More than 370 students crossed the graduation stage Friday night and began their careers on Monday, a hallmark of OSU Institute of Technology’s educational model.
The two commencement ceremonies were held Aug. 22 in Covelle Hall on the OSUIT campus. Graduates from the Automotive Technologies and Diesel and Heavy Equipment divisions had their ceremony at 7 p.m., while the remaining divisions held an earlier ceremony at 2 p.m.
Mark Rodriguez, who has been a physics instructor at OSUIT for nearly 10 years, served as keynote speaker for both ceremonies.
“OSUIT is a unique educational experience,” Rodriguez said, referring to the university’s applied and outcome-focused approach. “What you are doing as graduates is helping real people with real problems, and they will be eternally grateful for your expertise.”
Megan Palmer, who graduated from the School of Culinary Arts, served as student respondent during the first ceremony Friday.
Palmer asked her fellow graduates to think back to their first trimester at OSUIT and then to all the study sessions, lectures, tests, extracurricular activities, life in the dorms or time spent commuting every day.
“It was all worth it. We accomplished our goal,” she said. “The day that seemed so far away? It’s finally here. Walk across this stage, and know you’re taking the first steps into your future.”
Palmer thanked the instructors at OSUIT for teaching and always believing in their students.
“Our future is bright because of you,” she said.
At the evening graduation, the student respondent was George Inekiengha Eben-Spiff, a graduate of the Pro-Tech program in the Automotive Technologies division and native of Bayelsa, Nigeria.
“People ask me how I found Okmulgee all the way from Nigeria. I tell them ‘Google,’” Spiff joked, but he did convey his gratitude to his now alma mater. “I thank my instructors for the support they gave me in and out of class and my classmates for always making me feel welcome.”
Spiff admits that it was difficult getting used to life in America, but his instructors and classmates were always there to help him.
“We all have challenges and daily battles, but it’s these challenges that define us. These challenges make or break us,” he said, and now he’s ready to start his career. “No matter what you decide to do after this, do something you’re passionate about.”
During his remarks to the graduates, Rodriguez told them as they begin the next phase of their lives to remember TIES, an acronym for tenacity, integrity, excellence and service.
“Life won’t be easy. Believe in what you learned here, and improve upon it,” he said.
But the highlight of both ceremonies was the moment Rodriguez opened his guitar case and serenaded the crowds with a song, a goodbye tradition for the instructor.
This time he fashioned a song highlighting all the OSUIT programs to the tune of The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” with the new lyrics “There’s a college in Okmulgee called OSUIT. And the graduates who get trained there, have the skills our country needs.”