The 218th graduating class crossed the stage at OSU Institute of Technology while friends and family watched and cheered them on virtually during the spring 2021 ceremony. The live-streamed event took place April 20 at 2 p.m. following the Nursing pinning ceremony at 10 a.m.
OSUIT President Bill R. Path welcomed the graduates and recognized the graduating class's honors. Of the 239 students who graduated, 44.7% graduated with honors: 65 graduating cum laude, 25 magna cum laude and 17 summa cum laude.
Rick Davis, chair of the OSU/A&M Board of Regents, congratulated the graduating class and acknowledged that commencement represents a true milestone in life.
"I'm confident that as you look back in future years on this time that you spent on this campus that you will realize that it was a time of personal growth that ultimately helped change your course in life," said Davis. "There will be many other factors besides this institution that are going to determine whether you are successful and how your life is moving forward, but I think today we can all agree that OSU and OSUIT have played a great critical role in your life up to this point."
Burns Hargis, the 18th president of the OSU System who is set to retire July 1, reminded the OSUIT graduates of their importance to the OSU System.
"From its beginning as a trade school for WWII veterans, OSUIT has never waivered from its mission to develop highly educated, highly skilled professionals," said Hargis. "OSUIT partners with industry to make sure students receive the latest training while using the most advanced technologies. OSUIT graduates, you can be confident that you have the skills and education you need for your success."
He closed by acknowledging that OSUIT is a "recognized leader and Oklahoma jewel."
President Emeritus Robert E. Klabenes spoke to the graduates about the campus's history as it celebrates its 75th anniversary and how OSUIT has come to be the place it is today.
"Graduates, there is not a better place in the country for you to acquire the knowledge and skills needed for immediate employment and career advancement in emerging technologies," said Klabenes. "OSUIT is your institution and has grown and developed during the past 75 years. We want to make sure that the next 75 years are as good as these past 75 years have been. In just 25 more years, the institution will celebrate its first 100 years. I wish each of you tremendous success and that you will make it a point to return to the institution in 2046 and help it celebrate its first 100 years."
Student respondent Julie Esther Orellana-Muy, a graduate of the School of Creative & Information Technologies, followed Klabenes with a reflection of the past 75 years and how OSUIT has been a positive contribution during that time.
"Over the last 75 years, this world has seen its share of conflict, heartache, natural disasters and disease. If we would just focus on these, our hearts would quickly become overwhelmed with fear, anxiety and stress," she said. "But over those same 75 years, OSUIT has provided people like you and me with opportunities for turning conflict into solutions, heartache into hope, disaster into rebuilding and disease into healing. We are the latest class in a 75-year running legacy of educational excellence that has made our communities better and able to withstand and even thrive through adversity."
Orellana mentioned how she had come to OSUIT after being home-schooled and wondered what her experience would be like.
"Coming to in-person classes on campus at OSUIT was a great experience. Meeting some of you, my fellow classmates, and many instructors face to face was another amazing milestone in my life. And then, back to home-school we all went with COVID," she reminded everyone. "I take a moment today to acknowledge those who have suffered loss through this pandemic. May you be strengthened and encouraged, knowing that you are not alone and that we grieve and hope with you."
She closed by mentioning three principles crucial to her success, integrity, dedication and accountability.
"So, what is next for each of us? Is this it? Are we done? Of course not! We are just getting started. It is now up to us to take our hard work to the next level. It is now our opportunity to go and demonstrate this same dedication, accountability, and integrity in our next endeavor. Do not settle now. You have accomplished so much."
The commencement ceremonies can be viewed on-demand on the OSUIT website.