BOONE—A sea of black robes, mortar boards and gold tassels filled Appalachian State University’s Holmes Convocation Center for commencement ceremonies held May 8-10 on campus.
A total of 2,376 undergraduates and 289 graduates were candidates for the May graduation ceremonies. In addition, students who will complete their degree requirements this summer were invited to participate in the ceremonies.
“Today, you leave Appalachian prepared to make real and powerful differences in your communities and beyond,” Chancellor Sheri N. Everts told graduates of the Cratis D. Williams School of Graduate Studies Friday, May 8. “You leave strengthened, prepared and energized by the relationships you developed with the faculty and staff who served as teachers, fellow researchers, mentors and role models. You move forward from this transformational journey having been supported by family, fellow students and friends, and you will never forget how important they were in this journey.
“As you move on to new challenges and aspirations, remember you will forever be a part of this great university and you are our most powerful and enduring legacy. Go out into the world and live our university motto – Esse Quam Videri – to be rather than to seem. I congratulate you on your achievement and I am heartened for our community, state, nation and world by the promise you take forward into a future made all the brighter because of you.”
Students provided the keynote addresses this year, beginning with the ceremony the graduate school. Speakers were Mason Calhoun from Hopewell Township Pennsylvania, who received a Master of Science degree in exercise science, and Brittany Means from Charleston, West Virginia, who received a Master of Arts degree in Appalachian studies.
Calhoun spoke of growing from his failures while being pushed outside of his comfort zone. “These lessons of perseverance, of seeking out areas of growth in our careers and everyday lives, that is the true value of a graduate degree,” he said.
A first-generation college graduate, Means reminded graduates to always remember their roots as they begin their careers. “These roots will anchor you and guide you through the rest of your educational and professional lives,” she said. Means spoke of family members who counseled her and teachers who believed in her. “It is their combined hard work that allows me to stand here and talk to all of you—you, who are the sums of those who love you, too,” she said.
Ceremonies were held Saturday, May 9, for the College of Fine and Applied Arts, Hayes School of Music and the College of Arts and Sciences. One of the four speakers for the College of Arts and Sciences was Honduran native Erlan Martinez-Castro who spoke of his transformation as a student in the U.S. and at Appalachian.
“I came in here not knowing proper English and not even being able to raise my hand to ask a question in a class since I was so shy,” he said. “Now, thanks to the confidence ASU has given me, I am standing here thanking everyone who helped me achieve this goal and being able to say that I am an alumnus of the chemistry department from a very special and diverse university in the mountains of North Carolina.”
Degrees were awarded May 10 for graduates of the Reich College of Education, Donald C. Beaver College of Health Sciences and Walker College of Business.
Devon Patton of Charlotte was one of three graduating students who spoke during the Reich College of Education Ceremony. “The profession we are adopting is difficult and under-appreciated, but it is rewarding, impactful and essential,” said Patton, who earned a degree in special education. “Educators literally teach the next generation. I am honored to be graduating with such a bright group of individuals who will not only change the world themselves, but who will also change the world though the children they teach, both the ones who learn easily, and the ones who need more attention.”
Karson Collins of Cornelius, who earned a degree in communication disorders, was one of two graduating students elected to speak during the Donald C. Beaver College of Health Sciences graduation ceremony.
“During our time at Appalachian, we have found a home where we have been challenged and learned the importance of these traits in a supportive environment,” she said. We have learned lessons that will make us productive members of the work force, and even better members of the global community. In order for ASU’s legacy to continue, we must take the instruction we learned from our time here, and apply it as we leave here because our Appalachian family has prepared us for the future.”
Three graduating students were selected to speak at the Walker College of Business ceremony. Management and entrepreneurship graduate Ryan Sommerville of Raleigh said graduation was a milestone and forces graduates “to think not just about the moment, not just about what it took to get here, but more importantly- who enabled us to get here,” he said. “It’s about recognizing how fortunate we have been, about how much others have invested in us, the excitement and opportunities ahead and the responsibility and obligation we have going forward.”
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.