Wright State University President Sue Edwards praised graduating students for their adaptability and resilience and said the pandemic has prepared them to take on any challenge they may face.
“The adjustments you have made in the last year to a sudden remote learning environment was remarkable…” she said. “You will see that your experience in making those adjustments has set you up well for careers that will require that same resilience.”
Edwards noted that the world is a much different place today than when graduates started their educational journeys at Wright State. But graduates, she said, should take pride in the fact they earned their degrees during an immense health crisis that has disrupted the state, country and the world.
“The adaptability and resilience that you have displayed during your final year of college will, I am sure, serve you quite well in your future endeavors,” she said. “To earn a college degree is a monumental achievement in its own right, but to complete it during a global pandemic is nothing short of heroic. You are inspirational.”
Edwards delivered her remarks during Wright State’s Dec. 12 virtual commencement ceremony, which celebrated Dayton Campus graduates from the 2020 Summer and Fall Semesters.
Wright State broadcasted the virtual ceremony on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Photos of many members of the class of 2020 were included in the ceremony and shared on university social media accounts, and each graduate was recognized by name.
Those who missed the ceremony can watch it at wright.edu/commencement.
Edwards said that while she and the Wright State faculty and staff were heartbroken that the class of 2020 could not celebrate graduation together in person, she was proud of each and every graduating student.
“It also warms our hearts and fills us with so much joy to know that you are here, at the finish line, having earned your college degree,” she said.
Edwards urged the class to go out into the world and be brilliant.
“I can’t wait to see all that you will achieve in your lives and how you make your mark on the world,” she said.
Wright State’s fall graduating class of 2020 included graduates with 851 bachelor’s degrees, 425 master’s degrees, 71 doctoral degrees and 24 associate degrees. The class featured 129 international students from 23 different countries.
Graduates by college:
• College of Education and Human Services: 210
• College of Engineering and Computer Science: 266
• College of Liberal Arts: 199
• College of Nursing and Health: 67
• College of Science and Mathematics: 218
• Raj Soin College of Business: 275
• Lake Campus: 58
• Boonshoft School of Medicine: 20 (master’s degree only)
During her address, Edwards highlighted the accomplishments of three notable graduates, who, she said, “represent some of the greatest qualities of the fall class of 2020.” Their stories are below:
Michele Miller will receive her doctorate in environmental science.
Miller has conducted research into the public reaction to anthrax scares in 2017 and 2018 and the social response to the Zika virus in 2016. For her master’s degree, she studied misconceptions about the Ebola virus.
Miller used machine-learning methodologies to find relevant tweets and then put them into the categories related to transmission, treatment, prevention and symptoms. Her work was designed to help health officials provide real-time interventions.
Miller is interested in pursuing ways to stop bioterrorism. In 2017, she interned at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where she worked in a food defense lab.
In 2018, Miller and grad student Fan Yang captured first place in a prestigious international data competition by analyzing biomedical data to create a model that could be used to help patients with sickle cell disease better manage their pain.
Miller works for The Greentree Group, a Beavercreek-based strategic technology consulting company. After graduation, she plans to work in the defense industry.
Jugad Mattu will receive her bachelor’s degree in business and a certificate in legal studies.
Mattu says the International Business Program has given her skills in almost every field of business, including finance, marketing and management.
Mattu was president of the International Business Club, a student leader and speaker at the Take Flight Retreat in 2019, and the founder of the Food Recovery Network, a student club that focuses on delivering leftover meals and food to pantries in the area.
Following graduation, Mattu will work for AmeriCorps. She will be based in Iowa but travel all over the northern United States, helping complete hands-on projects.
Next summer, she will travel to Washington, D.C., for a teaching position with City Year, a program designed to unite young adults from diverse backgrounds for a year of community service.
Mattu eventually hopes to earn her master’s degree in international studies. Her ultimate goal is to work for the United Nations and travel the world.
Tara-Yesomi Wenegieme will receive her bachelor’s degree in biology.
Wenegieme was an integral part of a team of undergraduate researchers led by Clintoria Williams, assistant professor of physiology who linked zinc deficiency to high blood pressure.
In 2019, Wenegieme received a scientific poster presentation award for her novel research work at the Ohio Physiological Society’s Annual Meeting, a statewide scientific conference where she was pitted against students with far more training.
“Tara’s impressive ability to generate scientific data, understand the significance of her research findings and clearly communicate the gained scientific knowledge allowed her to successfully compete on a level with graduate students and postdocs who had years of research experience,” said Williams.
After graduation, Wenegieme plans to continue pursuing her passion for research and strengthen her application to medical school in hopes of getting accepted at the Boonshoft School of Medicine.