WKU's Class of 2021 persisted through challenging year
- WKU News
- Saturday, May 1st, 2021
The Class of 2021 holds a special place in the heart of Western Kentucky University, President Timothy C. Caboni told graduates on Saturday.
“Your senior year was different in so many ways – you experienced the unimaginable consequences of a global pandemic unleashing its wrath on our world,” President Caboni said. “But, together you faced the challenges that unfolded, you continued your studies and you overcame in order to achieve. So, before I say anything more, let me say this: Class of 2021 - Well. Done.
“Well done in the way you persisted through adversity. Well done in how you adapted to an incredibly different world around you. And well done in the remarkable manner in which you cared for one another.”
Graduates were seated across Feix Field as WKU celebrated its Fall 2020/Spring 2021 Commencement at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium.
More than 2,500 graduates participated in Saturday’s in-person ceremonies.
WKU conferred degrees and certificates to 4,180 graduates from fall 2020, spring 2021 and summer 2021 semesters -- 139 associate, 2,836 bachelor’s, 725 master’s, 85 doctoral and six specialist degrees, and 271 undergraduate certificates and 118 graduate certificates.
Spring and summer 2020 graduates will be recognized at 10 a.m. May 8 at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium.
“As we gradually emerge on the other side of the pandemic,” President Caboni said, “I hope the past year leaves you strengthened – better prepared to face adversities – and that you will lean on this experience to elevate you and help you to rise above – today, tomorrow and throughout your lives.”
Student Government Association President Garrett Edmonds told fellow graduates in the Class of 2021: “As we reflect on this past year and the shared challenges we faced as a campus community, our will to persevere brought us to this momentous day of celebration of our achievement. We did not allow the challenges of this year to tarnish our spirit. At WKU, we live by the motto ‘The Spirit Makes The Master.’ Our strong spirit and perseverance are evident by our gathering here today.”
The morning ceremony included graduates of Gordon Ford College of Business and College of Health and Human Services, while the evening ceremony included graduates of Potter College of Arts & Letters, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences and Ogden College of Science & Engineering. (More: Commencement program)
Shelby A. King of Lexington, who received a Master of Science in Psychological Sciences, 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.
Ogden Foundation Scholar
Ashley Salmon of Crestwood, who received a bachelor’s degree with a major Mathematical Economics and a minor in Finance, was the Fall 2020 Ogden Foundation Scholar.
Seth Newby of Magnolia, who received a bachelor’s degree with a major in Finance, was the Spring 2021 Ogden Foundation Scholar.
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 Hilltopper Army ROTC Program commissioned 23 graduates as second lieutenants. They are: Madison Alexander of Franklin; Justin Bratcher of Owensboro; Connor Breece of Nashville, Tennessee; Joseph Carter of Tompkinsville; Grant Denbaugh of Murfreesboro, Tennessee; Jadon Douglas of Hardyville; Thomas Emberton of Frankfort; Jacob Goldman of Owensboro; Ethan Gordon of Elizabethtown; Hunter Hatfield of White House, Tennessee; Steven Huffman of Severna Park, Maryland; Matthew Legendre of Elizabethtown; Andrew Manwell of Louisville; Thomas Pelkey of Rochester, Minnesota; John Provost of Brandenburg; Ethan Reynolds of Raven; Saul Sandefur of Carlisle, Indiana; Faith Smith of Scottsville; Shane Smith of Shepherdsville; Tyler Swindell of Marietta, Georgia; Dameon Walker of Lexington; Collin Watson of Campbellsville; Olivia Wilson of Ekron.
WKU recognized graduates and those in attendance who are serving in the U.S. military or are military veterans.
- Potter College of Arts & Letters made a special degree presentation to Douglas and Tresa Wells, parents of Elliott Wells, who passed away in December. The Bachelor of Arts degree was awarded posthumously to Wells, a Broadcasting and Public Relations major from Owensboro.
- Dr. Julia Roberts, the Mahurin Professor of Gifted Studies and the Executive Director of The Center for Gifted Studies and The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky, 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. Roberts has taught at WKU for 40 years.
- The National Anthem was led by graduating seniors Haley Cuzick, a Music Education major, and Claire Smith, a Vocal Performance major.
- Joe Morel, President of the WKU Alumni Association National Board of Directors, welcomed graduates to the WKU Alumni family.
- The Class of 2021 included 63 WKU student-athletes with a cumulative GPA of 3.35.
Gatton Academy graduation
The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky will recognize 78 students from 43 counties in the Class of 2021, its 14th graduating class. The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday (May 2) at Diddle Arena. Speaker will be Jason Glass, Commissioner of Kentucky Department of Education.
Spring/summer 2020 graduates
The Commencement celebration for spring and summer 2020 graduates of all five academic colleges will begin at 10 a.m. May 8 at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium. Graduates will assemble at 9 a.m. along Avenue of Champions in front of Downing Student Union for Topper Walk. View the May 8 schedule.
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