Snowfall and increased traffic did little to hamper the spirits attending Ohio State’s 394th commencement Sunday, as graduates got a message about difficult times and hope.
About 1,666 of the 2,193 graduates and more than 15,000 guests packed the stands in the Schottenstein Center to celebrate the occasion, said Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president for Student Life.
“It’s almost unreal,” said Della Carver, a fourth-year who graduated with a bachelor’s of arts in English. “It’s been a long time coming. It’s kind of exciting and sad at the same time.”
The ceremony began at 2 p.m., the same time the OSU men’s basketball team tipped off against Western Carolina in St. John Arena. Despite several university warnings, the increased traffic had little impact on commencement.
The ceremony opened with a welcome from Adams-Gaston, who lauded the class for its diversity and promised graduates they will be “change-makers” as they go into the world.
OSU President E. Gordon Gee echoed Adams-Gaston’s sentiment and said the class would go on to correct many of the mistakes his own generation had made.
“We ignored the wisdom of the past,” Gee said. “The world needs you now more than ever. These are, without question, challenging times.”
Commencement Speaker David Tomasko, professor and associate dean with the College of Engineering, supplemented the warnings of difficulties ahead but also expressed a message of hope.
“Along the way, you will find that the difficult times are the ones from which you will learn the most,” Tomasko said. “With that in mind, I wish for you some difficulties that will grow into perspective and eventually ripen into blessings.”
Tomasko drew his biggest wish for the graduates from a quote of Charlotte’s Web author E.B. White.
“‘I rise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it very difficult to plan the day,'” Tomasko quoted.
“So finally, I wish you a lifetime of difficulty in planning your day,” he said.
Gee left the graduating class with a simple message of high ambition and hard work, fitting into the motif of difficulties graduates would face and hopes they overcome them.
“Dream big,” he said. “If your dreams turn to dust, vacuum and begin again.”