Hundreds of MSU graduates received their Bachelor's degrees on Dec. 17 in two ceremonies held at the Jack Breslin center.
The graduates, who were MSU seniors just moments before, gathered with friends, family, faculty and administration to celebrate. Each ceremony honored graduates from half of the university’s colleges, the first at 10 a.m. and the second at 2 p.m.
At the earlier ceremony, graduates heard remarks from Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff and Interim Provost Thomas Jeitschko with music from the MSU Jazz Orchestra.
They then heard from the honorary doctorate in humanities degree recipient, Okhee Lee-Salwen, an MSU graduate and scholar at New York University. Lee-Salwen left graduates with four lessons from her own life experience: do it — do not leave yourself wondering, what if—, take care of yourself, put in the work, and make your mark on the world.
“Graduates, today you leave MSU and you chart a new path,” Lee-Salwen said. “Today you will rejoice in the accomplishment of finishing your degree in a time of unprecedented challenges. You have become more resilient for it, and you will continue to build your resilience… Be troublemakers. Then be trailblazers.”
Attendees also heard from the senior class speaker, accounting graduate Darryl Ervin. He told fellow students about his first visit to campus and how his decision to attend MSU changed his life. Ervin shared his own struggles as a first-generation college student and father while attending MSU. He said these challenges helped him build character, gave him purpose and shaped him into the person he is today.
“Graduates, I share this part of my story with you all to encourage you as we transition into what society calls ‘the real world,’” Ervin said. “I encourage you all to have faith in your future. Have faith that your next step is a step in the right direction. Have faith that all of the hours you put in put you in the seats you are in today. I want you all to remember this moment, not because you officially never have to submit another assignment to D2L, but that this moment serves as evidence that you have the ability to overcome.” (33:45)
Ervin also cited the slogan, “Spartans Will,” which he said he did not fully understand when he first came to MSU. However, Ervin said, he soon came to learn that “will” was both an external action and an internal conviction.
“How big is your internal will?” Ervin said. “How willing are you to discover what you are truly capable of? How willing are you to leave this world better than you found it? How willing are you to make your wildest dreams come to fruition? It's easy to say that we are willing to make our dreams come to pass, but do you believe it can happen? Do you truly believe that you can have and do whatever your heart desires? I do… Understand that we can only go as far as our life will take us, so let's not just believe, Spartans, but let's believe big.”
Supply chain management graduate Hunter Haffner enjoyed listening to the speeches and hearing about the diverse experiences of each speaker. For Haffner, graduation day was the culmination of years of hard work.
“I’m glad to get on and finish my degree and get a job and start working,” Haffner said. “I’m excited … It was very good to be able to walk across the stage this year because I watched my sister do it last year, so I really enjoyed getting to cross the finish line finally.”
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