Spring 2021 Virtual Commencement: Haworth College of Business
(upbeat ceremonial music) - 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 think one of my most memorable experiences would be going to my first hockey game at Western and just the student section, there's so much energy and just so many chants.
I just love the hockey games a lot. Those memories that will stick with me for a long time. - My most memorable Western experiences was at International Festival and I represented my country, Oman, as the Omani Students Association and we won the best spoof. - Well, overall, the experiences I've had have to do with the hills in Western because there's just so many and I used to work in Admissions where we did tours all over campus. It helped me a lot with like not getting that Freshmen 15 that everybody talked about. - I've been obsessed with the atmosphere of The Library.
I've found I've met so many people there. I have so many memories there. Some of my fondest and proudest moments have taken place at The Library. Not the one on campus. - I think my most memorable experience at WMU was the great flood of 2017.
And this was actually my freshman year and I was in the marching band. And this is when the football fields flooded. You know, people were coming together to push people's cars out of two feet of water. Really got to see the sense of involvement and community right as I was getting into Western my freshman year. - My most memorable moment here at WMU is when I suffered a stroke back in November of 2020.
At that time, my prognosis was very bleak, but because of Dr. Harrison and the School of Social Work staff and the Disability staff, I am living proof what WMU community can do at its best. - I've really learned that anything is possible. Being 39 years old, I have a full-time family, I have a full-time job. WMU really made it possible for me to finish school while doing all the other things I have going on in my life.
Definitely proud to be a Bronco. - And the reason I am graduating on schedule, on time, it's the support from my family. Twenty years from now, I think I'll remember my time at Western as the most exciting, fun learning experience of my life. - I learned how important it is to find your tribe of people. The second week I was here, I was lucky enough to find my three best friends.
- [Female] You're going to have a lot of different friend groups. You're going to join a lot of different organizations, but once you find your family and your people, the memories that you make with those people are what you'll always be able to look back on. - [Female] You know, 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.
(upbeat piano music) (upbeat orchestral 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 begin by extending a very heartfelt congratulations on your graduation. Today's event is all about you. It's a moment for recollection and reflection, for appreciation and celebration.
As you progressed through your WMU career, you learned many things in the classroom, in the laboratory, on the stage, in the workshop and on the runway, but you also learned many things that were not part of the curriculum. You found out that walking up the hill from the valleys was its own cardio workout. You feasted on Bilbo's pizza and powered through finals on gallons of Biggby Coffee. During your years here, you learned things that generations of Broncos have discovered.
And when the global pandemic changed the world, altering the final stretch of your college experience, you did what Broncos have always done. You paused, you looked around to gain your bearings, and you moved forward, taking much from lessons that no one alive today could teach. You did all of this together. Graduates, you have built a comradery and a shared experience that will stay with you for the rest of your lives. You learned who you could count on, that family could become friends and friends could become family. That faculty could be great sounding boards for ideas, whether in person or on a screen.
And you learned that Western is packed with people who are prepared to do whatever they could to help you continue your studies in new and very different ways. You learned that we are here to help you thrive today and into the future. You learned that although technology was valuable in allowing you to attend classes, RSO meetings, town halls, and study groups, it couldn't replace the human connection. Though you could power through classes using WebEx and Blackboard, hearing someone's voice and seeing their face could make a world of difference. And Broncos, I hope that you discovered the power that you possess in sharing your voice with others.
What you say and do is important. Even the smallest gesture can make the biggest difference to another person. There's much truth in French mathematician Blaise Pascal's words, "Kind words do not cost much, yet they accomplish much."
This is the day you've been waiting for. Wherever you are, whenever you are watching this presentation, please know that everyone at your alma mater is immensely proud of you and what you have accomplished. The lessons that you learned about yourself as you dug in and pushed through to earn a college degree during a global pandemic will stay with you for the rest of your lives. The ability to proudly tell people that you graduated from Western Michigan University in the year 2021 will always be a badge of honor.
And to that inner circle of families, friends, mentors, advisors, I know how elated you are to see the effort and exertion, the late nights and long days culminate in a diploma and a sense of accomplishment. The entire Western Michigan University community shares your joy in this achievement and stands with you in anticipating great things for these graduates. And graduates, we are all awed by your dedication. Author Christian D. Larson said, "Believe in yourself
"and all that you are. "Know that there is something inside of you "that is greater than any obstacle." You took these words to heart. You persevered. As you move through your life, you're going to discover that what you have been building over the last 14 months, the ability to achieve goals, even in the face of challenges, will serve you well, personally and professionally. Because of the tenacity you have shown, the determination that brought you to this point, to this ceremony, you have a rock solid foundation that will take you as far as you want to go.
As author Orison Swett Marden wrote, "Success is the child of drudgery and perseverance. "It cannot be coaxed or bribed. "Pay the price and it is yours." Broncos, you have made a considerable down payment on a successful future and you're now one step closer to discovering. Wherever life takes you, know that you are part of the WMU community forever. No one can take away the experiences that you built here, the relationships that you've forged.
You are now part of a 260,000 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.
I hope that in addition to making you more resilient, earning your degree at this time has also made you more appreciative of the things in life that we once took for granted. Share that appreciation with those around you. Take a moment to reflect on everyone who is part of your unique Western experience. Whether it's a faculty member who asks you to rethink your assumptions, an advisor who gave you advice and guidance, an employer who helped you discover a new talent and, of course, the many family and friends who are cheering for you today.
Don't forget those who helped you get to this point. As Voltaire noted, "Appreciation is a wonderful thing. "It makes what is excellent in others "belong to us as well."
As you enter this new phase of your life, you are prepared for what's next. You're ready to make and set new goals. You're equipped to face uncertainty, to find a way for yourself, and just as importantly, to become an example and help others along the way as you can.
The novelist Edith Wharton said, "There are two ways "of spreading light: to be the candle "or the mirror that reflects it." You, as WMU alumni, will spread your light with the excellence you have demonstrated on your way to graduation. I have no doubt you will use the knowledge that you have gained on our campus and along with your creativity, ingenuity and grit to show the world exactly what Broncos are capable of doing. Western Michigan University Class of 2021, congratulations on your graduation. Everyone at your alma mater is immensely proud of you and is eagerly anticipating cheering you on in every future success. Go Broncos! - Congratulations graduates.
As the WMU Alumni Association Board President, I want to welcome each of you to our alumni family. As of today, you are now a part of a community of over 250,000 alumni who are proud Bronco graduates like yourselves. With Broncos in all 50 States and in an over 100 countries around the world, you will never be far from your Western Michigan University alumni family.
Your last few semesters at WMU have certainly been unique, but like the alumni featured here today, your education, your experiences, and the relationships you've made at WMU have prepared you to make your mark on the world. - 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 Effect. 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 get. - 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 1800 women since I've 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 opportunities that I gained at Western, I'm not sure where I would be today. Western's aviation program is a prestige program, but I can honestly say probably about 85% to 90% of us that I went to school with were 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 am 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 odds, 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.
Because I remember when I first walked into the Hayworth 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. 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. - Now that you have graduated, I truly hope that you will continue to stay connected to WMU.
The Alumni Association is here to support you as you embark on this next chapter in your life. Everything from career services like resume building and interview support to networking with other fellow alumni, we are here for you. You are important to us so we really hope you'll stay in touch. We are so proud of all of your accomplishments thus far and we can't wait to see what you do next.
Congratulations again and go Broncos. - Hello. My name is Dr. Jennifer Bott and it's my honor to serve as your Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.
I sure wish we were gathered at Miller Auditorium today to properly celebrate this milestone together. You deserve a triumphant celebration, but please do not allow the platform to take away from the jubilance and significance of this moment. When we face adversity, we can either collapse or we can rise and confront the challenges we encounter head-on. I have seen you as a class continually rise to new heights that have left me in awe of you. It is clear the WMU Class of 2021 is exceptional. You will be remembered by your alma mater, your fellow students, and your loved ones for the commitment and tenacity you have shown over these last several years and in particular, these last 12 months.
You have made us all incredibly proud and we know this is just the beginning for you and all you will achieve in the future. You have managed to thrive when no one would have blamed you for giving up. You remained committed to your purpose and kept forging through even the most challenging obstacles. You will now go out into the world and prosper. You've earned it.
Hold your head up high and keep that Bronco spirit. When you have tough days, remember that you have already braved storms that could have taken you down, but never did. And your success rate for getting through those tough days is 100%. The strength and perseverance you have identified within yourself over these last few years will be amongst the most valuable tools you take away from your time here with us at Western Michigan University. You are exceptional.
You have done an extraordinary job and now it is time to celebrate and enjoy your accomplishments. Congratulations on all you have achieved and on all the triumphs you have set your sights on next for the next chapter of your lives. You will be remembered and have only just begun to create your legacy. Thank you for inspiring me along the way and go Broncos. - Haworth College of Business graduates. You're 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 depends on that company. Business is an incredible force for good. And is 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, virtually via phone or stop by Schneider hall.
Congratulations, you have endured 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.
Not only as our students, but as fellow business professionals. Congratulations. - Graduates, this is the moment you have 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. President Montgomery, it is my s who have completed all requireme in the Haworth College of Busins as prescribed by the faculty of. - Hello class of 2021, Tim Allen here. As a fellow Bronco, my advice to you upon your graduation is to really enjoy this monumental moment in your life. And also set a goal for yourself.
Very specific goal. For me, it was The Tonight Show. I wanted to get booked on The Tonight Show to do my comedy set for Johnny Carson. As I tried to make that happen and get closer to achieving that goal, I was fortunate to have a lot of other career opportunities open up to me along the way. Opportunities like "Home Improvement," "The Santa Clause."
And now here I sit, kind of graduated myself from nine seasons of my TV show "Last Man Standing." All because I set one goal for myself when I was close to your age. So onward graduates, you never know what can happen. Make lists, set those goals.
Technically you're already ahead of the game, reaching the goal of graduating. So now make sure you enjoy it. Go where you want to be, not where you don't want to go. And whatever that may be, there are Western Michigan University alumni everywhere, in every state, in every industry. Whether you're in LA and Kalamazoo in your living room, you're part of a huge network of Broncos, who are connected through our shared experiences as WMU students. We're all proud of your hard work and perseverance and can't wait to see what comes next.
Congratulations, and go Broncos! (upbeat music) - So you graduated through a pandemic. What's the percentage of people in history that can say that? - But most importantly, you have proven to all of your loved ones, your professors and most importantly, yourself that you have what it takes to succeed against all odds and obstacles. 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.
- Hey Broncos, congratulations on this amazing achievement that all of you have made. The world is completely open to you and I only wish you the best. - You've already shown us just how awesome you are.
I wish you the best as you move forward to embrace life's new adventures. - It's coach Lester. I 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.
I can't wait to see you do the same thing. - Today, we celebrate you and your next new chapter in this exciting journey. - 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 U.S. Department of Education here in Washington, DC.
As a WMU graduate, the stars are the limit for you. Again congratulations and go Broncos. - Hey guys, my name is Paul Blair, professionally known as DJ White Shadow.
I'm a Grammy winning producer and songwriter and most importantly a Western Michigan University graduate. 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. - We know you have a great future in front of you because it's always a great day to be a Bronco. - Congratulations. What an accomplishment. Enjoy your careers. - Cannot wait to see what you have in store on the next leg of your Bronco journey. Again, welcome to the family and congratulations.
- But just remember that no matter what you do, no matter where you go, you're always going to be a part of WMU. - Congratulations to all the graduating Broncos. Best wishes on your future endeavors.
- Congratulations WMU grads on behalf of Bell's Brewery. - Go Broncos. - Let's ride! - Well done Andrew! - Congrats, kid. Well done. - Way to go, Andrew. Woohoo! - Congrats Andrew! - Congratulations Andrew. - Congrats! Proud of all your hard work.
- Congratulations Landon. - We're so proud of you. We can't wait to see where life leads you. Good luck. We love you. - Hey, Tyler, best wishes to your graduation from the Swiss Alps.
I'm so proud of you. I really hope we can climb this mountain together as soon as possible. Best wishes from Switzerland. - Hi, we want to congratulate Nathan Quinn Reynolds on getting his bachelor's degree. We are so proud of you and all of your accomplishments. We love you.
- Hey Nicole, congratulations on your big graduation from Western Michigan University. You did a great job at H cob. - Congratulations, honey. We love you. - Congratulations, Emma.
We are so proud of you and all you have accomplished at WMU. - And we're very excited to have another alumni in the family. - Go Broncos. - Congratulations, Madeline. - We are so proud of you, honey. You've worked so hard.
- We love you very much. - And we look forward to being a part of what the future holds for you. (cheering and clapping) - Congratulations, Joe. - We're proud of you and love you. Good luck.
- Hey Bug, congratulations. I know you've worked hard. We can't see what the future holds for you. - We love you. I'm very, very proud of you. Congratulations. (family cheering) - Congratulations. Amazing four years. Future looks great. - Broncos.
- We are so proud of you, Abby. - Look out world, here she comes. - Hi, Abby! Congratulations. We're so proud of you. Good job in college.
- Congratulations Abby! Wooo. Let's go! - Congratulations my son Mosab. I'm always proud of you and I wish that I'm next to you this moment.
All family waiting for you. Love you Mosab. - Hey Shannon. Can't tell you how incredibly proud that we all are of you. Reach for the stars, kiddo. You deserve everything that you've get.
You've worked really hard and nobody deserves it more than you. Love you tons. - Way to go Megan. Your dad and I are incredibly proud of you. Graduating with honors and a double major is no easy feat. We love you, daughter! - Abby, you know, I always said "don't say you can't, say you'll try," but now you can say I did it. I'm so proud of you to be graduating with a finance degree and two minors and go a Lawson Lunatics.
- Shane Cunningham. - Congratulations. - We're so proud of you very much.
- And we love you very much. - Congratulations. - All right Dom - We love you. - I'm very proud of you. - We love you. - Proud of you buddy.
- We're proud of you. Congratulations. - We love you. - Congrats on graduating Matthew. - Welcome to the world of business, buddy. - We're proud of all your accomplishments.
- Welcome to the Western alumni, family. - Go Broncos! - Constantine, I just want to tell you congratulations on your graduation day. I love you and all the best for the future. So just remember, Papi's waiting for you.
Stay safe. Love you. - Nick Stamper. I am so proud of you. I couldn't be prouder, unless of course you were to find your dream job in the railroad industry. Oh wait, you did! You start at BNSF in June.
I'm so proud of you, congratulations. - Hey Shannon. I am so proud of you. Did a wonderful job. It's been a weird year. Let's go have fun, graduate.
I love you to death. You did a great job. - From brown and gold - To brown and gold. - Congratulations Sammie on your new job at UPS. - Go Broncos. - We love you Sammie! - Congratulations. The first of the Coharchecks and Vinos
to graduate college. - We love you son. - Congratulations, from our generation. - Congratulations Dean.
- Congrats brother. - We love you. - Broncos! - Yeah! - Congratulations Carly, we are so proud of you.
- We love you, Car. - We love you. (upbeat jazz music) - Hey Austin, congratulations on your graduation. - You did it buddy. Way to go. We are very proud of you.
- It's a great day to be a Bronco. - Hey Sean, this is Sharia. Congratulations. I am so proud of you. Continue to keep striving, keep reaching for your goals, And most of all, continue to keep God first.
Congrats again. - We are proud of you and there's been ups and downs, but you made it through. And you can say that you're a college grad in just a few short weeks. So we say to you, - Congratulations! - Hi Danielle, we love you. We're very proud of you.
Congratulations. - Congrats, Danny. You did it man. We'll see you. - Congratulations Diara! - Congratulations Diara! I'm so proud of you. - Double Broncos. - Congratulations.
- Diara. (yelling) - Congratulations Diara. - You did it. Welcome to the alumni club. - You're awesome big sis'. - Congratulations, Casey. You rock the house.
We love you. - Hey baby, the whole world is your opportunity. Go chase your dreams. Bronco family forever.
- Go Broncos! - I'd like to congratulate my son Constantine on graduating from Western Michigan University. I am so proud of you and I love you. Go Broncos. Woo hoo! - Congratulations Misty. We're proud of you.
Well done. We love you. - Your four years at Western flown by.
- Congratulations, Elizabeth. - We love you. - Graduates, as we conclude this program, I'd like to leave you with a charge for your future. You have been heavily invested in securing your degree. Know that this remarkable accomplishment is more than a piece of paper or something to cross off your task list in 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, your 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. The world needs you.
You have shown that you have the special blend of talent, grit, passion, and compassion. It's what brought you here today and what 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 we live in. Take your determination and your diploma and make a difference.
As Nelson Mandela stated, "we can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference." 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's journey takes you. Wherever you might be, don't forget that your Bronco family is proud of you. Congratulations and best wishes on your next chapter.