Michelle Obama addressed the 2012 graduates of Oregon State University on Sunday, June 17, during the university’s 143rd annual commencement ceremony. A record number of graduates heard the First Lady Speak in Reser Stadium.
During her speech, the First Lady themed her message to the graduates on living a rich life—the lessons, she said, were based on what she learned from growing up with her family, whom she describes as deeply close. Obama urged graduates, in times of misfortune, to focus on what they do have rather than what they might have lost. She urged them, as well, to define success on their own terms, and never to miss the opportunity to be present in the lives of their loved ones.
Video of the First Lady’s address is on Oregon State’s YouTube channel.
An estimated 4,979 students who graduated this June from Oregon State and OSU-Cascades, earned a total of 5,236 degrees. Both totals are records for the university, as is the number of graduates who attended commencement at the main campus on Sunday – an estimated 3,473. As many as 33,000 people were expected to attend commencement.
An advocate for better childhood nutrition and healthy communities, Michelle Obama received an honorary doctorate from Oregon State in recognition of her work. Oregon State President Ed Ray extended the invitation to the First Lady to speak at the university’s commencement.
Of the nearly 5,000 graduates, the oldest member of the class of 2012 is 76 years old; the youngest is just 18. The average age of the class is 25, and the graduates come from 48 states, one U.S. territory, five overseas military addresses, Washington, D.C., and 54 countries.
OSU is one of the few institutions of its size in the country where the graduating students will receive their actual diploma during commencement – not just a generic certificate.
There are many different stories among this year’s graduates:
Tarron Anderson takes every opportunity he can to express gratitude to Oregon State, and especially Ecampus. To him, it’s what got him to where he is today—on the cusp of graduating with a psychology degree, and preparing to start law school at Willamette University. Anderson came to Corvallis to be close to his fiance. He got a full time job at Ecampus, and soon saw many examples of busy people finding success with online classes. It made Anderson think that he could finish his own degree, too. To Anderson, Oregon State helped him toward success, and also toward becoming a more involved community member—something he plans to take with him when he leaves.
OSU Students in Free Enterprise is more than just a student group, it has become a way of life for its members. Graduates Jennifer Villalobos, Drew Anderson and Kim Pendergrass are graduating and leaving this nationally recognized and organization they helped build. SIFE went from being unknown to attracting attention from the First Lady herself for its efforts in hunger issues and the OSU students’ nationwide hunger awareness road trip they inaugurated in 2009.
Jovan Duvall has a mission, and it’s to help people eat better. To Duvall, a dietetics graduate, it’s a vital time to use a good diet and nutrition to battle obesity and other chronic diseases. As a co-leader of Extension’s Food Hero social marketing campaign, Duvall helped test new recipes for not just nutrition, but for taste, too. Duvall also followed her passion for good food to Japan last year, where she furthered her knowledge of dietetics while immersing herself in a culture she has been studying for the past 13 years. When she graduates Duvall will head to a dietetics internship at the University of California Davis.
And check out our full profile of Oregon State’s graduates this year:
- Of this number, 2,498 are men, 2,481 are women.
- All total they will be receiving 5,236 degrees.
- 4,130 will be receiving the baccalaureate degree.
- 231 will receive two degrees today.
- 12 will receive three degrees today.
- 1 will receive four (4) degrees today.
- 766 will receive Masters Degrees.
- 86 will receive the Doctor of Pharmacy degree.
- 197 will receive the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
- 57 awarded the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in an earlier ceremony.
- 303 graduates earned degrees via distance education in 23 different degree programs.
- 164 of the graduating class are veterans.
Geographically, most of today’s candidates are from the State of Oregon. 35 of Oregon’s 36 counties are represented.
But this is also an institution of national and international significance.
Of the 50 United States, this year’s class lists 48 of the 50 states as their home, 1 US territory or commonwealth are represented, 5 list overseas US military addresses, and 1 list our nation’s capital as their home.
Internationally, 53 countries are represented.
The average age of the class is 25.
In attendance at today’s ceremony are 3,473 candidates.