WVU Tech celebrates 115th commencement
“Will the candidates for degrees please rise,” said Garth Thomas, looking out at the gymnasium floor of the Neal D. Baisi Athletic Center as a crowd of students stood to become alumni of the West Virginia University Institute of Technology.
“President [Carolyn] Long, I present to you the candidates for degrees for the West Virginia University Institute of Technology,” said Thomas, the associate provost for the school, as a crowd of parents, friends and family members cheered.
WVU Tech held its 115th commencement ceremony on Saturday. More than 200 students crossed the stage to claim their degrees in computer science, engineering, mathematics, criminal justice, accounting, nursing or another of the more than 30 undergraduate majors offered by the college.
The faculty also recognized 10 alumni of the WVU Tech class of 1964 for the 50th anniversary of their graduation. The Golden Alumni recognized at Saturday’s ceremony included Lawrence Canterbury, Charles Divita, Jr., Richard Fewell, Frank Gilmore, Merlon Lyle Howell, Sandy Huddleston, James Tracy Kelley, Roger “Pete” Kelley, Warren Dorsey Perrine and Gary Keith Spangler.
“Today, we also celebrate and recognize the 50 years of professional and personal distinction they have received since graduating from their alma mater,” said Stephen Claywell, president of the Tech Golden Bear Alumni Association.
The commencement speaker for Saturday’s event, James Estep, was a 1989 graduate of Tech and currently serves as the president and CEO of the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation. According to Estep, the experience WVU Tech provides its students is just as valuable as the knowledge they gain in an academic setting.
“In general, I think we’re definitely different people when we finish college, regardless our personal circumstances,” Estep said. “Whether you get it right now or not, you are indeed a different person — you’re a more complete person. You are now prepared to do truly remarkable things.”
Estep, whose father was diagnosed with cancer just before he entered college, said that despite personal struggles, each graduate now has the skills to enter the world and pursue their dreams, and their experience at Tech will help them to succeed.
“With the right amount of hard work and a little luck, it is not an overstatement to say that you truly have the potential to change the world,” he said.
E. Gordon Gee, the president of WVU, was also present at Saturday’s commencement, and said more than 35 years of commencement speaking had given him some wisdom to impart on the class of 2014.
“Never wear flip flops to a job interview,” Gee joked.
Gee cited the school’s motto, “infinite possibilities,” and said that graduates should expect their hard work to pay off with opportunity, whether it be graduate school, the military or the workplace.
“Now, it is up to you,” Gee said. “Whether you are preparing to further your education or launch your career, go as far as your dreams will take you.”
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