Cameras flashed and hands waved wildly as Ohio University’s Class of 2018 entered The Convo for the very last time.
“Welcome Class of 2018 to your graduation,” President Duane Nellis excitedly proclaimed to the crowd, followed by thousands of cheers. “Today we honor you, your achievement, your commitment, and your passion.”
About 4,200 graduate and undergraduate students received their degrees on Friday, May 4 and Saturday, May 5.
President Nellis welcomed the keynote speaker, OU alumna Allie LaForce, who graduated in 2011 from the Honors Tutorial College with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism.
During her time at OU, LaForce was a women’s college basketball analyst for WOUB-FM, and served as a sideline reporter for SportsTime Ohio’s coverage of the MAC men’s basketball tournament and Mid-American Conference football, according to a report.
LaForce wanted to give the graduates insight rather than to preach at them, she said.
She shared a few important lessons with her audience, the first of which was to “be kind.”
“Be kind to the people who are having a bad day even if they're not being kind to you,” LaForce said. “Be kind to everyone because it makes a difference in this world.”
LaForce had also learned that being successful meant she had to work hard for her opportunities.
“You won't see the benefits while you're going through the grind because it'll suck at times,” LaForce said. “You're going to be exhausted … you're not going to know that it's leading to something better. Keep going, and don't look back.”
Lily Bradley, who graduated with a bachelor of science in journalism, gave the student address at the morning commencement. She was an inaugural member of President Nellis’ Presidential Leadership Society.
Bradley spoke about what it meant to her to be a graduate of OU.
“The beauty of being a Bobcat is that you can be whoever and whatever you want to be within an extended family of bobcats who not only want to see you succeed, but will bend over backwards to ensure that you do,” Bradley said.
Bradley said she felt the excellence of the university has provided her and her classmates with the skills and support they need to move onto a new world.
“The time has come,” Bradley said. “But we can be certain that we are well-equipped to take on the task. Our soon-to-be alma mater has adequately prepared us for this moment, while providing us with friends and memories so true and so dear that we will always look back at our time with great pride.”
For Bradley, lessons at OU also went beyond academics.
“If I've learned anything, it's that when it comes to witnessing love, there's no better place than Ohio University,” Bradley said.