In the 398th commencement at Ohio State, commencement speaker Cheryl L. Krueger urged graduates to “see the invisible.”
Krueger, founder of the multimillion-dollar gourmet cookie corporation, Cheryl & Co., addressed the recipients of 2,332 degrees and certificates in the Jerome Schottenstein Center at 2 p.m. on Dec. 11.
Though Krueger received her degree from Bowling Green State University, she has ties to OSU, having worked under Leslie Wexner at Limited Brands before becoming an entrepreneur and opening up her own business.
Krueger’s message for the graduates was for them to see the invisible, meaning that there are limitless opportunities for innovation if they are put forth the effort.
“Those individuals willing to think outside the box are game changers,” Krueger said.
Showing her humorous and realistic side, Krueger shared an anecdote from the beginning of her cookie business in which her company got airlines to put her cookies in the barf bags in the seats.
Krueger said the slogan on the bag was, “If you’re going to toss your cookies, toss the very best.”
Krueger cited many great thinkers with whom the audience was familiar, including Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc. and Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s. Like herself, she said they took something ordinary and made it more appealing to the customer.
“‘Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice,'” Krueger said, quoting Jobs.
In closing, Krueger reemphasized the importance of being original.
“Find your invisible and do the impossible and do it with passion and intensity,” Krueger said.
Before Krueger spoke, OSU President E. Gordon Gee addressed the graduates and the audience in the Schott, which filled the lower bowl and about half of the upper deck, and said that it was his 46th commencement.
“Now that is a huge number. With four more, I’m eligible for free fries at McDonald’s,” Gee said, earning a few laughs.
About 2,100 graduates sat patiently in folding chairs before they processed onstage to receive their degrees. Many graduates decorated their caps so that family and friends would be able to find them.
Parents, Tammy Hinkle-Moore and Allan Moore Sr., spotted their son, Allan “Derek” Hinkle-Moore II, with blinking lights on his cap before he processed on stage to claim his bachelor’s degree in communication.
“He’s the first person in his family to ever graduate from Ohio State,” Tammy Hinkle-Moore said. “I’m very proud. He’s worked very hard.”
M.J. Vukadin, a 2010 graduate of OSU, attended to watch her brother, Aleksander Vukadin graduate cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English.
“This is the first OSU graduation ceremony I’ve gone to. I didn’t even go to my own,” M.J. Vukadin said. “President Gee was funny and on point, as always, and Cheryl (Krueger)’s speech was very inspirational.”
Kuldeep Agarwal received one of the 153 doctoral degrees and had the honor of having his name called by Joseph A. Alutto, executive vice president and provost. Agarwal graduated with a doctorate in industrial and systems engineering.
“It meant a lot to me. I am here with my family and friends and it’s just amazing,” Agarwal said.
The ceremony ended around 4:45 p.m. with the graduates linking arms as they swayed to the alma mater, Carmen Ohio.
“The scarlet and gray bond will continue for generations,” Gee said. “I am confident in saying that we are the university of the American dream.”