Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who has led efforts to minimize the health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, will deliver a brief video message to graduating students during Wright State University’s spring commencement ceremonies.
DeWine, a former prosecutor, state representative, state senator, congressman, state attorney general, lieutenant governor and U.S. senator, makes his home in nearby Greene County.
Nearly 1,900 students are expected to graduate during Wright State’s spring commencement ceremonies in the Wright State Nutter Center on Friday, April 30, and Saturday, May 1.
Tickets are required to attend the ceremonies. University health and safety protocols, including the campus mask requirements and physical distancing, will be observed at all ceremonies. Because of the pandemic, Wright State held virtual commencement ceremonies for its spring, summer and fall 2020 graduates.
Mary H. Boosalis, president and CEO of Premier Health, will also deliver a video message to graduates during the commencement ceremonies. She plans to tell students that their efforts to overcome the challenges of the pandemic is a testament to their resolve and has prepared them for future success.
Boosalis has served in progressively expanded leadership roles throughout her career with Premier Health, which is one of the largest health systems in southwest Ohio, with nearly 3000 physicians on staff and more than 13,000 employees. She has served as executive sponsor for the health system in developing and launching the Premier Health-Wright State University Neurosciences Research Institute and has been a key leader in collaborative efforts to decrease opioid use and addiction issues in the region.
Wright State will hold four separate commencement ceremonies at the Wright State Nutter Center to accommodate COVID-19 protocols and restrictions:
- Graduate School (master’s, Ph.D., and Ed.D. graduates): Friday, April 30, at 7 p.m.
- Raj Soin College of Business and College of Education and Human Services: Saturday, May 1, at 10 a.m.
- College of Engineering and Computer Science and College of Science and Mathematics: Saturday, May 1, at 2 p.m.
- College of Liberal Arts and College of Nursing and Health: Saturday, May 1, at 6 p.m.
The spring class of 2021 includes graduates with 1,434 bachelor’s degrees, 455 master’s degrees, 28 doctoral degrees and 28 associate degrees.
The class features 90 international students from 19 different countries. India boasts the largest number of foreign graduates, with 50.
The two youngest graduating students are 18, earning an associate degree in technical studies and bachelor’s degrees in liberal studies and sociology. The oldest graduate is 65, earning a bachelor’s degree in English.
Graduates by college:
- College of Education and Human Services: 154
- College of Engineering and Computer Science: 263
- College of Liberal Arts: 323
- College of Nursing and Health: 153
- College of Science and Mathematics: 235
- Raj Soin College of Business: 268
- Lake Campus: 460
- Boonshoft School of Medicine: 29 (master’s degree only)
The ceremonies will also be broadcast live on WSU-TV on Time Warner Cable channel 21.105 in the university dorms and Fairborn and regionally on AT&T Uverse channel 99 in the Dayton tab.
Notable spring class of 2021 graduates
Darnell K. Adrian Williams
Darnell K. Adrian Williams will receive his bachelor’s degree in neuroscience with high honors and plans to pursue a dual M.D./Ph.D. with a Ph.D. in neuroscience.
Williams has been involved in computational neuroscience research and bioinformatics work. He has worked at the World Health Organization in Switzerland and participated in a research project involving computational biology and gene sequencing at Harvard Medical School. He also worked in a computational neuroscience lab researching alternate treatment for depression at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.
Williams was appointed by the Wright State Senate president to sit on the Ohio Undergraduate Mission Study Committee and has testified several times before Ohio General Assembly committees.
In 2018, Williams was a Newman Civic Fellow, a prestigious one-year fellowship for community-committed college students organized by Campus Compact.
He is also a leader and co-founder of the Retain the 9 Initiative, an effort to support and retain more underrepresented students at Wright State.
Williams has served as the executive director of the Ohio Student Government Association and is graduating as president of the Wright State student body after having served as vice president for two years prior.
Megan Lawson will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, has a full-time job waiting with a major aerospace company and is the 2021 Intern of the Year in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
Lawson interned at Collins Aerospace, a Raytheon Technologies subsidiary and one of the world’s largest suppliers of aerospace and defense products. It is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, but has an operation in Troy, Ohio.
Lawson first worked at Collins in the company’s warehouse as a summer job for two years. She transferred to the Wheel Assembly Manufacturing unit toward the end of her time as summer help and later was asked to take on more responsibilities after a manufacturing engineer left the company for another opportunity.
Management was so impressed with Lawson that they lifted a hiring freeze and is giving her a full-time job as a manufacturing engineer after she graduates May 1.
Long-term, Lawson plans to continue working in manufacturing engineering and the operations field.
Lee and Megan McKarns
Father/daughter duo Lee and Megan McKarns will share the spotlight in picking up Wright State degrees.
Megan will receive a dual bachelor’s degree in international studies and Spanish, graduating summa cum laude and as an outstanding senior in the College of Liberal Arts and the Department of Modern Languages as well as with departmental honors in international studies.
Her father will receive a Master of Information Systems from the Raj Soin College of Business.
Both carry 4.0 grade point averages.
Lee worked at Wright State for 25 years, most of them managing education technology in the Center for Teaching and Learning. He currently works as special assistant to the chief information officer at Central State University and plans to continue his role there following graduation.
“Megan is proof that GPAs are a result of effort,” said Lee. “I can honestly say that in my 26-plus years in higher education, I have not seen a harder working student than my daughter. There would be many nights that I would go to bed at 1-2 a.m. and there would be Megan in her bedroom still chugging away at her schoolwork.”
Megan has been involved with the Amigos Latinos Student Association on its E-board and has traveled to El Salvador several times with her church — most recently in 2019 — working with families and performing mission work.
“It has been such a great experience being a college student with my dad,” Megan said. “He has been such a great motivation to me, watching him wake up early and go to bed late in order to juggle an extremely busy job on top of his graduate work. I couldn’t have asked for a better set of parents to encourage me in all of my hard work.”
Following graduation, Megan plans to work with immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley.
“Megan has been an inspiration to me,” said Lee. “I have watched her blossom into a confident young woman who is ready to take on the world. I couldn’t be prouder.”