undergraduate commencement

Emmy award-winning actress Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, encouraged graduates to follow their passions during Ohio University's 258th undergraduate commencement exercises.

Photographer: Ben Siegel

undergraduate commencment

More than 3,000 Ohio University graduates took part in separate morning and afternoon commencement ceremonies.

Photographer: Liz Held

undergraduate commencement

Graduates look on as Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis addresses the audience.

Photographer: Ben Siegel

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Commencement 2012

Ay, caramba! OHIO sends off Class of 2012, with help from the voice of Bart Simpson

Emmy award-winning actress Nancy Cartwright encourages graduates to follow their passions

Ohio University today bid farewell to the Class of 2012 during its 258th undergraduate commencement exercises.

More than 3,000 graduates took part in separate morning and afternoon ceremonies, mortarboards decorated with glittering spirals, national flags, animal prints and even the heartfelt sentiment, "OU: It isn’t four years; it’s for life."

Graduates of the College of Business, College of Fine Arts, Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology, Regional Higher Education, Scripps College of Communication and University College took part in the 9:30 a.m. ceremony. Those earning degrees from the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Health Sciences and Professions, Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education and Human Services, and the Honors Tutorial College marched into the Convocation Center at 2 p.m.

In addition to the traditional music selections – "Pomp and Circumstance," "Alma Mater, Ohio" and the National Anthem – The Simpson's theme song made its way into this year's program, rolling out the red carpet for commencement speaker Nancy Cartwright, an Emmy award-winning actress and voice of television superstar Bart Simpson.

"Do what you love"

In a witty and humorous address peppered with personal anecdotes and Bart-isms, Cartwright challenged graduates to:

  • Do what you love.
  • Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your dreams.
  • Hitch your wagon to a winner.
  • Be a professional.
  • Trust your instincts.
  • Decide exactly what you want to do.

"No one prepared me for success … I simply decided what I really loved doing and made choices along the way that focused me in that direction," Cartwright told the audience.

A native of Kettering, Ohio, Cartwright began her postsecondary education at Ohio University. As a past member and lifetime supporter of the Ohio University Forensics Team, she also funds a scholarship at Fairmont High School for students who want to pursue speech, debate, drama or music at Ohio University.

In addition to her work with The Simpsons, Cartwright has provided voice work for dozens of animated television shows including Rugrats, All Grown Up!, Kim Possible and Animaniacs. She has also transitioned to a producer, starting two companies, Cartwright Entertainment, Inc. and SportsBlast, LLC.

Throughout her address, Cartwright encouraged graduates to follow their passions. After offering a few additional bits of "sage advice" from "friends" – Nelson, Todd Flanders and Chuckie from Rugrats, among others – Cartwright brought the house down with her parting advice: "Eat my shorts!"
"Today, we honor you"

In OHIO tradition, commencement also marked an opportunity to single out standout students among the University's distinguished academic community. Among the 2012 Outstanding Senior Leaders was Student Alumni Board President Sarah Burkhart, who addressed her fellow graduates during the morning ceremony.

Burkhart reminisced about the past four years at Ohio University – highlighting OHIO football's bowl game appearances, Marching 110 teaching the nation to shuffle to the “Party Rock Anthem,” and the men's basketball team's run into the Sweet 16. She also reflected on global change during this time, including the swearing in of America's first African American President, the death of Osama Bin Laden and the rise of social networking.

"It is up to our generation to lead the nation through a constantly changing, interconnected world. It is our time to make change and leave our mark," she said. "I encourage all of you to stand up for what you believe in, even if it means standing alone, because if you look hard enough, there will be another Bobcat standing close by."

Student Senate President and former Student Trustee Kyle Triplett addressed his peers with a call for OHIO pride and for graduates to continue to serve their communities.

"At Ohio University we have gone beyond the call of being an 'average student' by being good citizens," he said. "The expectation for all Bobcats to go beyond the call does not end with graduation; there is a reason that our college gate reads, 'So depart that thou mayest better serve thy fellow men, thy county and thy God.' At Ohio University we have been educated to give of ourselves and make the world a better place."

Other Outstanding Senior Leaders recognized in the 2012 undergraduate commencement ceremonies included Scott Eardley, Jessica Huizenga, Ashanti Murdock, Jordan Thompson, Wenkai Tong, and Kyle Clem.

In his remarks, Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis focused on the years of effort and determination graduates put forth to earn an Ohio University diploma.

"Graduates, today, we honor you, your achievement, your commitment, and your passion," he said.

McDavis conferred honorary degrees upon Cartwright, Dean Emeritus of Ohio University Libraries Hwa-Wei Lee and retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Michael Jackson.

He announced this year's Presidential Teachers: Professor of Management Information Systems Raymond Frost and Associate Professor of Spanish Emilia Alonso Marks. McDavis also recognized the contributions and leadership of Dean of the College of Fine Arts Chuck McWeeny, Interim Dean for the College of Arts and Sciences Howard Dewald, Secretary to the Board of Trustees and Professor of Counselor Education Tom Davis, and Vice President for Student Affairs Kent Smith.

Looking back, forging ahead

As a capstone to years of hard work, commencement sparked a wide spectrum of reactions from participants.

For management information systems major Cameron Cofield, who plans to work with Chase Bank in Columbus following graduation, the ceremony offered closure on a key chapter of his life.

"My most memorable OHIO experience probably goes back to my freshman year, walking through the College Gate onto the College Green. That is one thing that will stick in my mind, and now I'm going to be walking out of it as a graduate," he said.

Interior architecture major Kevin Smith, who will soon advance to graduate school in Boston, views commencement as a door to the future.

“(Graduation) is more of an accomplishment along the road of goals," he said. "It’s not a stopping point. It’s more of a beginning."

Words of inspiration by Nancy Cartwright

"I encourage all of you, seniors, under-classmen, 10-year-old boys, your brothers and sisters and moms and dads to follow your passion. Life is art, so make it beautiful and make it your own."

"I believe that it is the artist who makes the difference in the world. It's the artist who is putting the future there through films, photography, theater, dance, sculpture, music and animation. It is the artist who gives hope in a troubled world."

"Listen to that inner voice. It is guiding you correctly. My own instincts have guided me right to where I am today."  

"I have found that it is your intention that will carry you far, rather than your ability or talent. People like to be around those who help with passion."

Parting words & memories

"My favorite Ohio University memory (was when) I met Roger Ailes like two weeks ago. I was chosen as one of four students chosen to sit at a round table and chat with him for an hour or so. It was cool to meet someone at that level and relate to them through OU."
-Kelsey Borca, broadcast journalism

"Any athletic event just stands out in my memory. It's just overwhelming to see everyone in green."
-Lisa Thomas, interior architecture

"I hope your dreams fly higher than your caps do."
- Sarah Burkhart, accounting and business pre-law

"As graduates of Ohio University I am confident that we will make the world a better place; this is what an Ohio University education calls us to do; this is what being a Bobcat is all about."
-Kyle Triplett, political science