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Ohio State Summer Commencement celebrates 1,700 new alumni

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With summer coming to an end, Ohio State welcomed nearly 2,000 graduates to the expansive pool of alumni during the Summer Commencement on Sunday, but despite being smaller than the Spring Commencement four months ago, the emotional impact of graduating remained.

Andrea Fitzgerald, who now holds a Master of Arts after the event, celebrated her undergraduate commencement in the spring of 2013, but she said she liked the smaller scale of Summer Commencement because she could find her friends more easily.

“(Summer Commencement) just felt more personal because it was smaller, so it was really nice,” she said. “Spring Commencement is an event all in itself. It’s big and there’s 10,000 graduates, but this is just more intimate.”

The Schottenstein Center was filled with the family and friends of about 1,200 graduates, but a total of 1,717 degrees and certificates were awarded for the summer term.

Of the degrees earned, 287 were doctorate degrees and 422 were master’s degrees. Of the 997 bachelor’s degrees, the most came from the College of the Arts and Sciences with more than 590 graduates, according to the program for the ceremony.

Bruce McPheron, vice president for agricultural administration and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, was the commencement speaker.

“Dr. McPheron has been praised for his ability to connect with the farmer in the field as well as the scientist in the laboratory,” said OSU President Michael Drake when introducing the speaker.

McPheron is an OSU alumnus who graduated in the same class as two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, and he introduced himself as “a Buckeye and … a bug guy.”

During his speech, he showed a clear respect and admiration for OSU, calling it “an incredibly productive engine of innovation.”

“Whether we think of extraordinary new works of art or foods that can help prevent cancer, whether it’s an analysis of a key event of history or a new battery technology to store solar energy, Ohio State is a powerhouse,” McPheron, an internationally recognized entomology researcher, said.

The entomologist reminded the graduates that their time at the university wasn’t limited to their time in the classroom, making the point by asking them to raise their hands or shout, “O-H,” if they participated in student organizations, studied abroad, participated in research or did other auxiliary activities.

“When you accept your diploma, you become a part of a history of this great institution,” McPheron said to end his address to the newest group of OSU alumni. “My charge to you is to commit to being part of its future.”

McPheron’s address seemed to resonate with many of the graduates who attended the ceremony.

“I really enjoyed the commencement speaker,” said Arthur Hilson, who earned his bachelor’s degree in computer information science at the ceremony. “I think he was very good. He said some things that I’ll remember and maybe think about.”

Also during the 410th OSU commencement, Columbus Urban League President and CEO Stephanie Hightower was awarded the Distinguished Service Award for her contributions to family advocacy and supporting education opportunities in Columbus.

The former Olympian and OSU alumna serves as the first female president of the CUL, a 97-year-old organization that works “to empower African Americans and disenfranchised groups through economic, educational and social progress,” according to its website.

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