This summer’s commencement ceremonies looked different for the 216th graduating class of OSU Institute of Technology. Although the stands were empty, friends and family watched nearly 250 graduates walk across the OSUIT stage virtually.
Dr. Bill R. Path, OSUIT president, recognized that these students have not only accomplished earning a degree, but that they did so during a global pandemic.
“I recognize that this is a very accomplished group of graduates before me today,” said Path. “You have endured the challenges of college and the hardships of COVID-19 and emerged victorious. Through your hard work and fortitude, each of you have 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 249 students who graduated in this ceremony, 80% graduated with honors: 108 graduating Cum Laude, 61 Magna Cum Laude and 32 Summa Cum Laude.
The 10 a.m. ceremony included graduates from the School of Arts, Sciences & Health, School of Creative & Information Technologies and the School of Transportation & Heavy Equipment.
Terryl Lindsey, dean of the School of Transportation & Heavy Equipment, addressed graduates during the 10 a.m. ceremony and shared how he also graduated on this stage during what he thought was a tough time in history.
“I graduated from OSUIT in the fall of 1982,” said Lindsey. “I thought I had it rough because there was a huge snowstorm which kept me from walking across the stage until just after Christmas. But 2020, wow! What a year! I say to you, job well done. This has been a very interesting year to say the least.”
Lindsey quoted a poem by William A. Ward, instilling sensible advice to each graduate for their lives after commencement.
“Before you speak, listen. Before you write, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you invest, investigate. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try. Before you retire, save. Before you die, give.” – William A. Ward
Student respondent Christopher Jon Gootos, a graduate of the Information Technologies program, followed Lindsey in encouraging words to the graduating class, which reflected on their time at OSUIT.
“Today, each and every one of us has reached a milestone that not too long ago seemed so far away,” said Gootos. “Reaching this milestone has taken desire, dedication and fortitude. The desire to improve ourselves as we transition from student to employee in the IT community, but also to improve our school by using our education purposefully and skillfully.”
He talked about how graduates of OSUIT stand out in the workforce and get noticed as experts in their fields.
“Being one of America’s Brightest Orange should make each of us proud. For today, we represent those who came before us, and we provide inspirations to those who will follow us because being an Oklahoma State University Cowboy means we are loyal and true,” he said. “We are a family represented by our peers, the administration, faculty and staff. And like a family, we have been raised properly!”
He left the graduating class with two tasks.
“Take a moment to personally thank everyone who’s helped you attain your dream, from your family to your professors, without whom we wouldn’t be here together,” said Gootos. “And congratulate yourself for a job well done. Carry this feeling with you every day. As alumni of OSUIT, we can do anything we set in our sights.”
The 2 p.m. ceremony included graduates from the School of Engineering & Construction Technologies.
Dr. Pete Brown, a faculty member from the Natural Gas Compression program, spoke to the students about the joy, hope and optimism in the room despite the different world we live in today.
“Amid a world that looks vastly different from it did just a few short months ago, we come together differently than we have ever come together before,” said Brown. “Yet there is hope in this room, there is joy in this room, and there is an energy that is waiting to be released into a world that desperately needs hope and joy.”
He spoke of never losing hope in his journey to obtain an education and having faith in himself to continue to succeed. He left the graduates with four pieces of advice that he would have given himself.
“If it were really me that I was giving advice to, the first thing I would tell myself is to invest a couple of thousand dollars in Microsoft in 1986,” he joked. “On a more serious note, I would tell myself these four things: get up early and take time to think about your day before it begins, take control of your thoughts and your situation and have faith that hard work and dedication will yield success, don’t be wishy-washy, do what you say you are going to do, keep your word and leave a hole.”
He encouraged the graduates to always have fun. “Life is what you make of it.”
Student respondent, Tyler Andrew Koshiway, a graduate of the Construction Technology - Electrical Construction program, finished out the speeches for the day with a reminder that this ceremony was not just for the graduates but also for everyone who encouraged and played a part in each student’s success.
“I want you to know that this graduation ceremony may be for us who are graduating, but each and every one of you who are watching are just as important,” said Koshiway. “This is because we couldn’t have made it without you. How you have interacted with one of these graduates throughout their lives, in any way, shape or form, you have helped them become the person they are today. From the looks of it, I see a bunch of good, hard-working people and knowledgeable people who will find great jobs because you have helped them along their way.”
He continued to inspire his fellow graduates with a message of motivation, “You can do anything you set your mind to, as long as you have the right motivation.”
He closed out his comments with a reminder that we all deserve equal treatment and kindness, no matter the differences.
“I know these are strange times that we are living in right now. I know we will overcome this and remember; we are all people. Living, breathing organisms of the human race.”
The commencement ceremonies can be viewed on demand on the OSUIT website.