College of Education and Behavioral Sciences News
Class of 2023 celebrates at WKU's 193rd Commencement
- WKU News
- Thursday, May 4th, 2023
Western Kentucky University’s Class of 2023 celebrated the completion of an educational journey disrupted by a global pandemic.
“The last four years provided your class a life-changing opportunity to show us all that you can’t be stopped,” President Timothy C. Caboni said Thursday night during WKU’s 193rd Commencement at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium.
“Your commitment to purpose, your determination of spirit and your limitless resilience have served you exceptionally well,” he said, referring to the pandemic that unfolded during the Class of 2023’s freshman year. “Though it may not yet be clear to you today, rest assured that this experience strengthened you in extraordinary ways and will serve you well in the years to come.
“You proved your ability to pivot and to overcome regardless of the obstacles before you. Never forget how to overcome. Never forget that you did overcome. Never forget that you can always overcome,” President Caboni said.
WKU conferred degrees and certificates to 2,832 spring and summer 2023 graduates -- 77 associate, 1,890 bachelor’s, 518 master’s, 58 doctoral and 12 specialist degrees, and 176 undergraduate certificates and 101 graduate certificates. (More: Commencement photos)
As graduates take their next steps in a lifelong journey, President Caboni challenged them to not allow technology to replace personal connections.
“Personal connections with other individuals used to be our lifeline. How we engaged. How we built and sustained relationships. How we coped. How we cared. How we loved. How we lived,” he said.
Spending three hours a day on electronic devices for the next year would add up to 45 days and over the course of 50 years that number would be 2,250 days or about six years, President Caboni said.
“So, if you remember nothing more from this evening, as you move into the next chapter of your life, please remember this: you can make the decision to be mindful of personal connections. To refocus and readjust. To remove distractions that pay no dividends but instead steal your time and your joy.”
He then encouraged graduates to look around at the sunset, to feel the evening’s breeze and to experience the pride in their accomplishments. “This moment. Your moment. We all need to make purposeful choices to be with one another. To engage. To relearn how to look one another in the eye. To reconnect with our communities. And to be present.”
Graduating senior Cole Bornefeld of Hendersonville, Tennessee, who has served as Student Government Association President and Student Regent this year, congratulated the Class of 2023 for working hard, overcoming challenges and persevering to reach this milestone.
“As you leave this campus and venture into the next chapter of your lives, remember to embrace change, stay true to your values, and pursue passions with vigor,” Bornefeld said. “Take risks, make mistakes, learn from them, and never give up on your dreams. I have no doubt that the Class of 2023 will make a positive impact on the world, just as you have done during your time here at Western Kentucky University.”
Ogden Foundation Scholar
Bridget Beavin of Louisville was recognized as the Ogden Foundation Scholar. A graduate of the Mahurin Honors College, Beavin earned a bachelor of arts with double majors in History and Political Science. The Ogden Foundation Award, WKU’s top undergraduate graduation honor, is presented to one graduating baccalaureate degree senior who has demonstrated exceptional academic achievement and outstanding university and civic engagement. The award was presented by Daryl Greattinger, a member of the Ogden Foundation Board of Trustees.
Lindsey Powell of Versailles, who received a master’s degree in Social Work, was recognized as the John D. Minton Award recipient. The Graduate School’s top award is named for Dr. John D. Minton, who was a history professor and WKU’s first graduate dean and served as vice president for Administrative Affairs and as WKU’s fifth president. The award was presented by John D. Minton Jr., retired Chief Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court.
The Hilltopper Army ROTC Program commissioned 16 graduates as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.
Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Struzik, Professor of Military Science, administered the oath of office to the following cadets (name, hometown, first duty assignment): Joseph Black of Cottontown, Tennessee, assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia; Tyler Corey of New Palestine, Indiana, assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia; Zackary Cummings of Hardyville, assigned to Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Rylee Fansler of Bowling Green, assigned to the Basic Officer Leader Course; Nigel Farmer of Aberdeen, Maryland, assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia; Abby Jones of Bowling Green, assigned to 225 En Brigade based in Louisiana; Tyler Jones of Clarksville, Tennessee, assigned to 225 En Brigade based in Louisiana; Dominic Kelly of Bowling Green, assigned to Grand Prairie, Texas; Adrian Martin of Monticello, awaiting assignment; Isaac O’Flynn of Owensboro, assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia; Andrew Padgett of Middlesboro, assigned to Fort Gordon, Georgia; Jonhnny Paillere of Clarksville, Tennessee, assigned to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; Justin Spearman of Scottsville, assigned to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; Andrew Swierkosz of Bowling Green, assigned to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; Theaira Thurston of Elizabethtown, assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia; and Lauren Willett of Owensboro, assigned to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
WKU recognized graduates and those in attendance who are serving in the U.S. military or are military veterans.
Commencement activities began with Topper Walk along the Avenue of Champions and concluded with the Big Red Bash on the South Lawn.
Dr. Michael Seidler, University Distinguished Professor, carried the Mace to lead the procession of platform guests. The honor of carrying the mace is given to the faculty member in attendance who has served the longest tenure. Dr. Seidler, Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Political Science, has taught at WKU for over 36 years.
Quinn Hixson, a vocal performance major from Bowling Green, led the National Anthem.
Joe Dan Beavers, President of the WKU Alumni Association Board of Directors, welcomed graduates to the WKU Alumni family.
The spring/summer 2023 graduates included 50 WKU student-athletes with a cumulative GPA of 3.49.
College Recognition Ceremonies
On Friday at Diddle Arena, WKU’s five academic colleges will host recognition ceremonies to celebrate the accomplishments of their graduates who will walk the line and shake hands with President Caboni.
The ceremony schedule is: Gordon Ford College of Business, 8 a.m.; Potter College of Arts & Letters, 10:30 a.m.; Ogden College of Science and Engineering, 1 p.m.; College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, 3:30 p.m.; and College of Health and Human Services, 6:30 p.m.
WKU is expecting heavy traffic throughout the day. To accommodate traffic flow for graduates and guests, WKU Parking & Transportation is providing parking recommendations for each ceremony, including shuttle service to Diddle Arena, at https://www.wku.edu/commencement/directions.php as well as live updates at https://www.wku.edu/eventparking. More: Event parking information; parking map
Gatton Academy graduation
The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science will recognize 90 students from 45 counties in the Class of 2023, its 16th graduating class. The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday at Van Meter Hall. The speaker will be Kentucky Senate President Pro Tempore David P. Givens.
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- WKU -
Western Kentucky University prides itself on positioning its students, faculty and staff for long term success. As a student-centered, applied research university, WKU helps students expand on classroom learning by integrating education with real-world applications in the communities we serve. Our hilltop campus is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, which was recently named by Reader’s Digest as one of the nicest towns in America, just an hour’s drive from Nashville, Tennessee.