATION. YOU PUSHED ME TO NEVER SETTLE.
WHEN I THOUGHT A HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION WAS ENOUGH, YOU
PUSHED ME TO FOLLOW MY DREAMS AND TO KEEP GOING.
LIKE MANY PARENTS IN THE AUDIENCE, YOU ARE STRONG BEYOND
BELIEF, AND YOU HAVE MADE THE DIFFERENCE.
YOU ALWAYS TOLD ME TO BE BETTER THAN THE ENVIRONMENT AND
CONDITIONS I WAS RAISED IN, AND WITHOUT YOU BOTH, I AM CERTAIN
THAT I WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO PRESENT THIS SPEECH WITH SUCH
GRATITUDE. WHILE FORENSIC SCIENCE HAS A
SPECIAL PLACE IN MY HEART, MY INVOLVEMENT AT EASTERN ALLOWED
ME TO GROW AND FIND PERSONAL HAPPINESS IN HELPING STUDENTS,
SPECIFICALLY, THOSE FROM UNDERREPRESENTED POPULATIONS AND
FIRST-GENERATION COLLEGE STUDENTS LIKE MYSELF. THIS APPRECIATION HELPED ME
UNDERSTAND THAT I WANT TO PURSUE STUDENT AFFAIRS PROFESSIONALLY.
THIS WOULD ENABLE ME TO FOSTER SUCCESS AND BUILD LEADERS IN THE
NEXT GENERATION, SOMETHING THAT TO ME IS GREATER THAN ANY DOLLAR
AMOUNT THAT I COULD MAKE WITH SCIENCE.
THROUGHOUT MY JOURNEY, I ADVOCATED PASSING THE TORCH AND
LEAVING YOUR LEGACY IN WHATEVER ENDEAVOR YOU CHOOSE TO PURSUE,
AND I HOPE MY FELLOW CLASSMATES WILL CONSIDER THIS IDEAL AND DO
THE SAME. MAKE AN INVESTMENT IN YOUR
COMMUNITY, IN THE PEOPLE TO WHOM YOU ARE CLOSEST, AND IN YOUR
CAREER. WHATEVER YOU CHOOSE TO DO, BRAND
IT, AND IMPACT THOSE AROUND YOU. SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE TEND TO BE
THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN BRAVE ENOUGH TO LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST,
DARING TO CHALLENGE THE NEXT GENERATION TO BE BETTER THAN YOU
WERE, TO TURN NEW LEAVES, AND TO THINK CRITICALLY ABOUT THE
DECISIONS THAT YOU MAKE. A MASTERMIND IS ACTUALLY SOMEONE
WHO IS KIND TO EVERYONE AND WHO CAN THINK AHEAD WITHOUT BIAS. I DARE TO VENTURE AND POSE THE
QUESTION — WHAT’S NEXT?
FOR THOSE OF US GRADUATING, I ASK —
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ENSURE THE CONTINUAL EXCELLENCE AND GROWTH
OF THIS GREAT INSTITUTION? HOW WILL WE TAKE WHAT EASTERN
HAS PROVIDED FOR US THE PAST FEW YEARS TO KEEP THE UNIVERSITY’S
FLAME LIT? WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO TO
NURTURE AND FOSTER THE NEXT PERSON’S GROWTH? SOMEONE ONCE TOLD ME, “DON’T
JUST MAKE A DIFFERENCE… BE THE DIFFERENCE, ” AND THAT, WE HAVE
DONE. AS MY FELLOW GRADUATES AND
COLONELS STAND BEFORE ME, I ASK THAT YOU STAND FIRM WITH NO
FEAR, AND MAKE THE BEST OF ANY SHORTCOMINGS. AT MANY TIMES WE FEAR FAILURE
AND ONLY EMBRACE THE GOOD, BUT IN REALITY, YOU SHOULD EMBRACE
ALL THAT COMES YOUR WAY AND TAKE IT AS A LEARNING LESSON.
AT TIMES WHEN IT’S HARD TO BE OPTIMISTIC, FALL BACK ON YOUR
CORE AND WHAT KEEPS YOU GOING. FOR ME, IT’S SIMPLY HELPING THE
PERSON NEXT TO ME. FIND WHAT HAS KEPT YOU GOING,
WHAT HAS KEPT YOU MOTIVATED, AND WHAT HAS KEPT YOU STEADFAST. I WANT TO CLOSE WITH ONE OF MY
FAVORITE QUOTES — “START WHERE YOU ARE, USE WHAT
YOU HAVE, AND DO WHAT YOU CAN.” WE STARTED AT EASTERN, UTILIZED
THIS CAMPUS FOR ITS WORTH AND WORKED AT THE HIGHEST CAPACITY
BOTH ACADEMICALLY AND SOCIALLY. WE ALL HAVE A PURPOSE, AND
WHETHER IT IS KNOWN OR NOT IS NOT AN ISSUE.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT IS WHERE YOU WILL GO BASED UPON THE STEP
LADDER THAT EKU HAS PROVIDED TO ENSURE YOUR SUCCESS. ALWAYS DO WHAT YOU CAN, AND IT
WILL ALWAYS TRIUMPH OVER NOT TRYING AT ALL.
THE FOUNDATION IS BUILT, AND WE MADE IT.
CONGRATULATIONS, CLASS OF 2016, AND GO COLONELS!
[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]>>THANK YOU, RANIESHA.
WE HAVE HEARD THREE EXCELLENT STUDENT PRESENTATIONS.
YOU CAN SEE WHY WE’RE SO PROUD OF OUR EKU GRADUATES AND THE
BREADTH AND THE DEPTH OF THEIR EXPERIENCE WHILE THEY’VE BEEN
HERE, LET’S GIVE TAYLOR, ALEXANDRIA AND RANIESHA ONE MORE ROUND OF APPLAUSE.
[ APPLAUSE ]>>PRESIDENT MICHAEL BENSON AND
PROVOST VICE WILL NOW PROCEED WITH THE FORMAL CONFERRING OF
DEGREES ON OUR GRADUATES. CANDIDATES, AS YOUR DEGREE
CATEGORY IS CALLED, PLEASE STAND AND REMAIN STANDING UNTIL THE
FINAL GROUP IS CALLED.>>PRESIDENT BENSON, DEAN JERRY
POGATSHNIK WILL PRESENT CANDIDATES FOR GRADUATE DEGREES.>>WILL ALL CANDIDATES FOR
DOCTORAL DEGREES PLEASE STAND AND REMAIN STANDING. WILL ALL CANDIDATES FOR
SPECIALIST DEGREES PLEASE STAND AND REMAIN STANDING. WILL ALL CANDIDATES FOR MASTER’S
DEGREES PLEASE STAND AND REMAIN STANDING. PRESIDENT BENSON, THESE
CANDIDATES HAVE BEEN APPROVED BY THE FACULTY, AND I PRESENT THEM
TO YOU FOR THE CONFERRING OF THEIR DEGREES.>>PRESIDENT BENSON, DEAN
EREKSON WILL PRESENT CANDIDATES FOR UNDERGRADUATE DEGREES IN THE
COLLEGE OF BUSINESS & TECHNOLOGY.>>WILL THE CANDIDATES FOR
BACCALAUREATE DEGREES IN THE COLLEGE OF BUSINESS & TECHNOLOGY
PLEASE STAND AND REMAIN STANDING. PRESIDENT BENSON, THESE
CANDIDATES HAVE BEEN APPROVED BY THE FACULTY, AND I PRESENT THEM
TO YOU FOR THE CONFERRING OF THEIR DEGREES.>>PRESIDENT BENSON, DEAN SHERRY
POWERS WILL PRESENT CANDIDATES FOR UNDERGRADUATE DEGREES IN THE
COLLEGE OF EDUCATION.>>WILL THE CANDIDATES FOR
BACCALAUREATE DEGREES IN THE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION PLEASE
STAND AND REMAIN STANDING. WILL THE CANDIDATES FOR
ASSOCIATE DEGREES PLEASE STAND AND REMAIN STANDING. PRESIDENT BENSON, THESE
CANDIDATES HAVE BEEN APPROVED BY THE FACULTY, AND I PRESENT THEM
TO YOU FOR THE CONFERRING OF THEIR DEGREES.>>PRESIDENT BENSON, DEAN TOM
OTIENO WILL PRESENT CANDIDATES FOR UNDERGRADUATE DEGREES IN THE
COLLEGE OF SCIENCE.>>WILL THE CANDIDATES FOR
BACCALAUREATE DEGREES IN THE COLLEGE OF SCIENCE PLEASE STAND
AND REMAIN STANDING. PRESIDENT BENSON THESE
CANDIDATES HAVE BEEN APPROVED BY THE FACULTY, AND I PRESENT THEM
TO YOU FOR THE CONFERRING OF THEIR DEGREES.>>PRESIDENT BENSON, WITH THE
RECOMMENDATION OF THE FACULTY, THE DEANS AND I PRESENT THESE
CANDIDATES TO YOU FOR THE CONFERRING OF THEIR DEGREES.>>CANDIDATES, THE LONG
ANTICIPATED HOUR HAS COME. YOU ARE HERE WITH FAMILY AND
LOVED ONES LOOKING ON. THE FACULTY AND OFFICERS OF THE
UNIVERSITY ARE GATHERED IN WITNESS AND TESTIMONY TO YOUR
CONDUCT AND PURPOSE. THEREFORE, BY VIRTUE OF THE
AUTHORITY GRANTED ME BY THE BOARD OF REGENTS OF EASTERN
KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY, AND WITH THE FACULTY’S RECOMMENDATION, IT
IS NOW MY PLEASURE TO CONFER UPON EACH OF YOU THE APPROPRIATE
DEGREE, AND DO HEREBY VEST EACH OF YOU WITH THE RIGHTS AND
PRIVILEGES PERTAINING TO THAT DEGREE. ONCE VERIFIED BY FINAL GRADES,
YOUR DIPLOMA WILL BE CONFIRMED AND ACKNOWLEDGED BY THE GREAT
SEAL OF EASTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY. CONGRATULATIONS! PLEASE BE SEATED.
[ APPLAUSE ] PROFESSOR JOHN STRADA WILL NOW
READ THE NAMES OF THE GRADUATES. OUT OF RESPECT FOR THE
GRADUATES, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHOSE NAMES ARE TO BE CALLED
NEXT, I ASK THAT YOU REMAIN SEATED AND HOLD YOUR APPLAUSE
UNTIL ALL THE GRADUATES HAVE BEEN RECOGNIZED AND THE
RECESSIONAL BEGINS. I KNOW THIS MAY BE DIFFICULT,
BUT I ASK YOU TO PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL TO ALL THE CANDIDATES TODAY.
WILL THE HONORARY FACULTY ADVISERS PLEASE ESCORT THE
DEGREE CANDIDATES TO THE STAGE. [ CONFERRING OF DEGREES ] [ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]>>HOW ABOUT ANOTHER BIG ROUND
OF APPLAUSE FOR PROFESSOR JOHN STRADA.
[ APPLAUSE ] GRADUATES, THE MOMENT FOR WHICH
YOU HAVE WORKED SO LONG AND HARD IS NOW AT HAND.
IF YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY DONE SO, PLEASE NOW MOVE YOUR TASSELS
FROM THE RIGHT TO THE LEFT. [ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ] NOW, LIEUTENANT COLONEL
ROBINSON, CHAIR OF OUR DEPARTMENT OF MILITARY SCIENCE
AND LEADERSHIP, WILL ISSUE THE OATH OF OFFICE TO OUR NEWLY
COMMISSIONED ARMY OFFICERS. COLONEL ROBINSON.>>RAISE YOUR RIGHT HAND.
REPEAT AFTER ME. I, STATE YOUR NAME.
HAVE BEEN APPOINTED AN OFFICER IN THE ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES
, IN THE ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES.
IN THE GRADE OF SECOND LIEUTENANT, DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR TO SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE
CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AGAINST ALL ENEMYIES,
FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC, AND BEAR TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE TO THE SAME.
I TAKE THIS OATH WITHOUT PURPOSE RESERVATION.
I WILL WELL AND FAITHFULLY DIS OFFICE UPON WHICH I AM OBJECT TO ENTER, SO HELP ME GOD.
[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]>>THANK YOU.
ALUMNI ARE SO VERY IMPORTANT IN THE LIFE OF A UNIVERSITY,AND WE
ARE BLESSED AT EASTERN TO HAVE THE LOYAL SUPPORT OF MORE THAN
135,000 ALUMNI. DR. TOM MARTIN, PRESIDENT OF OUR
INTERNATIONAL ALUMNI ASSOCIATION, WILL NOW OFFER
GREETINGS TO OUR NEWEST ALUMNI. DR. MARTIN.>>THANK YOU, PRESIDENT BENSON.
GRADUATES, TODAY YOU ARE JOINING A VERY SPECIAL GROUP OF
INDIVIDUALS — MEN AND WOMEN FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD WHO HAVE
BROUGHT GREAT HONOR TO THIS INSTITUTION BY DISTINGUISHING
THEMSELVES IN THEIR CAREERS AND IN THEIR COMMUNITIES. AND TODAY’S COMMENCEMENT IS A
VERY SPECIAL MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE.
A NUMBER OF YOUR FUTURE EXPERIENCES WILL BE VERY
TRANSACTIONAL. YOU GET A PRODUCT OR A SERVICE,
AND YOU PAY FOR IT AND THAT’S THE END OF THAT.
BUT TODAY WE BREAK OUT THE ROBES AND WE PERFORM THIS CEREMONY,
AND SOME OF YOU WILL GET SELFIES WITH PRESIDENT BENSON IN THE
LOBBY, BECAUSE THE DEGREE THAT YOU HAVE EARNED TODAY IS
TRANSFORMATIVE. IT IS YOUR TICKET TO THE GATEWAY
OF THE WORLD. AS PROVOST VICE SAID EARLIER,
EASTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY WILL BE ATTACHED TO YOUR NAME FOR THE
REST OF YOUR LIFE. IT IS A CAPSTONE OF YOUR SUCCESS AND THE RELATIONSHIPS THAT YOU
CREATED WITH STUDENTS AND FACULTY THAT WILL LAST A
LIFETIME. REMEMBER THE PERSON THAT
VOLUNTEERED TO SPEAK TO ONE OF YOUR CLASSES OR THE FACULTY
MEMBER THAT GAVE YOU THAT EXTRA ENCOURAGEMENT?
OR THE SIGNIFICANT EVENT ON CAMPUS THAT MOTIVATED YOU TO GET
TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY? HOW DO YOU ENSURE THAT THE NEXT
GENERATION OF STUDENTS, THAT FOLLOW GET THAT SAME
OPPORTUNITY? AS YOU HAVE HEARD FROM DAY LON
AND ALEXANDRIA AND RA MEAN RE NEISHA
TODAY, THE DEGREE THAT YOU’VE EARNED TODAY IS NOT A TICKET TO
ENTITLEMENT OR SOME RAREFYIED AIR
AIR, BUT IS YOUR CREDENTIAL TO RESPONSIBILITY.
IT’S AN EXPECTATION YOU’LL PURSUE THE WORLD’S BIGGEST
CHALLENGES HEAD-ON AND DEMAND TO BE ENGAGED, BE ENCOURAGING, BE
EXTRAORDINARY, GO COLONELS! [ APPLAUSE ]>>THANK YOU, DR. MARTIN. WE’VE BEEN HERE SINCE 9:00 THIS
MORNING. THIS IS OUR THIRD CEREMONY TODAY
TODAY. AND AT THE BACK OF THE COLISEUM
IS A GROUP OF STUDENTS WHO DID NOT HAVE TO BE HERE.
THEY ARE MEMBERS OF OUR EKU SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA UNDER THE
ABLE BATON OF DR. JAIR ME MULHOLLAND.
I’D LIKE TO THANK THEM FOR THE MUSIC THEY PROVIDED AND THANK
THEM FOR BEING HERE. SO THANK YOU, DR. MULHOLLAND.
[ APPLAUSE ] PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT NOW OR
LATER, IF YOU WILL, TO TWEET ABOUT THE PEOPLE, THE PLACES AND THE PROGRAMS THAT WERE MEANING
MEANINGFUL TO YOU DURING YOUR TIME AT EKU.
AND USE THE EKU TWITTER CHANNEL CHANNEL @EKUSTORIES. PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT NOW, OR
LATER, TO TWEET ABOUT THE PEOPLE, THE PLACES AND THE
PROGRAMS THAT WERE MEANINGFUL TO YOU DURING YOUR TIME AT EKU.
TELL US ABOUT THE GOOD TIMES YOU’VE HAD — THE MEMORABLE
CLASSES, FRIENDS, PROFESSORS AND EVENTS THAT MARKED YOUR TIME AS
AN EKU COLONEL. FOR THE FAMILIES AND FRIENDS IN
THE AUDIENCE, PLEASE FOLLOW @EKUSTORIES AND TELL US ABOUT
YOUR OWN EASTERN EXPERIENCE OR PASS ALONG CONGRATULATIONS TO
TODAY’S HONOREES. GRADUATES, I CERTAINLY EXTEND TO
EACH OF YOU MY CONGRATULATIONS AND THOSE OF MY COLLEAGUES.
YOU DEPART THIS UNIVERSITY WITH OUR BEST WISHES AND MOST SINCERE
REGARD. YOU LEAVE EKU A BETTER PLACE
BECAUSE OF YOUR SERVICE AND ACHIEVEMENTS. I SINCERELY HOPE A BOND HAS BEEN
FORMED BETWEEN YOU AND THIS INSTITUTION.
YOUR DIPLOMA IS MORE THAN JUST A PIECE OF PAPER: IT IS YOUR
TICKET INTO THE WORLD OF EDUCATED PERSONS … AND AN
INVITATION TO JOIN FOR LIFE THE EASTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY
FAMILY. FROM THIS TIME FORWARD, THE
NAME, THE TRADITIONS, THE INFLUENCE OF THIS UNIVERSITY ARE
FREELY YOURS, JUST AS YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS, YOUR SUCCESSES,
INDEED THE TENOR OF YOUR LIFE WILL REFLECT FOREVER ON EKU. TO THE CLASS OF 2016, YOU DID IT.
THIS IS A MAROON LETTER DAY IN YOUR LIFE.
WE CELEBRATE THIS SINGULAR ACCOMPLISHMENT TOGETHER WITH
YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR FRIENDS GATHERED TODAY.
YOU JOIN THE RANKS OF PROUD ALUMNI ALL OVER THE WORLD OF AN
INSTITUTION WHICH HAS SURVIVED DECADES OF CHALLENGES AND
TURMOIL BUT WHICH IS ALSO EMERGING STRONGER AND BETTER.
THE TRIALS OF THE PRESENT DAY ARE NO DIFFERENT FROM WHAT THOSE WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE US HAVE
SUCCESSFULLY OVERCOME. I REMEMBER HEARING A STORY
SEVERAL YEARS AGO OF A TRAVELER PASSING THROUGH A DUSTY AND ARID PORTION OF OKLAHOMA DURING THE
DARK DAYS OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION. HE HAPPENED ACROSS A LONE FARM
SURROUNDED BY NOTHING. IT HAD A RICKETY OLD SIGN ON THE
FRONT GATE WHICH READ: BURNT OUT BY DROUGHT, WASHED OUT BY FLOOD, ATE OUT BY JACKRABBITS,
SOLD OUT BY THE SHERIFF, STILL HERE.
AND SO ARE WE, STILL HERE. SINCE 1874, JUST LIKE THE NEW SIGN WELCOMING VISITORS TO OUR
CAMPUS PROUDLY ANNOUNCES AT THE CORNER OF THE BYPASS IN
LANCASTER AVENUE. YOU ARE GRADUATES OF AN
INSTITUTION WHICH TRACES ITS ROOTS BACK 142 YEARS. THERE’S MUCH TO BE SAID FOR
BEING PART OF A TRADITION TIED TO A UNIVERSITY WITH SUCH
STAYING POWER. THE FOUNDATION THEY PUT INTO
PLACE CONTINUES TO BE BUILT UPON BY SUBSEQUENT GENERATIONS OF
STUDENTS, FACULTY, STAFF, AND OUR COMMUNITY. TO BE SURE, THE CLASS OF 2016
ENTERS A WORLD OF TREMENDOUS UNCERTAINTY, FILLED WITH STRIFE AND CONFLICT, AND OPPORTUNITY.
ONE OF MY FAVORITE POEMS IS ENTITLED “PROSPICE” BY ROBERT
BROWNING. A FEW LINES FROM BROWNING’S
REMARKABLE PROSE SPEAK TO WHAT HAPPENS TO THOSE READY FOR SUCH
CHALLENGES, AND EQUIPPED TO TACKLE SUCH OPPORTUNITIES.
HE WROTE — “FOR SUDDEN THE WORST TURNS THE
BEST TO THE BRAVE. THE BLACK MINUTE’S AT END.
AND THE ELEMENTS’ RAGE, THE FIEND-VOICES THAT RAVE.
SHALL DWINDLE, SHALL BLEND. SHALL CHANGE, SHALL BECOME FIRST
A PEACE OUT OF PAIN.” TO THE GRADUATES BEFORE ME
TODAY, THE WORST OF TIMES TURN THE BEST TO THE BRAVE. AS YOU HEARD FROM OUR STUDENT
SPEAKERS TODAY, THIS IS YOUR MOMENT.
SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY AND STRIVE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
DO SOMETHING OF BENEFIT FOR THE WORLD WITH THE EDUCATION YOU’VE
WORKED SO HARD TO OBTAIN. AVAIL YOURSELF OF THE BOUNDLESS
OPPORTUNITIES BEFORE YOU GIVEN THE SKILLS AND ABILITIES YOU
ACQUIRED AND THE INVESTMENTS MADE BY YOU AND OTHERS IN YOUR
TRAINING. YES, THIS IS THE END OF YOUR EASTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY
EDUCATION. BUT AS THE NAME OF TODAY’S
CEREMONY SUGGESTS, COMMENCEMENT. IT IS ONLY THE BEGINNING OF THE BIG, BOLD ADVENTURE THAT AWAITS
YOU AS YOU ENTER THE WORLD AS A PROUD COLONEL GRADUATE.
CONGRATULATIONS. NOW FOR ONE LAST TIME, LET’S
RECOGNIZE WITH A HEARTY ROUND OF CLASS OF EKU.
[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ] THE DEANS, YOUR FACULTY AND I
WOULD LIKE TO INVITE YOU TO A RECEPTION IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE
CEREMONY.

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