Nearly 200 students will step across the graduation stage on April 21 and step into careers as graduates of OSU Institute of Technology.
The commencement ceremony for the 206th graduation class begins at 2 p.m. in Covelle Hall on the OSUIT campus, 1801 East 4th Street in Okmulgee.
Dr. Jerry Dawkins will serve as the keynote speaker at the ceremony. Dawkins is principal security consultant and founder of True Digital Security, an information security consulting firm based in Tulsa that offers leading processes, best practices and expertise to private and public organizations.
“I am humbled and honored to part of such an important day. I know the graduates have worked hard to achieve this goal, and I look forward to hopefully offering some insight and wisdom into the road ahead,” he said.
Dawkins knows what it’s like to sit in a cap and gown. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., and then his Master of Science and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Tulsa.
“I remember a sense of accomplishment but, at the same time, nervousness about the unknown next chapter in my life. For me, it was transitioning from an academic life to the ‘real world,’” he said. “I had my knowledge tested on a daily basis, and I realized that I didn’t know everything. My education taught me how to learn, but what I learned was that I wasn’t done learning.”
Also speaking during the graduation ceremony is student respondent Jacob Allen, who is graduating with an Associate in Applied Science in Air Conditioning & Refrigeration from the School of Construction Technologies.
Allen said he’s really enjoyed his time at OSUIT because of the university’s mission of applied learning and hands-on experience.
“The first two semesters, the faculty is there to help you. You learn a lot of fundamentals and read a lot of textbooks,” Allen said, but as students progress they are given more freedom to learn by doing. “There’s a lot of trial and error, but that’s how I like to learn. If I go do it, that’s how I’ll remember it.”
Allen completed his internship at Texas’ ACIS Innovative Solutions, which provides HVAC, plumbing and automation services. He was also awarded a scholarship from ACIS and will begin his career at the company’s McKinney, Texas location after graduation.
“There’s a huge variety of work in ACR; I didn’t realize there was so much variety when I started. It’s like cars, there are so many different makes and models,” he said, and he hopes more people consider attending OSUIT. “The program is good; I feel like it’s taught at a good pace. I’ve tried to recruit people to come here.”
As a business owner, Dawkins knows the value of hiring someone who not only has the knowledge for the job, but also a love for it. That’s why he has offered internships to OSUIT students and then hired some of them full time at True Digital Security.
“In looking for talent, it’s not just about technical capability but passion and work ethic. I’ve found in working with OSUIT graduates that they have a drive and a passion in their field of study. The applied curriculum gives then experience that can easily translate to the field,” he said.
Ultimately, Dawkins said he hopes his address to the graduates will impart a sense of appreciation for their accomplishments and excitement for their future impact on the state and the country.
“While they have achieved a milestone, they are just starting their journey,” he said. “Do so with a sense of pride, passion and integrity. This will lead them to success in life.”