OSU Institute of Technology’s 222nd graduating class included more than 300 students dressed in regalia, diplomas in hand and industry bound with jobs secured before graduation. The commencement was held as two separate ceremonies on August 25 in Covelle Hall on the OSUIT campus.
Dr. Bill R. Path greeted everyone in attendance by celebrating the success of OSUIT’s newest alums. Of the graduates, 70% of students received honor status for their exceptional academic performance, with 113 graduating Cum Laude, 60 Magna Cum Laude and 51 Summa Cum Laude.
Speakers at the event challenged the audience to persevere through life’s challenges, remain optimistic during seasons of change and lead others by example and purposefully.
State automotive director, Jimmy Cagle, served as the commencement’s keynote speaker and stated that although we are experiencing a world of dramatic change and uncertainty, we are also living in a world of infinite opportunity.
“Welcome to our world – Where opportunity never stops knocking. Where the pace of change is so drastic that what you read about today is old news tomorrow. Where company start-ups are occurring at an unforeseen pace as entrepreneurs initiate and follow through on ideas that will better our lives. Where young people have a wide choice of jobs and career opportunities – job openings outpace job applicants by a ratio of 2:1. Where dreams are made into realities,” said Cagle. “Welcome to a world where you truly can be what you want to be.”
He left graduates with seven key pieces of advice as they embark on their careers in an ever-evolving world.
“As someone that has been doing this for more than half a century, I want to leave you with some insights and challenges as you enter the world of work: Find a few minutes each day to experience joy, enjoy and develop a passion for what you are doing, don’t forget to be compassionate in helping others less fortunate, be dedicated to your life’s profession and never stop learning, know yourself and your meaning and purpose in life, be grateful for what you have and don’t be afraid to dream and take risks,” encouraged Cagle.
Student respondent for the 10 a.m. ceremony, Corionna Lawrence, graduated from the School of Arts, Sciences & Health. She shared with her classmates the honor and surprise she experienced when asked to speak at graduation, a graduation that Cori, a single mom of three, didn’t know was available to her until her first campus visit.
“Coming to OSUIT has been a whirlwind of experiences. The first time I visited, I spoke to Katie Quillin and Fran Colombin about the assistance available through OSUIT’s MPower program. They let me know I could pursue my education and that it would enable me to sustain employment while providing for my family,” she said. “I fell on hard times in 2020 and only planned to stay at OSUIT a few months, complete some quick pieces of training and be back on my feet,” Lawrence continued, “this was two years ago; since then, my journey has taken a few turns.”
When her plan to attend fast-paced courses fell through, Lawrence looked to her support system for encouragement, which inspired her to set out on a new educational path and career in nursing.
“I decided to pursue the nursing field and knew I wanted to complete my allied health degree. Through the help of the MPower program and the assurance of close family and friends who believed in me, I am completing this degree debt-free and ready for the next phase of my educational journey,” said Lawrence. “Being a single mother, I didn't think a college degree was even within my reach. The resources I have in place allowed me to not only get a college degree but to care for my children.”
While attending OSUIT, she continued to find reassurance in the kindness of instructors she credits for developing and assisting her each semester and reinforcing what it means to be a part of the cowboy family.
“Many of us look back and wonder if our journey here at OSUIT has made an impact. I can tell you that each of our stories matters and show courage and determination. Each of us had a choice to push for our dreams, and we each took the torch and ran,” she said as the morning ceremony ended.
Michael Lopez, a Marine Corp veteran and graduate from the School of Engineering & Construction Technologies, served as the student respondent for the 2 p.m. ceremony.
“I am extremely proud of my service to this great nation. From 2003 – 2011, I served in the Marine Corps as an Infantryman and Combat Instructor, deploying three times to the Al Anbar Province, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom during some of the heaviest counter-insurgency and house-to-house fighting of the Iraq War,” he shared. “One of the first and most important lessons impressed upon the Marine Recruit when he or she arrives at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot is how to move quickly, how to sound off and LEADERSHIP!! Everybody has experienced different styles of leadership in their life, some good, some bad.”
Lopez told the story of a historic Marine, Lt. General “Chesty” Puller and pressed the crowd to find inspiration from great leaders, embrace life’s challenges, take risks and seek and initiate change.
“While I do not expect any of you to go out into the world with the bravado of Lt. General Puller charging into battle, I do hope that you all understand the need for true and decisive leadership today,” Lopez said. Many of you will be in leadership positions very soon. Responsible for teams small and large, bottom lines, manufacturing processes, supply chain requisitions and much more. Be the change that America needs. Change the status quo.”
His speech concluded with a message of honoring his country, his pride as a veteran and the knowledge his experiences afford him, ending with congratulating his classmates on their academic success.
“It has been an honor sitting next to you, men and women, sharing the experiences of expanding our minds and knowledge together. I will leave here a better man with the knowledge I have gained at this institution. Better equipped to lead everyday Americans in whatever profession fate has in store for me, and most importantly, a better man and leader in this great nation I love to my dying breath,” said Lopez. “My warmest congratulations to you all for this great accomplishment. May God bless you all and the United States of America. Thank you.”