David ‘Chief’ Kekuewa wears his ‘puakenikeni’ and his ‘maile’ his parents brought to him from Hawaii as he graduates at Saturday’s commencement ceremonies at BGSU.
THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER
BOWLING GREEN — The chilly, incessant rainfall outside didn’t dampen the enthusiasm inside Bowling Green State University’s Stroh Center on Saturday where degrees were awarded, tassels turned from right to left, and smiles in large supply.
“I got it!” yelled one young woman as she waved her diploma in the air after shaking hands with BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey.
In ceremonies Friday night and Saturday morning, 1,042 diplomas were presented to graduates ranging in age from 18 to 66.
“I am so excited. I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time,” an elated Monica Marsh said as she processed into the basketball arena for commencement.
Ms. Marsh of nearby North Baltimore earned a degree in environmental health and — insert high-five — has a job lined up with Honda of America Manufacturing in Marysville, Ohio.
With her film degree in hand, Detroit native Ashley Edwards said she plans to go on to graduate school and hopes to become a creative producer.
“I had an excellent 4½ years here,” she said of BGSU. “It was wonderful. I recommend that everyone get involved on campus. It makes all the difference.”
Falcon football offensive lineman David “Chief” Kekuewa of Keaau, Hawaii, was adorned in two special gifts delivered by his parents — a lei of fresh orange flowers called a “puakenikeni” and a leafy green vine called a “maile.”
Mr. Kekuewa said that after the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl game Thursday he would be training for the National Football League draft. Though he earned a degree in environmental policy, he said he is more likely going into campus ministry with h2o Church if football doesn’t work out.
“I’m not going to be using my degree,” he said a bit apologetically.
Chances are, keynote speaker Robert Clasen, the retired chairman and chief executive of Starz LLC and a former president of Comcast Cable, wouldn’t have a problem with that.
Mr. Clasen, a BGSU alumnus, said he majored in history, then earned a master’s degree in counseling psychology before embarking on a long and successful career in cable television.
“What I discovered was that when I left Bowling Green, I was a pretty complete package,” he told the graduates. “In the admissions office here 40 years ago, I used to tell parents it isn’t what their kids study, it’s what they learn that’s important.”
Mr. Clasen said he learned leadership and management skills as president of his fraternity. He learned to listen in his counseling psychology classes. He learned how to work hard as a member of the Falcon track team, which practiced seven days a week.
He encouraged the graduates to reflect on their situations — now and as they go through life — and to embrace change.
“You need to be in the moment,” Mr. Clasen said. “As millennials, this should be easy for you, having grown up with screens in your pocket. But don’t get fooled. Not everything is important. Constant change requires constant evaluation of how and on what you spend your time.”
He encouraged them to make good decisions, keep their integrity, and, simply, be good.
“Wanting to be successful can test your character, but no matter what, your character is sacrosanct and may be the most important thing you’ll have left regardless of your success,” Mr. Clasen said.
Before degrees were handed out, Ms. Mazey recognized a handful of veterans and active service members among the graduates, as well as those who had been involved with public service during their tenure at BGSU. Nearly all of the graduates stood to be recognized for that, she said.
“It’s not just what you know, but what you do with what you know that matters,” Ms. Mazey said.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.