For thousands of University of Toledo students, Sunday’s graduation was only the beginning.
About three years ago, Alysha Hill met Patrick Cook in a Shakespeare class. The two Toledoans, who graduated Sunday — she with a master’s degree in English, he with a bachelor’s degree, his second, in creative writing — will marry.
PHOTO GALLERY: University of Toledo graduation
“We are big book nerds,” said Miss Hill, 24, who has taught English composition at the university for two years and will continue with the new academic year.
Mr. Cook, 27, writes science-fiction and fantasy books and is looking to have his works published, Miss Hill said.
Their wedding at The Chalet at Oakshade Grove in Oregon is appropriately book-themed. For the past year, Miss Hill has crafted flowers out of book pages from 20 novels; their centerpieces will be stacks of books, she said.
With the end of the academic year at UT, 3,041 students were eligible for degrees.
The university hosted two commencement ceremonies Sunday, each targeting specific colleges — the first with a keynote speech from Sandra Pianalto, the president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
Ms. Pianalto told the graduates and spectators in a packed Savage Arena that, although countless studies show that, on average, college graduates earn more money than nongraduates, the real value is in how the graduates use their degrees to improve their lives and the lives of others around them.
Ms. Pianalto, who emigrated with her parents from Italy when she was 5 years old, studied both at the University of Akron and George Washington University.
During the commencement speech, Ms. Pianalto offered her “rules of the road to success.”
The first, she said, is to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
Immigrating to America was a good test of that for her family.
“Look for opportunities that take you outside of your comfort zone,” she said.
The second rule: “There is no substitute for hard work,” she said, reminding students that even the people who are the best in their field had to work for it.
Third, “know your strengths and your passions.”
As a third-grade student, Ms. Pianalto helped her parents study for their citizenship tests, developing a passion for and interest in government. From then, she knew she wanted to someday work in Washington.
Not everyone has a lifelong plan, she said.
“It’s OK to not know what you want to do.”
She advised the graduates to first figure out what they are good at and then decide what they like to do.
“By playing to your strengths, you set yourself up for success,” she said.
Her fourth rule is simple: To get respect, you must give respect.
The afternoon commencement address was delivered by Jeffrey Wadsworth, president and chief executive officer of Battelle Memorial Institute, the world’s largest nonprofit research and development organization.
Abdurrahman Mustapha, 22, said graduation was “awesome. I've waited a long time for that.”
The Toledoan, who graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English, said he plans to attend law school in the fall, either at Florida State University or Howard University.
While he’s in law school, he said he will apply to medical school. It would only add on another three years, he said.
“It’s a long road,” Mr. Mustapha said.
Only the beginning.
Contact Taylor Dungjen at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @taylordungjen.