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April 30, 2016
Updated May 9, 2016
Northwest Missouri State University on Saturday celebrated 656 students who have completed their bachelor’s degrees with leaders and alumni encouraging the graduates to connect and contribute to their communities, and be customer servants.
“Your diploma is testament to your decision to live and work as an educated person,” Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski told graduates. “Our society needs you now more than ever.”
During two separate ceremonies Saturday morning and afternoon, Jasinski noted just one-third of the U.S. population holds a bachelor’s degree or above. But he didn’t let graduates slip away without giving them a light-hearted “final exam.”
Jasinski paced the aisles on the Bearcat Arena floor, quizzing students about their family legacies at Northwest, their student employment on campus, their participation in student organizations, the Greek system, athletics, internships – all hallmarks of the student experience at the institution – and how Northwest made them better people.
“Northwest is not only pride with family and friends, but it’s given me the confidence that I know I have people who believe in me, and I can fulfil all the goals and dreams I have in life,” one graduate said. “I don’t think I’d be where I am in life today without the Bearcat family.”
Jasinski also asked the graduates whether they had participated in taking down Northwest’s goalposts. Most hands went up.
“There aren’t many school that can say they have that as a tradition,” Jasinski said, referring to the Bearcat football team’s nine appearances in the NCAA Division II National Championship Game.
Rodney Edge, a 1984 Northwest alumnus and military veteran with extensive operations management experience, delivered the day’s commencement addresses. He is vice president of Automation Precision Technology, LLC, a global logistics firm specializing in business development in federal government, commercial and international sectors.
Prior to joining APT in 2014, Edge enjoyed a U.S. Army career that spanned more than 20 years and culminated as chief executive officer at Fort Lee, Virginia. Some of his previous roles also include serving as a diplomatic advisor to senior Saudi Arabian officials and as a deputy division chief at the Pentagon.
While reflecting on his own trials – from being detained at gunpoint in a foreign country to recovering from massive brain surgery – Edge emphasized the importance of living positively and maintaining a high level of customer service in whatever the graduates choose to do.
“The goal becomes how to create magic for your customers,” he said. “The goal is also to provide such an awesome experience to your profession, to your community and for your coworkers that people say, ‘Wow,’ and they want to be next to you and they want to be associated with your project without giving others an afterthought.”
Invoking words of investor Warren Buffett, former Disney Executive Vice President Lee Cockerell, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and comedian Steve Harvey, Edge encouraged the graduates to be relentlessly outgoing, visionary, transformational, and value people.
“Don’t settle for right now,” he said. “Think about how you can make yourself better, your organization better, the people around you better. Know and understand the purpose of diversity.”
Edge closed is remarks by telling graduates, “The world is your playground, so go out and play.”
The ceremony culminated a weekend that included four commencement ceremonies at Northwest. In addition to two ceremonies honoring bachelor’s degree candidates on Saturday, the University recognized master’s, specialist and doctoral degree candidates Friday evening.
Northwest organized an abbreviated fourth ceremony Friday morning in honor of Alvaro Riveros, a Bearcat tennis player who completed his bachelor’s degree in business management and marketing but could not participate in his designated ceremony Saturday because of the team’s appearance in the MIAA conference tournament. Riveros’ family, who reside in Costa Rica, were on hand for the ceremony in the J.W. Jones Student Union Boardroom along with friends and faculty and staff advisors.
In all, the University’s spring graduating class consisted of 879 students. The most common bachelor’s degrees were business management, elementary education and psychology. The most common master’s degrees were applied computer science and business administration.
Members of the graduating class ranged in age from 20 to 64 years old, and 57 percent were female. Graduates represented 31 states and 12 countries, including China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany, India, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, Saudi Arabia and Spain.
Founded in 1905, Northwest is a four-year university offering a broad range of profession-based undergraduate and graduate programs on its Maryville campus as well as locations in Kansas City and St. Joseph.
With an enrollment of 6,600 students, Northwest is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the top moderately selective regional university in Missouri for the second consecutive year. The University boasts a 59 percent graduation rate, which is in the 89th percentile of the University’s national peer group. In addition, 98 percent of Northwest bachelor’s degree earners and 99 percent of master’s degree earners secure employment or continue their education within six months of graduation, according to the most recent data.
Northwest places a high emphasis on laboratory- and profession-based learning to help graduates get a jumpstart on their careers. Students have opportunities to build their résumés with experiences on campus in nearly every area of study, including the Horace Mann Laboratory School, National Public Radio affiliate KXCV, the RT Wright Laboratory Farm, Mozingo Outdoor Education Recreation Area, the internationally ranked Dean L. Hubbard Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship or Knacktive, a student-driven integrated digital marketing communications agency.
While the Northwest campus also is designated the Missouri Arboretum, its vibrant and diverse learning community offers more than 150 student organizations, and textbooks and a laptop are included in tuition, which is among the lowest in the state, saving students an estimated $7,200 over four years. Northwest also offers 1,200 student employment positions, allowing students to build professional skills through its internationally benchmarked student employment program.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468