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Dec. 16, 2016
Northwest Missouri State University awarded 568 bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and education specialist certificates during its winter commencement ceremonies Friday as leaders encouraged the graduates to keep learning and contribute to society in positive ways.
“Your diploma is testament to your decision to live and to work as an educated person,” Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski told graduates. “Our society needs you now more than ever.”
He added, “Go forth and make Northwest proud as you contribute to the societal good. Continue learning, connecting, caring, practicing civility and showing your Bearcat pride.”
The University awarded 317 bachelor’s degrees during an afternoon ceremony. It awarded 241 master’s degrees and 10 specialist degrees during a morning ceremony. The top graduate degree was applied computer science, and the most common undergraduate major was elementary education.
Members of the graduating class ranged in age from 20 to 64 years old, and 51 percent were female.
Geographically, the class included 293 residents of Missouri, the most of the 14 states represented. Forty-three represented Iowa, and 28 represented Nebraska. The graduates represented seven countries with 169 graduates from India; other countries represented included China, Germany, Korea, Nigeria and Taiwan.
Dr. Margie Vandeven, commissioner of education for the state of Missouri, gave the day’s commencement addresses. She challenged graduates to embrace technology and innovation while holding on to their values in a world that is evolving at a pace never seen before.
She reinforced Northwest’s values of strategic thinking, collaboration, respect, integrity and lifelong learning.
“You have and you will continue to experience change in your lives," she said. "Some change you will embrace. Some change you will not. But in either case you will be left in an awkward place if you’re not prepared. The importance of continuous learning and knowing who you are and what you stand for has never been more important.”
Reflecting on the beginnings of her career as a communication arts teacher in O’Fallon, Missouri, and her transition to an entry-level position at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Vandeven encouraged graduates to follow their passions but remain open to new opportunities, personal and professional development, no matter the scope.
“That entry-level position was followed by four promotions before I was appointed the commissioner two years ago,” she said. “And I can assure you that I learned something new in every one of those positions. I really hate to think about what would have happened had I not accepted that first entry-level position for fear that I may have been overqualified.”
With #NeverSettle as the tagline of Northwest’s football team during 2016 and on the eve of its appearance in the NCAA Division II football national championship game, it was fitting that Vandeven also told graduates not to settle.
“May you enjoy lives of curiosity and learning, of hope in the face of uncertainly and of self-worth while serving others,” she said. “These outcomes are the result of conscious choices, determination and focus, and the choice is yours.”
Founded in 1905, Northwest is a four-year university that offers 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 more than 6,500 students, Northwest was ranked in 2015 and 2016 by U.S. News and World Report as the top moderately selective regional university in Missouri, and it recently met all measures of the state’s performance-based funding initiative for the fourth time in the last five years. Northwest also provides a significant impact on the regional economy, generating $617.5 million in added regional income – the equivalent of creating 9,465 new jobs – during 2014, according to a 2015 economic impact study.
Northwest boasts a 49 percent graduation rate, which is in the 85th percentile of the University’s national peer group. In addition, 97 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 resumes with experiences on campus in nearly every area of study, including the Horace Mann Laboratory School, National Public Radio affiliate KXCV, the RT Wright Farm, Mozingo Outdoor Education Recreation Area, the internationally ranked Dean L. Hubbard Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and 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 $7,300 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