Two commencement ceremonies were held at OSU Institute of Technology Friday, Aug. 20, to recognize the achievements of the 219th graduating class, ready to become competitive members of a world-class workforce and contributing members of society.
“This is a very accomplished group of graduates before me today,” said OSUIT President Bill R. Path, “You have endured the challenges of college and the hardships of COVID-19 and emerged victoriously. Through your hard work and fortitude, each of you has made yourself very proud today. I have the greatest respect for all of you.”
He also spoke to the graduating class’s success. Of the 280 students who graduated in these ceremonies, 73% graduated with honors: 105 graduating Cum Laude, 61 Magna Cum Laude and 38 Summa Cum Laude.
Fred Harlan, president and CEO of Harlan Ford, Inc. in Okmulgee, served as the keynote speaker for both ceremonies. He reminded students that regardless of their honor status, each student graduating is valuable and qualified to do the job they have trained for due to their education at OSUIT.
“I’ve been around Okmulgee for a long time, not quite 75 years, but I have been here to see all of the changes the campus has gone through. It started as Glennan Army Hospital with temporary housing-type barracks, and today the only thing remaining from that time is the water tower,” said Harlan. “Everything changes and evolves, but it’s important to pay attention to and learn from history, or you are bound to repeat it. Continue to educate yourself. Once you graduate, you will begin the next level of your education within your careers.”
Michael Wayne Troyer, an Associate in Applied Science in Western Equipment Dealers Association Technician graduate, served as the student respondent for the 10 a.m. ceremony, which included graduates from the School of Creative & Information Technologies and the School of Transportation & Heavy Equipment.
“Like many of you, I grew up on a farm and have been driving tractors my whole life but did not have any clue on how they functioned mechanically. I did not know what a spark plug or turbocharger was, and I was not familiar with engine components when I came to OSUIT,” said Troyer. “Because of the internships with P&K Equipment and the curriculum at OSUIT, I am now splitting tractors, removing engines from skid steers and repairing machines every day.”
Troyer relayed to the graduates that learning doesn’t happen overnight, and each one of them has made mistakes and learned from those mistakes, making them better technicians.
“My instructor told me that the only difference between the guy that has been doing the job for 25 years and me is that he has made a lot more mistakes than I have,” said Troyer. “Do not let failure ruin your confidence at your job, instead focus on your achievements and accomplishments to help you when a challenging job arises. Just because we graduate today does not mean that we stop learning tomorrow.”
James Hunter Brown, a Bachelor of Technology in Applied Technical Leadership graduate, served as the student respondent for the 2 p.m. ceremony, which included graduates from the School of Arts, Sciences & Health and the School of Engineering & Construction Technologies.
Brown spoke about how his experience in the BT in Applied Technical Leadership was challenging yet extremely valuable.
“Working a full-time demanding job, raising a newborn son and making time to focus specifically on school was challenging most of the time. However, I am confident that having gone through this program, we all now have more confidence in our abilities as employees,” he said. “We have learned to manage our time efficiently, prioritize our work, school and personal life duties, and will be well-equipped to take down any obstacles that life may throw our way in the future. I am proud to be included in the first graduating class of the BT in ATL program because our experiences will demonstrate to other people that it is not impossible to take care of your family, have a personal life, be an effective employee, and make time for school.”
Brown completed his Associate in Applied Science in Natural Gas Compression at OSUIT in 2015 and was offered a full-time position with Magellan Midstream Partners before graduation. The addition of the BT in ATL has allowed him to advance within the company into an operations supervisor and will allow for future advancement.
“OSUIT has been educating people of all ages and backgrounds for 75 years. That’s 75 years of changing people’s lives, changing families' lives, and providing excellent employees to countless different industries,” said Brown. “OSUIT has allowed me to strive to be the best I can be in all areas of life. I personally feel that I am a better husband, father and employee having completed this program. OSUIT has changed my life and has allowed myself and others to recognize that their dreams are achievable.”
Dr. Trudy Milner, chair of the OSU/A&M Board of Regents, reminded the graduates that their time at OSUIT had been a period of personal growth that will change the course of their lives.
“For many of us, OSU has played a critical role in the development of successful careers. For others, it may be where you met your spouse or lifelong friends. Many other factors will determine who you are, where you work and how you serve, but this occasion is when we recognize you and how important OSUIT has been to all of us,” said Dr. Milner. “Congratulations on your achievements. I hope your time at OSUIT will include countless memories.”