Graduating students and their families celebrated the culmination of their education at Wright State University’s fall commencement ceremonies on Dec. 10 and 11 at the Wright State Nutter Center.
The graduates joined more than 116,000 alumni who are making a difference throughout Raider Country, all over Ohio, across the nation and around the world.
The ceremonies included a brief video message from Gov. Mike DeWine, who said, “The state of Ohio and the Dayton region need Wright State graduates like you. We succeed when you succeed.”
Wright State University President Sue Edwards, Ph.D., addressed the class, urging students, family and friends to savor the accomplishment of earning a college degree and to drive toward their next adventure.
“The world has changed in many ways since you started your educational journey at Wright State University,” said Edwards. “It has been a time of great challenge but also one of great opportunity. Because you are here today I know you have met those challenges.”
She drew attention to the unique experiences graduates acquired under the circumstances, skills developed to cope and thrive in the pandemic, and the invaluable traits this class used to cross the finish line.
“You had the drive to go to college. … You took the initiative to figure out how to apply yourself.… You, time and time again, showed your adaptability. … You demonstrated the persistence employers are desperate for. … You quite simply are resilient,” said Edwards. “We celebrate not just your success as a student today but also your uniquely honed ability to overcome obstacles in front of you and succeed in ways you might not have dreamed you ever would.”
Edwards called attention to the many paths that graduating students walked to earn their degrees, noting that some students came directly from high school, some transferred from other universities, and still others came to Wright State after earning degrees at community college partners.
“Just as there is no singular path that brings every graduate to this wonderful moment, there is also no single answer for what path to take next,” said Edwards. “All that matters is that you got yourself here and you are ready to take the next step in your journey now armed with a valuable college degree.”
Edwards left graduates with a simple request and a bit of advice that she said had served as an important reminder for her in moments like these.
“We may say to ourselves, ‘wow, we managed to get through that?’ ‘Look how far we have come.’ ‘Look at what we just proved we can do.’ Spend a few moments today and do that,” said Edwards. “But I’d caution you with a simple bit of advice that’s served me well through the years. It’s one that I’ve come to appreciate even more these days. Don’t look back. You’re not going that way.
“On this commencement day, you have set your path. You are moving forward,” she continued. “Your path ahead has endless possibilities. I beg of you today to set your sights on the future. Spend most of your time driving toward your next adventure. Visualize where you are going and make a plan for turning that into reality. And show the world what Wright State Raiders are truly made of!
“Congratulations, fall class of 2021! You are truly awesome! Go forth and be brilliant!”
The summer and fall classes of 2021 included graduates with 749 bachelor’s degrees, 360 master’s degrees, 53 doctoral degrees and 19 associate degrees.
The classes featured 89 international students from 23 different countries. India boasted the largest number of international graduates, with 40.
The four youngest graduating students were 19, earning an associate degree in business and administration and bachelor’s degrees in management, psychology and sports science. The two oldest graduates were 65, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in organizational studies.
- Graduates by college:
- College of Engineering and Computer Science: 198
- College of Health, Education and Human Services: 276
- College of Liberal Arts: 170
- College of Science and Mathematics: 193
- Raj Soin College of Business: 280
- Lake Campus: 40
- Boonshoft School of Medicine: 20 (master’s degree only)
Kara Combs, of Englewood, received her master’s degree in industrial and human factors engineering after earning her bachelor’s in industrial and systems engineering last May.
Combs was recently named a Laureate by Tau Beta Pi for her service, a highly prestigious honor. It was the third award she received from the national college engineering honor society.
Previously, she received a highly competitive Tau Beta Pi fellowship for advanced study and in 2019 received an undergraduate scholarship.
Earlier this year, Combs received the James W. Barany Student Award for Excellence from the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers. The award recognizes undergraduate students who have brought distinction to industrial engineering at their universities.
Combs was also on a team of Wright State business students who won the top student award from a regional information technology organization for using data analytics to predict the speed of pet adoption.
After graduation, Combs plans to work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and enroll in a Ph.D. program. She intends to stay involved in the Dayton community by volunteering with professional societies and local organizations.
The Bellbrook High School graduate decided to major in supply chain management because he had an interest in logistics and discovered he was good at it and enjoyed it. Then he went to France in 2019 as part of Wright State’s Ambassador Program.
“It was an incredible experience,” said Siefert, who has always enjoyed learning about different languages and cultures. “We spent one week in Nice and two in Paris. After returning to the U.S. I decided to change my French minor to a second major.”
Siefert said Wright State has prepared him to succeed by giving him the knowledge and experiences that will help him for the rest of his life.
“I would especially like to highlight the French department,” he said. “All of the French professors are unbelievably kind, caring and knowledgeable. I have learned so much more than just French with them.”
Siefert intends to pursue a career in supply chain management internationally.
Charles Wright received his bachelor’s degree in art with an emphasis in painting.
Wright worked professionally as an in-house corporate graphic designer focusing on school and planning products. He currently has clients who rely on him for marketing, video and design. In addition, he teaches design as an adjunct faculty member in the Visual Communications Department at Sinclair Community College.
Wright said his time at Wright State helped him dive more deeply into art and influence his design work in a way he hadn’t predicted.
“Art and design are different, but have many connections,” he said. “Taking this time to focus on art and art history has given me a stronger background in a subject that influences my career field.”
Wright plans to use his degree to continue to make art and pursue teaching.
“The department does a great job at giving students the tools to continue to create artwork on their own after college,” he said. “My time here has also influenced my teaching. It’s been great to be in the classroom and see how other creative people teach.”