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Scenes from Class of 2017's Undergraduate Commencement (PHOTOS)


Approximately 3,000 Ohio University students participated in Undergraduate Commencement ceremonies held Saturday, April 29, at the Convocation Center, celebrating the pinnacle moment of their OHIO undergrad experience.

The day was filled with smiles and a few tears as members of the Class of 2017 reflected on their undergraduate journeys and were welcomed into the family of OHIO alumni. Coverage of the day’s events is available here

Here are some memorable moments from the day:

Members of the Class of 2017 line up outside the Convocation Center for the morning Undergraduate Commencement ceremony.

Members of the Class of 2017 line up outside the Convocation Center for the morning Undergraduate Commencement ceremony. The two Undergraduate Commencement ceremonies included graduates from all of the University’s academic colleges as well as its regional campuses.

Interim Ohio University President David Descutner welcomes the Class of 2017, proud family members and friends, faculty, staff and distinguished guests to this year’s Undergraduate Commencement.

Interim Ohio University President David Descutner welcomes the Class of 2017, proud family members and friends, faculty, staff and distinguished guests to this year’s Undergraduate Commencement.

Graduate Sarah Pinter takes in the words of wisdom offered by the Commencement speakers.

Graduate Sarah Pinter takes in the words of wisdom offered by the Commencement speakers.

Among the thousands who attended this year’s Undergraduate Commencement ceremonies to celebrate with the Class of 2017 were OHIO’s incoming president, Dr. Duane Nellis, and his wife, Ruthie.

Among the thousands who attended this year’s Undergraduate Commencement ceremonies to celebrate with the Class of 2017 were OHIO’s incoming president, Dr. Duane Nellis, and his wife, Ruthie. Ohio University’s 21st president, Dr. Nellis will officially start his presidency on June 12.

Graduates (from left) Connor McChrystal, Tajha Laflore and Ethan Stupka pose for a photo at their Undergraduate Commencement.

Graduates (from left) Connor McChrystal, Tajha Laflore and Ethan Stupka pose for a photo at their Undergraduate Commencement.

Former student Bobcat Wesley Lowery delivers the Commencement speech at this year’s Undergraduate Commencement.

Former student Bobcat Wesley Lowery delivers the Commencement speech at this year’s Undergraduate Commencement. A national correspondent for The Washington Post, Lowery’s work has contributed to Pulitzer Prizes awarded to both The Post and The Boston Globe. In his speech, Lowery issued a warning and an assurance to the Class of 2017.

Graduate Megan Elaine Kapple is all smiles as she looks around the Convocation Center at the thousands of people in the stands who have supported the graduates on their academic journey and were there to celebrate their big day.

Graduate Megan Elaine Kapple is all smiles as she looks around the Convocation Center at the thousands of people in the stands who have supported the graduates on their academic journey and were there to celebrate their big day.

Graduate Sarah Boston delivers the student speech at the morning Undergraduate Commencement ceremony.

Graduate Sarah Boston delivers the student speech at the morning Undergraduate Commencement ceremony. Fellow graduate Nicole Morino delivered the student speech at the afternoon ceremony. The two earned the honor of addressing their fellow graduates through a competition hosted by OHIO’s Division of Student Affairs.

(From left) Friends Danielle Valaitis and Kate Pellegrini pose for a photo following their Undergraduate Commencement.

(From left) Friends Danielle Valaitis and Kate Pellegrini pose for a photo following their Undergraduate Commencement.

Graduate Abby Miller is ready to celebrate with her family following her Undergraduate Commencement.

Graduate Abby Miller is ready to celebrate with her family following her Undergraduate Commencement.

Graduates reflect on the big day, memories made

Ohio University Communications and Marketing asked members of the Class of 2017 to share some thoughts on what Commencement meant to them, their favorite OHIO memories and their future plans.

Azaree Whitehead of Holland, Ohio, was graduating with a degree in dance and said she was thankful for all of the OHIO faculty she worked with over the past four years. “Today is pretty special because my older sister graduated from here four years ago as well, also with a degree in dance,” Whitehead said. “So I kind of feel like I’m continuing the legacy.” Whitehead shared that her favorite OHIO memory was last year when renowned choreographer and MacArthur Fellow Kyle Abraham visited campus and Whitehead was able to participate in a reconstruction of his “Quiet Dance” piece. “The entire week was a memorable experience,” Whitehead said. “I’ll never forget it.” Whitehead double majored in dance and education. She will be completing her student teaching out of OHIO’s Lancaster Campus. 

“I am a first-generation student, so today is very emotional for my entire family,” said Kaylee Tomasek of Willowick, Ohio, who earned a degree in psychology. “I’m very excited to start my career and move forward in life.” Tomasek recalled traveling to the Athens Campus for student orientation and becoming car sick. “The whole thing was just really funny, and it’s strange to think back on it now because that was so long ago.” Tomasek will be working at an afterschool program and plans on returning to OHIO in the fall of 2018 to pursue a master’s degree in child psychology.

“Today really is a big day for me because I studied here for almost five years, including one year for language,” said Shuyu Xiao, a media arts and studies graduate from Beijing, China. Xiao said her favorite memory was the day when she screened the film she had made. “We have a 419 program where we use one year to make a big film,” Xiao explained. “So that day was a big day for me and probably my most interesting day.” Xiao will be attending graduate school at the Savannah College for Art and Design where she will be studying film production.

“Today is very important to me,” said Emma Kruis of Cincinnati, Ohio, who graduated with a degree in psychology. “It is so exciting to see what is going to come next.” Kruis recalled a photo her father took of her in front of Alden Library during Bobcat Student Orientation, noting that it was one of her favorite photos and that she would send that photo to her father whenever he emailed or texted her. Kruis is moving to Miami, Florida, to intern with renowned child psychologist Dr. William E. Pelham Jr. 

“Today means a lot – success, a bright future and making my family proud,” said Aaron Porter of Shaker Heights, Ohio, who earned a degree in industrial and systems engineering. Porter said he plans to travel the world and that his favorite OHIO memory was: “Graduating!”

“Today is the end of a lot of stress,” said Derricka Bruce of Dayton, Ohio, who graduated with a degree in biological sciences. “I’m really excited, feel a sense of accomplishment and am proud, but it’s scary, too, not knowing what the future holds.” Bruce said her favorite OHIO memory was attending the Student Involvement Fair her freshman year. She will be working in prevention education at Wright State University while pursuing a master’s degree in public health.

“All of the sleepless nights and stressful hours are definitely worth it,” said Kyle Arnott of Richfield, Ohio, who earned a degree in music production. “I mean, I had a pretty good time. It wasn’t all hard, but everything I poured into it – you know, the time and effort – just kind of culminated, and it’s really nice for it all to add up to this.” Arnott noted his favorite OHIO memory: On the field performing with the Marching 110. “That’s why I came here, that’s why I fell so in love with this place, and if there was anything that encapsulated my Ohio University experience, it was any time with the 110.” Arnott is waiting to hear back on a couple of full-time audio work gigs and hopes to be working in Columbus, Ohio.

“Today is super important to me and my family. This is a major accomplishment for me,” said Mariah Kasler of Amesville, Ohio, who graduated with a degree in early childhood education. Kasler said she transferred to OHIO from Ohio State University and has enjoyed living in Athens with a best friend she’s had since she was 3 years old. Kasler will be finishing up an internship this summer and plans on remaining in the Athens County area, working at a local elementary school and raising a family.

“Today means I beat my sister,” exclaimed Ellenore Holbrook of Canton, Ohio, who earned a degree in political science through OHIO’s Honors Tutorial College. “I am summa cum laude, and she was only magna cum laude. It also means having to say goodbye, which is not fun.” Holbrook said her favorite memory was being awarded senator emeritus status, a designation given in recognition of student senators who go above and beyond. Holbrook is enrolled in the Master of Public Administration Program at OHIO’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. “I have already started the program, so I will have my second degree in a year.”