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Continuing the Dream

IRONTON — Education never ends. It only makes a person smarter, wiser and stronger.

That belief was the major theme discussed by many of the 341 Ohio University Southern graduates who secured associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees during the school’s graduation recognition program Friday night at the Ironton campus.

The class of 2009 started the process of planting the seeds of their life-long careers in front of an energetic and proud crowd in Shafer Courtyard. The threat of rain held out long enough that, by the conclusion of the ceremony, slivers of sun were peaking onto the campus grounds.

Wearing matching black caps and gowns with a rainbow of tassel colors to identify specific degree majors, graduates marched single file to a gathering of chairs on the east side of the courtyard.

In total, the school awarded 126 associate degrees, 211 bachelor degrees and four master degrees. Of the 341 students’ eligible Friday night, 132 participated in the exercises.

From the start, it was obvious the OUS faculty and staff were excited for the soon-to-be-degree holders.

“It is our great joy to be sharing this graduation moment with all of you,” Interim Dean Dr. Bill Willan told the graduates.

Dr. Miki Crawford, faculty academic division coordinator, said the growth of the Ironton campus and Proctorville Center has resulted in a staggering jump of graduates. Crawford said that in 1981, the school awarded 46 degrees compared to the 341 this year.

Crawford also gave a pair of faculty awards to Dr. Yehong Shao, assistant professor of mathematics and Nicole Pennington, associate director for the Center of Nursing Education.

Vocalist Steve Shelton, OUS class of 2008, continued the theme of the evening with a pair of solo numbers including Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” that produced its share of tears in graduates and family alike.

In his charge, Willan praised the graduates on the determination and dedication each showed in achieving their current goal.

“No one said this day was going to be easy,” Willan said in explaining the amount of time and effort graduates took to receive their degrees. “Graduates, your persistence, dedication, commitment, sacrifice and hard work have finally paid off.”

“Your education must not end,” Willan added later in his speech. “Continue to educate to do what you love and love what you do.”

That continuation suits graduate Megan Christian just fine.

“I’m happy I graduated at least,” Christian said after receiving her associate’s in applied science with a specialty in human services technology. The Coal Grove resident, who also works at King’s Daughters Medical Center, said she will be returning to OUS in the fall to start the journey towards her bachelor’s degree.

Graduate Christopher Cecil took a similar approach.

“Today is a mark in everyone’s life that we’ve strived for at various levels,” Cecil said.

The Ironton resident was awarded an associate degree in science and is returning to OUS this fall to work towards his bachelor’s degree. Cecil plans on becoming a science teacher.