The Schottenstein Center hosted 885 of 1,538 graduates Sunday for Ohio State’s Summer Commencement, with Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, University President Michael Drake and the vice president for Student Life, Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston, addressing the graduates and attendees.
Of those graduating in the university’s 416th commencement, 277 received doctorate degrees, 400 received master’s degrees and 853 received undergraduate degrees and certificates. Archie Griffin, a two-time Heisman Trophy winner and the former president and CEO of Ohio State’s Alumni Association was awarded the Distinguished Service Award, as well.
Those graduating came from five continents and 54 countries including: Argentina, Hungary, Indonesia, Japan, South Africa, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.
Eighteen current and former student athletes received degrees, including former Ohio State football quarterback Cardale Jones, who walked at Spring Commencement but officially completed this degree this summer.
Fifty percent of degree recipients in the summer 2017 class are women, with 47 percent of undergraduate degrees given to women.
During her Commencement Address, Beatty spoke on behalf of the women in the crowd, focusing on the pivotal success of females for a successful America.
“Here I am standing here today as the first female Democrat House leader in Ohio’s history,” Beatty said, with a loud applause from the crowd. “The first female to serve as senior vice president right here at The Ohio State University.”
She said while serving as a congresswoman, she was asked to look over former President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address along with a select group of politicians.
When the group got together to review the speech, she said many around the table quickly finished their review, but she could not because there needed to be something more about women in America.
As you move forward, it is not necessary to know the entire route you will take because most of us, the trail is illuminated only one step at a time. – Joyce Beatty
“So I said, ‘I think the president should put in his speech: “When women succeed, America succeeds.” And then there was silence,” Beatty said. “So what did I do? I said it again, a little louder and with attitude and I even had the courage to add some words to it.”
Though her edit was made clear, she was unsure it would be made until the night of the speech.
As she stood on the House floor, she said she heard someone call for her, and she was shown the speech.
“At the top of page seven, the President of the United States said before the nation, “When women succeed, America succeeds,” Beatty said.
She urged those in attendance to support not just women, but themselves in particular in the next journey after commencement, though they need not know exactly how that journey will pan out.
“As you move forward, it is not necessary to know the entire route you will take because most of us, the trail is illuminated only one step at a time,” Beatty said. “You may be concerned if you don’t have a job yet, but be more concerned if you at least haven’t had a vision to be somewhere on your path.”
She said this graduating class represents a new generation; one of ideals of the past, but a commitment and confidence to the future.
“You stand at a magnificent moment with the ability to unleash an amazing amount of imagination, courage, talent and Buckeye spirit,” Beatty said.
She urged the graduating class to stand up for issues such as family leave, equal pay, science, arts and humanities, “to ensure all americans, no matter what they look like of their zip code, are treated fairly with dignity and respect.”
“Soon you will be handed a degree, but no one can ever hand you courage. So move forward with courage,” Beatty said.
Drake continued on with a message of self-empowerment, specifically that which comes from making the right decisions.
“Before you make a decision, refer to your inner compass, and then you will know what to do because you will know what is right to do,” Drake said. “Use yourself as a guide to make good decisions. Good decisions lead to good places like where you are today, right at this moment.”
He said with these decisions comes the need to welcome new information.
“We may not always agree, but we always agree it is important to protect the freedom of sharing ideas,” he said.
To end his speech, Drake again quoted and paid homage to the late John Glenn, as he did for Spring Commencement.
“Congratulations, class of 2017,” he said. “God Speed.”