Sunday, May 14, 2000

Grads take giant step

By Phillip Pina
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        College seniors throughout the Tristate completed one journey with smiles, hugs and diplomas Saturday. They then set out on a new one.

(Tony Jones photo)
| ZOOM |
        Camera flashes lighted the Firstar Center downtown, as the nearly 1,000 graduates taking part in Xavier University's commencement filed into the arena Saturday morning. It was a day for graduates and families to be proud, said the Rev. James Hoff, Xavier president.

        Overall, 986 undergraduates and 895 graduate students received degrees this year at Xavier.

        The scene was repeated hours later by family and friends of Northern Kentucky University graduates in the same arena. And it was repeated Saturday on the campuses of Thomas More College in Crestview Hills and the College of Mount St. Joseph in Delhi Township.

        Students were honored, congratulated and reminded that graduation was only the beginning of their future.

        “We find that our journey at Xavier has made us a new person,” said Marie E. Gasper, the valedictorian. The Omaha, Neb., native graduated with bachelor's degrees in French and theology.

        Members of the Class of 2000 are travelers, Ms. Gasper said. Their journey has taken them down new paths. They have overcome obstacles because they remained focused.

        They now go out to start careers and families.

        Ohio Senate President Richard Finan, Xavier's commencement speaker, cautioned graduates to remember what is important and what they have learned.

        “Your kid's soccer time is more important than your tee time,” he said.

        If they thought the time of being constantly graded was over with graduation, they had better think again, Mr. Finan said.

        At work, among friends and throughout society, “you are constantly going to be measured in what you do every day,” he said.

        At Mount St. Joseph, Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, told students to put the day into context.

        “There are two choices available. You can be reminded of all that has been accomplished by those who have gone before you and what a great springboard that provides for your success. Or you can be reminded of all that has not been accomplished, which gives you enormous opportunities, challenges and responsibilities.”

        Mr. Armstrong, of Wapakoneta, Ohio, didn't mention his 1969 moonwalk to the 2,000 in attendance. (The school awarded degrees to 386 undergraduates.)

        Mr. Armstrong received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree in the morning ceremonies.

        “You'll be fine,” said her uncle, Bruce Kramer, also of Michigan. “This is the most important day of your life.”

        The school graduated 373 students Saturday.

        Graduates at Miami University received degrees May 7. The University of Cincinnati will hold its commencement June 9.

        Enquirer reporter Patrick Crowley contributed.

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