There was plenty to celebrate at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) Saturday, Dec. 15, as the graduating class of fall 2018 proceeded with commencements at the Convocation Center.
Nearly 1700 students, including 1,303 undergraduates, 374 graduate students, and 16 doctoral candidates, gathered at the Convocation Center at 9:30 a.m. to receive their hard-earned degrees. The seats around them were completely filled with friends and family. After a performance of the national anthem by music performance graduate Kelsey Tate, university president James Smith welcomed and congratulated the students.
“Graduates - today’s ceremony is more than just a celebration,” Smith said. “It is a time when you are being honored for a major accomplishment: earning an Eastern Michigan degree that is nationally recognized for academic excellence...your faculty, staff, and I are exceptionally proud of your achievements.”
Keynote speaker Frank Sickelsmith - the global director of brand development and strategic partnerships for Autogrill Group SpA - gave a speech to students after the initial welcome.
“I have traveled all over the world, and I can safely tell you that there’s nobody better - no people better - than the people in the midwest and today there’s no people better than the people here at EMU,” he said. “You have great students, great faculty, and it’s just an honor to be here.”
Sickelsmith was a graduate of EMU, having earned a B.A. in interdisciplinary studies with a focus on French, international relations, and advertising. He detailed four pieces of advice for students to follow on their journeys beyond college life.
“You only have one life so remember to take opportunities when they come; they may be perfect, but you can make them perfect,” he said. “Tell people what you want - you got to tell people what your career goals are or else they may forget - develop sincere relationships that will guide that are going to guide your life, take risks and push your comfort level, and when that wave comes, be fabulous, be crazy, be a little stupid, it’s okay - you got it.”
Students were recognized in the order of doctorates, graduate degrees, honors students, military graduates, and finally B.A. graduates. Forty military veterans graduated with the 2018 class, with audience members who once served asked to stand for recognition. After all graduates were recognized, president Smith asked all students to turn their tassels from right to left to signify their completed graduation.
Families met with students outside the Convocation Center when the ceremony ended around 11:30 a.m. The Echo reached out to newly graduated students for reactions to their earned degrees.
Majida Elkadri, earning her B.A. in social work, wishes to continue her schooling to get her master’s and become a clinical therapist. She plans on staying in Michigan for her career, and urges students to continue their degrees and seek them out if they’re still deciding.
“I’ve gone through a lot of struggles working on my degree, I’ve gone through losing a lot of family members, I’ve gone through deaths I’ve gone through a lot of different stresses,” she said. “Keep on going, keep on fighting - it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get there as long as you get there.”
Travis Blevins, a B.A. in product design and development engineering, already has a job lined up as a designer for General Motors after completing two summer internships with them. He extended similar advice to student.
“Keep your head down and keep pushing - I work with high schoolers in my current job and I always tell them ‘you may not want to go to college now but it will pay off in the end,’” he said. “Not just money wise - it will pay off by feeling like you’ve accomplished something further than high school.”
The fall semester for EMU ends for current students on Dec. 18, with the winter semester beginning Jan. 7, 2019.