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Boehner, Gee offer advice to OSU graduates

Cody Cousino / Photo editor

As the largest graduating class in Ohio State history gathered in Ohio Stadium Sunday to receive their diplomas, they were met with cheers from family and friends and with advice from President E. Gordon Gee and Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner.

With the a high of 71 degrees and not a rain drop in sight, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect at the Spring Commencement ceremony where OSU awarded 9,700 degrees to graduates.

“All of these people, all of the families … it’s a glorious day. Being at commencement is one of the perks of being university president,” Gee said at the beginning of the ceremony.

Before the ceremony, the graduates assembled at the French Field House to line up for the processional into the stadium.

Jim Sutter and Pam Woodruff from Akron, Ohio, left for Columbus around 7 a.m. to beat the traffic and get to the stadium early.

They were not the only ones arriving early at commencement. Jim Lynch, spokesperson for OSU, said the crowd was among the largest he’s seen at a commencement ceremony, estimating about 55,000 in attendance.

It took the nearly 10,000 graduates a little more than 20 minutes to process into the stadium to take their seats.

Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president for Student Life, gave the opening remarks at the ceremony.

“It truly is a wonderful day at the Ohio State University,” said Adams-Gaston.

She welcomed the students and their families, and mentioned the work many parents put into sending their children to college.

Adams-Gaston thanked families for “turning pockets inside out and purses upside down.”

Gee then spoke and said that while close to 10,000 students are departing in different directions, there will always be a home for them at OSU.

“This is Ohio State, but the world is here today … We will always, always welcome you back,” he said.

Gee addressed the graduates and their families, noting that despite recent scandal surrounding OSU’s football program, the symbolism behind Ohio Stadium could not be tarnished.

“The history of this place is enduring and sustaining. Ohio Stadium stands today as it will ever more,” Gee said.

Gee then introduced Boehner, the keynote speaker. Boehner’s appearance sparked controversy within the OSU community when he was announced as the speaker in April.

Marissa Mishne, who received her degree in psychology, said graduating marks the end of an era for her, but she did not approve of the choice to bring Boehner as the keynote speaker.

“I don’t like him,” Mishne said. “I feel like (OSU) shouldn’t have chosen a political candidate because you can’t please everyone.”

Woodruff disagreed with Mishne. Woodruff said she was excited to hear Boehner speak and was interested in what he had to say.

Some welcomed Boehner to the podium with applause, but several expressed their disapproval by booing the Ohio politician.

Despite the disapproval, Boehner addressed the graduates. Boehner said there were three keys to success: hard work, humility and perseverance.

“There’s nothing in this world you can’t succeed at,” Boehner said.

Boehner also shared the importance of serving the community and being involved. He said his father volunteered four or five evenings each week and he learned from his father’s example.

“Life isn’t always about you,” Boehner said.

Boehner also offered several pieces of advice to the graduates.

“Think about who you want to be before you think about what you want to be,” Boehner said.

He said to remember that even though the days can be long, the years would go by quickly.

Boehner said the success he was experiencing now was not easy. The first time he ran for office, he realized it would be a struggle for people to know how to pronounce his name.

“My name looks like beaner, bonner, boner; thank God it’s not Weiner,” Boehner joked.

As Boehner suggested to the graduates to write a note of gratitude to the loved ones that guided them through college, he began to cry.

“No email, no Facebook message, and certainly no tweet,” Boehner said. “Just a pen and a piece of paper. Sit down and write a note to those that got you here.

“If you’re like me, don’t be afraid to shed a tear for the blessings that have come your way in life.”

After Boehner left the stage, Gee left the graduates with some final words of wisdom before they lined up to receive their diplomas and to depart from the stadium.

“Never wear flip-flops to a job interview … Do not use your MasterCard to pay your Visa bill … As of today everything that happens is no longer your parents’ fault … Remember your alma mater,” Gee said. “We will never forget you.”

Clarification: A previous version of the story said there were 30,000 people present at the Spring Commencement ceremony. In fact, that estimate was given before everyone was in the stadium. The final estimate was 55,000 people in attendance.

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