Their time at MSU will be over in fewer than two weeks, but before graduating students, including environmental economics and policy senior Rachel Plawecki, leave campus, they will have the opportunity to receive motivation from successful individuals — notably Gov. Rick Snyder — at this semester’s commencement ceremonies, scheduled for Dec. 14-15 at Breslin Center.
Other speakers include Johnnetta B. Cole, director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, and Thomas Vilsack, secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“We’ve done all we can, and these people are here to motivate us to become (successful like) those people in the future,” Plawecki said.
Snyder, who was the president and interim CEO of Gateway prior to becoming Michigan’s 48th governor, will speak to the colleges of Arts and Letters, Education, Music and Social Science, and the Eli Broad College of Business.
He also will address graduates from James Madison College and the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities during the 10 a.m. ceremony on Dec. 15.
Cole served as the president of Spelman College and Bennett College for Women before receiving her current position. She will speak to the colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Communication Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Natural Science and Nursing, along with Lyman Briggs College, at the 2 p.m. ceremony Dec. 15.
Vilsack will speak at the advanced degree ceremony at 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 14.
Prior to his appointment as the secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Vilsack served as the governor of Iowa.
All three speakers, plus Christopher Somerville and Ian Cowx, also will receive honorary degrees this fall. Somerville is the director of Energy Biosciences Institute and Ian Cowx is the director of Hull International Fisheries Institute at University of Hull in the U.K.
Commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients are recommended to President Lou Anna K. Simon by the vice president for Research and Graduate Studies’ Honorary Degree Committee, MSU Provost Kim Wilcox said in an email.
“Commencement is a time of reflection — reflection on the graduates’ accomplishments, reflection about the possibilities of the future and reflection of what an education and a university mean,” Wilcox said. “Commencement speakers help us put those thoughts into a context and help us appreciate all that the graduates have accomplished and all that they are about to accomplish.”
Criminal justice senior Kevin Remus will have the chance to hear Snyder speak, and said it’s valuable for students to hear successful individuals.
“I think it’s kind of interesting that he’s taking an interest in education and is willing to speak and hopefully, inspire people in the future,” Remus said. “(This can) help them give some insight on real life experiences.”