SALEM- Kent State University-Salem held its annual spring commencement Friday evening at the Kent State City Center, conferring 259 associate and bachelor's degrees to fall and spring graduates.
Keynote speaker Dr. Karen Figg, professor emerita of English at KSU-Salem, challenged the graduates to live in the moment and seize the opportunities that are new every day.
"Even if you aren't immediately working at the job of your dreams, if you are engaged with the people around you and taking the time to notice what they might need, you will probably find a way to put your education to work and lead a more connected and energy-filled life," she said.
She also congratulated students on their academic successes and encouraged them to avoid pressures of following the crowd, to make their own way, think critically and to do good to others and to themselves.
"Sometimes we have to be flexible with our plans in order to get the full value of what is there for the taking," she said. "Your education at Kent Salem has encouraged you to think critically, and we hope it has given you the tools...to do the good that you want to do. But you will not be able to follow through on it unless you nurture your personal freedom in very practical ways."
Student speaker Laura O'Wesney, radiological technology graduate, also addressed the Salem graduates with a sense of achievement and pride. A non-traditional student, she spoke of the challenges of being a college student and quickly explained why classifications such as "non-traditional student" held no credence to what being a college student is all about.
"We all had the same goal," she said. "We all wanted to better ourselves, didn't we? We all wanted to learn. So I ask you, am I really a non-traditional student just because I am not recently out of high school?
"As each of us makes that traditional walk across this stage to collect our well-earned diplomas tonight, I believe we are all the same. We are all traditional students...in the sense that we came here to achieve that same traditional goal of a higher education and attaining a dream."
Over 390 degrees were conferred to graduates from the Salem and East Liverpool campuses this year, with representatives from all 12 degree programs offered at the two campuses.
Kevin Howell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org