‘Tell a story:’ Commencement celebrations honor university’s 154th graduating class

The+class+of+2023+screams+%E2%80%9CGo+Beavs%21%E2%80%9D+together+as+is+tradition+in+Reser+Stadium+during+the+2023+OSU+Commencement+ceremony+on+June+17.+The+strength+of+their+voices+could+be+heard+from+well+outside+the+stadium.

Matthew McKenna

The class of 2023 screams “Go Beavs!” together as is tradition in Reser Stadium during the 2023 OSU Commencement ceremony on June 17. The strength of their voices could be heard from well outside the stadium.

As Oregon weather shifted from cloudy and cold to scorching sun, 7,300 graduates in Oregon State University’s 154th class were conferred degrees in the 2023 commencement ceremony at Reser Stadium on June 17.

The university-wide ceremony celebrated graduates on the Corvallis campus, OSU-Cascades and Ecampus, consisting of graduates from 71 countries and all 50 states, according to OSU statistics.

All graduates lined up in various points around campus, divided by college, while audience members formed a crowd at the entrance to Reser Stadium.

One graduate, Javier Rivera, a first-generation student who studied agricultural sciences, felt his experience at OSU gave him communication skills and leadership skills to prepare for the workforce.

“I didn’t expect to be here, to be honest. We went through COVID,” Rivera said. “That was a tough year, tough year for everybody.”

Once the processional began, graduates walked in lines across OSU’s roads into Reser Stadium’s field. After Ph.D. and masters degree graduates arrived, baccalaureates filed in, lined up by their affiliated college with orange banners held high in front.

Once the procession settled down, OSU President Jayathi Murthy gave a brief speech congratulating the graduates on their accomplishments before Dr. Charity Dean, CEO of The Public Health Company and OSU alumnus, spoke to share her story of how she rose above her circumstances to change the world.

“You have a choice. As you walk from here, OSU graduating class of 2023, you are setting out to tell a story. I know that every one of you can tell it wisely,” Dr. Dean said. “That version that you choose will shape you.”

The degrees were presented and conferred after several more speakers gave their congratulations. Ph.D. graduates were named individually, after which the other graduates were called to rise and cheer for their respective colleges.

Out of all the graduates, two graduates received three degrees each and one graduate received a total of four, with the oldest graduate at 72 years of age and the youngest at 18, according to OSU statistics.

More information about the graduating class can be found here.

Ilene Rodriguez Garcia, a second-generation graduate who studied biohealth sciences with an option in pre-pharmacy, advises new students to get involved right away and find lifelong friends. For Rodriguez, graduation felt like the release of four-years’ worth of built up emotion.

For Harley Bruno, a first-generation student in mechanical engineering, graduation felt like a surreal bubble. At OSU, Bruno found his community and a degree that felt comfortable to him, with both wonderful feelings for graduation and sad ones as it also means that his friends will be further away.

“OSU has taught me to be more patient and observant of the different problems that I’m going to face in life,” Bruno said. “I’m also a student parent: I’ve got a four year old and a one year old, so being a first generation student and a student parent has definitely been challenging.”

As commencement neared its end, both graduates and audience members trickled out of Reser Stadium, eventually filling Parker Plaza and surrounding areas to celebrate their accomplishments.

“I wanted to just thank all my professors, and all of the friends and colleagues that I’ve here at Oregon State,” Bruno said. “It’s really been an incredible experience and without help from my university advisors, my mentors, my parents, my friends and family, I wouldn’t have made it all this way.”

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