Graduates move their tassels to the left side of their caps at the 279th commencement at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green. A total of 2,260 degrees were awarded to the class of 2014.
BOWLING GREEN — When streaming video on a big screen showed soon-to-be Bowling Green State University graduate Jacqueline Elliott walking toward her seat, her family freaked out.
Rodney Rogers, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, introduces guest speaker Brenda Hollis during the BGSU commencement. Ms. Hollis is the prosecutor of the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone.
They whooped and clapped, and waved frantically at the 21-year-old Detroit native, who finished with her four-year broadcast-journalism degree. Ms. Elliott is a graduate of Renaissance High School in Detroit.
“I didn’t think I’d be this emotional,” said Ms. Elliott’s mother, Lacretia Elliott, whose face was covered in tears. “She’s got a promising future.”
Ms. Elliott was one of several hundred students from the university’s College of Arts and Sciences and the Firelands Campus who graduated Saturday morning in the second of three BGSU graduation ceremonies.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here for more photos from commencement
A second Saturday ceremony was hosted at 2 p.m. for the College of Business Administration and the College of Education and Human Development. On Friday night, students in the Graduate College, College of Health and Human Services, College of Musical Arts, and College of Technology, Architecture, and Applied Engineering were recognized in a graduation service.
Lauren Phillips, also known as mascot Frieda Falcon, receives her bachelor of arts degree.
A total of 2,260 degrees were conferred to the Bowling Green State University class of 2014. University President Mary Ellen Mazey said 19 percent of graduates were students of color, 62 percent were women, and the oldest student to receive a diploma was 79-year-old Dick Larabee.
When mentioned by President Mazey, Mr. Larabee received thunderous applause befitting the university’s Stroh Center.
Brenda Hollis, a 1968 Bowling Green graduate, was recognized with an honorary degree and was the ceremony’s keynote speaker.
“Last weekend when they said they were going to ‘hood me,’ I was a little bit worried because I thought they were also going to waterboard me,” Ms. Hollis said to open her commencement speech.
After graduating from Bowling Green, Ms. Hollis turned down a job with the CIA — she earned serious applause from the audience — and joined the Peace Corps. She went on to earn a law degree from the University of Denver and served more than 20 years in the Air Force. In February, the secretary-general of the United Nations appointed her as the prosecutor of the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone.
Her commencement speech, fewer than 9 minutes long, offered graduates a perspective on how her Bowling Green experience became a global one.
BGSU president Mary Ellen Mazey poses with graduate Dylan Burley as he takes a selfie.
While most students crossed the graduation stage quietly to collect their diplomas, at least one graduate had a slightly different idea of how he wanted to end his Bowling Green career.
With diploma in hand and a handshake from President Mazey ahead, Dylan Burley, 22, stopped and asked the president if she would take a photo with him.
“I feel like I put enough money into that school ... that I deserve to get a selfie with President Mazey,” said Mr. Burley, a Bluffton, Ohio, native who received a bachelor of arts degree in communications.
Mr. Burley said he’s looking forward to being done with school — at least for now — and looking for a job.
Job hunting is also up next for graduates Corrine Worden, 23, of Wapakoneta, Ohio, and Emily Short, 23, of Archbold, Ohio, who each received a bachelor of arts degree.
“It’s going to be exciting,” Ms. Short said.
“It’s surreal,” Ms. Worden added.