Approximately 2,000 Eastern Michigan University students were awarded degrees at the graduation ceremony at EMU’s Convocation Center on Sunday.
Roy Wilbanks, outgoing chair of the EMU Board of Regents, welcomed and congratulated the graduates. He also asked for a moment of silence for EMU student Julia Niswender and the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut.
Presiding over the ceremony was EMU President Susan Martin.
Martin applauded the graduates for their “perseverance, combined with an outstanding education,” which she said would allow them to hit the ground running.
The commencement speaker was Howdy Holmes, former racecar driver and president and CEO of the Chelsea Milling Company, makers of the Jiffy Mix line.
Holmes’ family history at EMU began with his grandmother, who earned a degree from the university 103 years ago. Holmes attended EMU before leaving school during his senior year to pursue his dream of racing.
“Chase your dreams, and don’t you ever give up,” Holmes said to the graduates. “Don’t be afraid to dream, don’t be afraid of failure and don’t be afraid of yourself.”
EMU Student Body President Matthew Norfleet also addressed the graduates.
“With less than one week until the Mayan calendar ends, I’d like to be the first of your peers, and potentially one of the last, to congratulate you, class of 2012,” Norfleet said. “You are, and will forever be, Eastern Michigan University.”
Norfleet also encouraged the graduates to embrace the unexpected.
After all the degrees were awarded, Martin assured the new alumni they would always have a place at EMU.
“Remember, you are always part of the Eastern family,” Martin said. “We love you and we will welcome you home as often as you can make it back.”