Shawnee State University (SSU) added 211 more students to their alumni during Fall Commencement on Friday.
Of the 211 graduates, 34 received master degrees, 22 of which were in occupational therapy and 12 were in education; 114 received bachelor degrees; and 63 received associate degrees.
The institution had international students from United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia also graduating.
Many graduated with honors. 20 students were graduating with cum laude, 11 with magna cum laude, and three with summa cum laude.
Shawnee State University has grown to mean a great deal to many students, where they have not only received an education, but have competed in sports, performed in musicals, and have made friendships that will help them throughout their soon-to-be careers.
One of the graduates included Kasie Leightenheimer, an English student, who participated in various organizations during her time there.
“I am honored to have spent my undergraduate career at Shawnee, and joining their alumni is just another wonderful experience from SSU which I will always treasure,” Leightenheimer said. “I’m excited to show the world everything which Shawnee has taught me.”
Shawnee State University President Rick Kurtz also experienced his first SSU graduation as President. In the same fashion as previous president, Dr. Rita Morris, he spoke directly to graduates during the commencement.
“Every course you took, interaction you had with professors and fellow students, and experience you had during your years at Shawnee State University helped shape who you are at this moment – and added to your set of tools for success,” Kurtz directed to the SSU alumni. “My hope, and that of our faculty and staff here at Shawnee State, is that you rely on those tools throughout your life, and careers. You can go anywhere and do anything with your Shawnee State University degree.”
This was when he shook things up and made the commencement a little more…musical.
Inviting Linda Tieman, music director of Portsmouth West High School, and her select male choir, the Singing Men of West, on stage, they performed a parody of the song “New York New York” entitled “Shawnee Shawnee.”
The song started off, “Start spreading the news; You’re leaving today; But you’ll always be a part of it; Shawnee, Shawnee.”
The song covered what it is like to be a Shawnee State University Bear and surprised the audience with its spontaneity.
Kurtz has embraced his role as President this semester and says he looks forward to graduating many more Shawnee State University Bears.
He wished all of the students well on their approaching journeys and also offered words of wisdom.
“By now, you’ve figured out that a college education is about a great deal more than learning facts or knowing the ins and outs of your chosen field of study. It’s about preparing you to succeed in today’s world – which, as you know, is changing by the minute. To change and adapt with it, you need certain tools. You need to know how to learn, how to explore, how to dream, and then how to make those dreams a reality. Sounds simple, right? It can be – but it also takes time, determination, and a willingness to open your minds to new ideas and ways of thinking.”
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.