More than 1,500 people attended Friday night’s commencement in two ceremonies at the college – the fourth time a two-ceremony schedule has been used to alleviate overcrowding in Te Ata Memorial Auditorium.
Presiding over the ceremony was Dr. John Feaver, president of the college.
“I ask of you to emerge and you go back to the communities you decide … I ask that you lend an effort to improve them,” Feaver said. “To improve the quality of life for your neighbors and beyond your neighbors to the communities and the world.”
Patsy Jo Heidlage of Claremore, president of the USAO Alumni Association, presented the Association’s Distinguished Graduate Award to Bled N’Guessan, who also earned her American citizenship on commencement day.
N’Guessan graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry and a minor in liberal arts. She is from the Ivory Coast and will be attending the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy in the fall.
“Aside from Bled’s work as a student and her community engagement, she is, above all, a genuine joy to be around and a student of the highest character,” said Dr. Zachary Simpson, assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies at USAO. “Much of this – though not all – is surely owing to Bled’s unique background (she immigrated to the United States from the Ivory Coast), which has given her a depth of experience and wisdom that goes beyond her age.”
While at USAO, she was named to USAO honor society Hypatia, Alpha Lambda Delta, Beta Beta Beta Biology Honor Society and Who’s Who Among American Universities and Colleges. She received the Evolving Leader Award, the Commitment to Diversity Award and was the 2010 USAO Homecoming Queen.
N’Guessan also was a member of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, USAO Ambassadors, Student Government Association Supreme Court and was a Freshman Orientation Leader. She was active in Compassion International, sponsored children in Kenya and Nicaragua and organized fundraising for pregnancy centers in Haiti and Mexico. She worked as a math and chemistry tutor and a chemistry lab assistant.
Six graduating seniors were recognized as Spring 2012 Distinguished Graduates for the college’s four academic divisions.
Drama major Jessica Gray from Walters received distinction from the Division of Arts and Humanities. Gennifer Majors, a physics major from Morrilton, Ark. was named the outstanding graduate for the Division of Business and Social Science.
Gabrielle Barros, a elementary education major from Moore, and Meghan Duggins, a deaf education major from Kansas City, Mo., were distinguished by the Division of Education and Speech Language Pathology. Jeffrey Eike, a Blanchard resident with double majors in music and computer science from Ames, and Shaylea Shebester, a biology major from Pauls Valley, were named the outstanding graduates for the Division of Science and Physical Education.
The evening ceremony began with the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” processional performed by Dr. Stephen Weber, professor of music. For the 6 p.m. ceremony, T. Alex McCabe, who graduated with a degree in music, sang Agnus Dei by composer Georges Bizet. The later ceremony featured Eike performing the song, “A Touch of Tuba.” Both were accompanied by Rhenada Finch, piano instructor at USAO.
Weber, Dr. Ken Bohannon, associate professor of music, and Dr. Jan Hanson, professor of music, led graduates and guests in singing “The College Hymn.” Dr. Dan Hanson, professor of music, performed the recessional, “A Summer Song,” a composition made popular by the English folk rock duo Chad and Jeremy in 1964.
Copies of the ceremony will be available on DVD in the USAO Media and Community Relations office or by phone at 405-574-1318.
Feaver issued 80 bachelor of science degrees, 46 bachelor of arts degrees and five bachelor of fine arts degrees.