Fall 2020 Virtual Commencement: Haworth College of Business
(soft piano music) - My most memorable WMU experiences would be all of the fun times I had on campus, like going to Bronco Bash with my friends. And honestly, probably like late night study sessions at the library with my friends and ordering takeout at 2:00 a.m. - My most memorable WMU experience probably was the first time I even came to campus.
I was going around campus. Everyone was just so friendly and just saying hi, opening the door and just smiling, so it just automatically made me feel like this was my school and my campus. - I'll remember most of the friendships that I've made through Club Volleyball. I'm on the e-board, and we've really gotten this close knit set of girls together.
Everyone was there for each other. - What I'll remember most about WMU is going to the tailgates and really just hanging out with my friends. So I'm gonna really miss that like close friendship and that bondship that we really had here. - I would definitely say as a freshman, creating history and building a sense of community when we went 13 and 0. During the football season, I went to every home game.
They made me so proud to be a Bronco. - My most memorable part of being at Western would be getting my seaplane rating. It just takes me back home to the Virgin Islands where I get to see the water once again, and being able to share that with my best friend and my favorite instructor. It was such a blessing.
- Through Western, I was able to connect with all the local deaf community. I was able to meet some of the most amazing people, and make some great friends. - [Student] Ooh, (laughs) I don't think any of us were prepared for COVID, but I think it made us all come together and realize like, how important human connection is. - Looking back it'll be my people. So when you come to Western, you're gonna have a lot of different friend groups, you're gonna join a lot of different organizations, but once you find your family and your people, those are the things that stick with you even after graduation, and then the memories that you make with those people are what you'll always be able to look back on. - [Student] Now, when I came to Western, it just felt so perfect.
It felt like family. I'll remember all the Broncos around me. You know, whether I met you in the dining hall or during WSA, or in one of my business classes, you know, I'll just remember the people at Western Michigan University, and that's what you'll know is so special about this college. (soft violin music) - Hello, Broncos I'm Edward Montgomery, and it is my great honor to serve as the ninth president of Western Michigan University. Let me start with a heartfelt congratulations on your graduation. Each and every one of you entered college sometime ago with plenty of ideas and dreams and plans for the future.
You dove into the WMU experience, picking up bucket loads of swag each fall at Bronco Bash, and loyally cheering on our Bronco teams in the warmth of September and in the freezing cold of February. Your time here probably included participating in one or more registered student organizations. Maybe you were fortunate enough to go on a study abroad adventure, or closer to home, you became an expert at finding fun in Kalamazoo's arts and culture scene. Between work and school and internships, and study groups and office hours and advisor meetings, and all the myriad other things that go into a great college experience, I hope that you made friends and discovered what inspires you to jump out of bed every morning and motivates you to work a little bit longer every night.
Mark Twain once said, "The two most important days in your life are the day that you are born and the day you find out why." If you didn't already know your, why, my greatest hope is that you discovered it at your time at Western Michigan University. Much of your college experience was pretty similar to that of those who came before you. A blend of academic and social and career development, maybe some more social. And finally a homing in on that brass ring, your diploma. But then, as you neared the end of your experience, your journey suddenly changed.
Everyone's daily journey change. Classes changed. Indeed, life changed. And as we were all working to sort out how we would each navigate life, you persevered, you pushed through and you made it to today.
As president John F. Kennedy told us, "No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings." I firmly believe that history will someday hold up the members of the class of 2020 as exemplars of determination and grit and fortitude by keeping your sights fixed on that goal, the diploma you are now earning.
You have clearly demonstrated that once Broncos find their purpose, they are unstoppable. We are all awed by your ability to maintain your dedication and finish your degrees, even in the midst of a global pandemic. Now back in 2016, or whenever you first entered college, you might well have predicted that you could be graduating in 2020, but that doubt that any of us would have foreseen the other events of this year.
Today, we recognize the 1,059 of you who have completed the requirements set forth towards attaining your bachelor's degree. Another 314 will receive master's degree. One person will earn a specialist designation, and we're extremely proud of the 30 doctoral degree recipients.
This is the day you've been waiting for. Wherever you are, whenever you're watching this presentation, please know that everyone at your Alma mater is immensely proud of you. It's true that we celebrate all of our graduates, but for those of you earning your diploma now, you are truly exceptional.
You didn't let the disruptions of 2020 take you off course, and you understand that handling setbacks is an important life skill. "Well, you must be willing to let go of life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us." Novelist E.M. Forster said. I wish you nothing less than the absolute best and that life that is waiting for you. Now, wherever life takes you, know that you are part of the WMU community.
No one can take away the experience that you built here, the relationships that you forge. You are now a part of a 250,000 member alumni family that reaches across the globe and into nearly every nation. Never hesitate to reach out to your fellow Broncos for help and guidance, and then pay that support back by offering the same assistance to others. As you went through WMU, you built a network of support across the institution. There were the faculty who taught you, the mentors who gave you advice and guidance, the advisors who suggested courses, employers who gave you a chance to hone valuable skills, maybe you did an internship, a practicum, a co op. Your network widened there.
Maybe there was someone in your residence hall who greeted you every day with a smile and asked how that chem lab went. The RSO advisors, the SRC class instructors, the dining hall server, who made sure you got that little extra slice of pizza. Your support system also made a difference for you. Away from campus, your families, friends and significant others reminded you of the big picture and the possibilities that lay ahead for you.
Think about reaching out to those who have helped you get to this day. That might be someone who you have not seen or spoken to for some time. Don't leave your college experience behind without taking time to thank those who helped you keep moving, who reminded you of your purpose. As a physician and philosopher, Albert Schweitzer noted, "At times our own light goes out and it is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has caused to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." you're entering the next phase of your lives in a truly challenging time.
But if there's one thing of which I'm convinced, it is that you are prepared for whatever comes next in your life. You're ready to make and set new goals, you're equipped to face uncertainty, to find a way for yourselves, and just as importantly, to become an example and help others along the way as you can. The late representative in civil rights icon, John Lewis said something that resonates with me today. "We must be headlights and not tail lights." You as WMU alumni will illuminate what's ahead with your excellence that you've demonstrated on your way to graduation. I have no doubt that you will use the knowledge that you have gained on our campus, and along with your creativity, ingenuity and grit, show the world exactly what Broncos are capable of doing.
Western Michigan University class of 2020, please accept your Alma mater sincerest congratulations on your graduation, and our immense respect for your accomplishment. We know that you're going to make us proud, because, in fact you already have. Go Broncos. - Congratulations graduates. As the WMU Alumni Association Board President, I want to welcome each of you to the Alumni Association. I know that your graduation celebration may not have been what you or anyone imagined, but the memories you've made, the relationships you've built, and the skills you've learned these past few years will be yours forever.
As of today, you are now part of a community of over 250,000 Broncos, who call WMU their Alma mater. So wherever life may end up taking you, whether near or far from Kalamazoo, we wanna make sure that you can count on the Alumni Association to be with you every step of the way. With Broncos in all 50 states and in over 100 countries around the world, you will never be far from your alumni family. Once again, on behalf of the WMU Alumni Association, I congratulate you and wish you all the very best in your next chapter in life.
Congratulations and go Broncos. - My name is Gabriel Giron. I am the executive director and co-founder of Speak it Forward Incorporated, as well as one half of the poetic spoken word duo, Kinetic Affect. Because of WMU, I was able to grow in ways I never thought possible. As a member of the Lee Honors College, I was allowed to do my final thesis in whatever field that I wanted, And so I ended up putting on a full-on production theater show as my final project. I was continuously encouraged to pursue my passions, which allowed me to do what I do now, both as a performer and speaker, but also as a proud member of Kalamazoo and someone who gives back to the community at every chance that I can.
- I'm Keith Thompson, I'm the Chief Meteorologist at News Channel 3 in Kalamazoo. I went to grad school at Western, and I had already been in my field for several years, but I wanted a little bit more backing, a little bit more standing. Because of WMU, I feel like my work and my experience in television is so much more well-rounded and well-grounded.
I feel like it adds so much more to my job, my occupation. - My name is Shawn Markovich-Fields. I am a registered nurse, who also owns a maternal infant health program called Twenty Hands. We work with pregnant women and babies. We are here to help reduce infant mortality in the counties that we live in.
I started this work in my home. It just took off from there. We served one county when we started, and we have actually served over 1,800 women since I started this program. And the education that I received was phenomenal. And the professors that I had and the mentors that I had are still part of who I am today, even my friendships.
Because of WMU, I'm doing the work that I love, that I'm passionate about, and I'm completely blessed to have that opportunity. - My name is Randall Rochon. I'm a pilot for United Airlines, flying the Boeing 757, 767 airplanes.
I truly cannot tell you how happy, blessed, just wonderful how that experience was for me at Western. Western helped me get to where I am today. If it was not for Western and the opportunity that I gained at Western, I'm not sure where I would be today. Western aviation program is a prestige program. I can honestly say probably about 85% to 90% of us that I went to school with, we're all working somewhere that we enjoy right now. Throughout this whole journey, I've always given back to Western because of what Western has done for me.
They're my Alma mater, and I'm proud to be a Bronco. - My name is Lisa Marie Johnson-Williams. I'm an education administrator. My journey actually started at Western. Fortunately and unfortunately I became a teen mom. When I first got to campus, everything that we owned fit into one garbage bag.
What Western did for me was it opened that door for me to become who I wanted to become. You show a girl, a black girl from Detroit, a single mother with a son that she could soar to higher heights, she could become successful despite the (mumbles) despite all the circumstances that were stacked against me. I mean, I just feel like Western is just this magical place where all of your dreams can come true. I'm just so grateful and appreciative of those opportunities that I wouldn't have known existed had I not come to Western.
- My name is Antonio Neves. I am the author of, "Stop Living on Autopilot." I travel all across the country and I travel all across the globe, and work with major organizations like Google, like Amazon. I'm a first generation college student. I did not know what to expect when I landed on campus that first semester.
Cause I remember when I first walked into the Haworth College of Business, it made me walk taller, it made me feel like that I could be someone, but most importantly, what it did for this first generation college student, was that it helped me slowly but surely build my confidence. It helped me realize I could compete on any scale. And before I knew it, I was like, no, I'm good to go.
I'm a Bronco. I went to Western Michigan University. I can succeed in Kalamazoo, but I can also succeed in New York city and beyond. - Hello everyone.
My name is Dr. Jennifer Bott, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs here at Western Michigan University. I'm so sorry that we could not gather in person today, but it is my distinct honor to celebrate you all virtually.
This day marks the closing of one chapter of your lives and the beginning of a new and exciting adventure. I am so proud of all of your achievements during your careers at Western. In a vastly changed landscape, you have shown great resilience and grace.
None of us could have predicted the past eight months. It's been difficult to navigate our new circumstances, but you have beaten all expectations to reach this triumphant day. These experiences have prepared you to progress from your time at WMU and impact our world in even greater ways. Even before the onset of this pandemic, earning your degrees was never going to be easy. We have high expectations for our students in and out of the classroom.
You've studied hard, burnt the midnight oil, been leaders in our campus community, and held down jobs in addition to your on-campus commitments. I hope you all are as proud of your accomplishments as I am. To all of our loved ones watching today. Thank you.
You are vital to your students success and you have our deepest gratitude for all that you've done to help your students arrive at this moment. To our tremendous faculty and staff. Thank you for being the heartbeat of this institution. You give our students your very best every day, and I am immensely grateful for every single one of you. Congratulations on this momentous accomplishment.
It has been my great honor to be a part of this day. I wish you the very best and what I know will be bright futures. Go Broncos. - Please welcome Dr. Satish Deshpande, Dean of the Haworth College of Business. Haworth College of Business graduates, you are embarking on your careers at a time when leadership, collaboration, innovation and communication are more important than ever.
We will all be marked by the pandemic in many ways. The emotional, health and economic impacts are still emerging. We need people like you to help solve the toughest challenges that our world faces.
Remember, that behind every business, there are stakeholders, customers, employees and families that depend on that company. Business can be an incredible force for good and it's the backbone of our economy. As you walk into a complex world that is quite uncertain, know that we care. You have a network of professors, staff members, classmates and Business Bronco Alumni cheering you on. Connect with us on LinkedIn or virtually, we are only a Zoom call away. Congratulations, you have pursued despite tremendous challenges, and because of that, you will have a resiliency that will serve you well throughout life.
We are proud to recognize you now as not only our students, but as fellow business professionals, congratulations. - Graduates, this is the moment you've all been waiting for. By the authority of the State of Michigan, vested in the board of trustees, I hereby confer upon you the appropriate degrees as indicated in the program, with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities appertaining there too. Now let's meet our graduates. - President Montgomery, it is my pleasure to present these candidates who have completed all the requirements for a graduate degree, as prescribed by the graduate faculty of this university. - Congratulations to all the graduating Broncos.
Best wishes on your future endeavors, from your friends at Stryker, many of which are Broncos themselves. - Congratulations, WMU grads, on behalf of Bell's Brewery. - Go Broncos! - [Both] Let's ride! - Hey, Broncos. Congratulations on graduation. What an incredible time. You should be so proud of yourself.
We love you, Broncos. It's always a great day to be a Bronco. - It's coach Lester. Want to say congratulations to all our graduates today for earning your degree from Western Michigan University. You now join the hundreds of thousands of alumni, like myself, that are in the world, in the workforce, trying to make this world a better place. - Hey, there, Broncos.
We're Andrea and Jeff Mehi, representing the classes of 2004 and 2005. - And we want to give a big WMU shout-out and congratulations to the class of 2020. - Congratulations, class of 2020. You've overcome a once-in-a-century pandemic to achieve your goals. From one alumni to another, congratulations and welcome. - Today we celebrate you and your next new chapter in this exciting journey.
Congratulations. - Hey, guys. Checking in today to let you guys know that I'm sincerely proud of you, and congratulations on graduating. You can do anything out here if you put your mind to it. Go Broncos.
- I wanted to take the opportunity to truly congratulate you on a huge success in achieving your degree amidst a worldwide pandemic. Remember to carry that same determination with you throughout your entire professional career. And again, I congratulate you, and I am so honored and proud of you this year. Go Broncos! - Hi, I'm Diana Sieger, and I'm here to congratulate all of the graduates from the School of Social Work. Congratulations. What an accomplishment.
Enjoy your careers. - WMU class of 2020, congratulations. You're about to embark upon a brand-new journey of discovery and wonder and making the world a better place. But just remember this: no matter what you do, no matter where you go, you're always gonna be a part of WMU.
- Sending congratulations to all the graduating class of 2020. Wishing you the best as you embark on your next chapter in your lives. Go Broncos. - From two generations of Western Michigan alumni, congratulations. - And welcome to the Bronco alumni family. - [Both] Go Broncos! - Sending congratulations to the class of 2020.
- [All] Go Broncos! - Congratulations, class of 2020. And go Broncos. - Congratulations, graduates. I am Terris Todd, and 23 years ago to the day, I actually sat in your seat, and now appointed by the White House to the US Department of Education here in Washington, DC. As a WMU graduate, the stars are the limit for you.
Again, congratulations, and go Broncos. - I would like to congratulate the class of 2020 for fighting through these troubling times. This pandemic has changed the way we live, and you have persevered. Go out into society and be productive members of the world.
What a great day to be a Bronco. - So you graduated through a pandemic. What's the percentage of people in history that can say that? If you didn't know already, I hope you know now that grit and determination can take you anywhere you want to go.
And now you have a army of fellow grads to help you. - Congratulations Carlos. You've done so well.
You have completed this task. We are proud of you. (speaking Spanish) (speaking Spanish together) - Lainey, I'm so very, very proud of you. Congratulations to you and all of your friends on graduation. I love you.
(lips smacking) - Congratulations to our daughter Elizabeth Sarah Kimball. - We couldn't be more proud of you and your strong desire to accomplish this goal on your own. - [Both Together] Way to go, Elizabeth. We love you.
Go Broncos. - Hello, congratulations. We are so proud of you. Great accomplishment. We love you. - Catherine, congratulations.
And I love you. From your mom and your number one fan. - Catherine Lynn (indistinct). I'm so proud of you. And this is the greatest day.
I'm just so happy. Now we have two Bronco grads in the family. And wow, did you work hard for this girl, you really earned it. - Hey Catherine. Congratulations from your sisters and your number one fan. - Beth we are so proud of you and all of your accomplishments.
- We couldn't have done it better. - We love you. - Congratulations, Jack, on graduating Magna Cum Laude in three and a half years.
We are so proud of you. - Congrats, Jackson. - Congratulations, Jack. Nice job on graduating.
You're gonna do great. - [Carol] Hi Michelle, congratulations. We're very proud of you and we love you. Love, Auntie Carol, Uncle Don, Max and Lola.
- To our darling, Michelle Sheree, happy graduation. Congratulations and well done. We are so proud of your accomplishments. Wishing you success with your dreams and career.
With your aspirations, we know you'll go far. We love you. - Congratulations, Michelle, you finally graduated. You've worked hard and you did a great job and I'm so proud of you.
I love you, and I know you'll do a great job at whatever you decide to do after college. Congratulations, I love you. - Congratulations, Michelle. I love you. - Hey Dad, just wanted to say congrats on your graduation.
It's definitely been a long ride, but you stuck with it through the ups and the downs, and you finally made it. And I couldn't be more proud of you. Love you. - I'd like to congratulate my son, Terrence Kevin Egan II, for graduating from Western Michigan University with a degree in finance. I told you a long time ago, son, "It's not how you start, it's how you finish."
And you have finished extremely well. Your mom and I are very proud of how hard you worked, and I know that you're going to be extremely successful in whatever endeavor you try to take. - I would like to congratulate my son, Terrance Kevin Eland II for his phenomenal perseverance. I am just so, so proud of him, I do not know what to do. And I want to congratulate him, and I wish him the best.
(inspiring music) - Graduates, as we conclude this program I would like to leave you with a charge for your future. You've been heavily invested in securing your degree. Please know that this remarkable accomplishment, is more than a piece of paper or something to cross off on your task list of life. The opportunity that you have been afforded to earn a degree from a major research university, comes with certain privileges.
Doors will open to you, and you may be the first person from your family or community, or from your background to have a seat at the table where decisions are being made. Use those opportunities, those chances to make a difference. Be an active citizen, don't sit it out for if you do, we all lose. This world needs you, you have shown that you have that special blend of talent, and grit, and passion, and compassion it is what brought you here today and makes Western such a special place.
Don't stop believing in yourself, don't stop thinking and questioning, don't stop fighting for your beliefs, your values, your family, and the world that we live in. Take your determination, and your diploma and make a difference. As activists Marian Wright Edelman stated, "Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it." My greatest hope is that you choose a life journey that inspires you and feeds your soul. Whether it is in pursuit of more education, building a satisfying professional career, or raising a family. Please offer your services, use the talent, the experience and the determination that you have proven to possess and do it to the fullest so that your light shines for others.
Graduates, we can't wait to see where your life journey takes you, wherever it might be, don't forget that your Bronco family is proud of you. Congratulations, and best wishes on your next chapter.