May is the month of graduation for many local high school and college students. Monday night, WKU-O celebrated their graduates with fifty students walking across the stage at the RiverPark Center to receive their diplomas. Students were permitted to invite an unlimited number of guests to the ceremony, drawing a significant crowd of supporters.
Graduates met in the Berry Theatre one hour before the 6:30 pm ceremony. Dr. Beth Laves, Division of Learning and Outreach emceed the event. Provost Cheryl Stevens was present to say a few words and assist Dr. Laves in presenting stoles and scrolls to the graduating students. Dr. Patricia Desrosiers, Department Chair of Social Work at WKU gave the student address, offering encouraging words about their accomplishment. Dr. Scott Williams, President at OCTC was also a stage guest who addressed the audience.
To culminate the event, a cookies and punch reception followed the ceremony. Students gathered with friends and family to take photographs and offer congratulations to their peers.
Among those students was Wendall Hallam, a young man who is described by the faculty of WKU-O as a student leader and someone who is very active in civic affairs.
Hallam’s favorite part of WKU-O was the staff who made his college experience an enjoyable one. He said staff members would always talk to him by using his name and it made him feel recognized. According to Hallam, administrative assistant Judy Rouse was one of those who made WKU-O feel like home.
“A special memory was when I was singing in the lobby and Judy asked me to keep it going, and told me I was a good singer,” Hallam said, “even though I knew I wasn’t.”
What drew him to WKU-O for his undergraduate studies was the fact that it was close to home and affordable. These benefits attract many local students to this college each year, whether on campus or enrolling in courses online.
“I knew that I had responsibilities in the city of Owensboro that I could not leave, so I had to find the best option for me,” Hallam said. “God made it obvious that the option was clearly WKU-O.”
WKU Owensboro is not only close to home for many but also prides itself on continually finding ways to improve and grow within the community. A recent innovation they offer is a new check-in system in place whereby every student or potential student that comes to the Owensboro campus signs in and records the purpose for their visit.
WKU-O had approximately 3,500 students check-in this academic year.
According to Rouse, there were 162 face-to-face and online students in their service area that graduated from the local college this year. The face-to-face students take classes from live instructors or by IVS (interactive video services). Online students still get to know the faculty and staff as they come to campus to meet with their academic advisors, take proctored tests, get financial aid advising, use the computer labs and access study areas.
The smaller campus size allows for student-staff relationships to form. Hallam, who graduated Monday night with a major in social work, does not have any concrete plans after he graduates because he believes the door is wide open for him.
“I know that wherever I go and whatever I do I will be a difference maker,” Hallam said.