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Dec. 15, 2017
Northwest Missouri State University awarded 495 bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and education specialist certificates Friday during winter commencement ceremonies that emphasized the importance of human connections.
“Take the time to get to know your new colleagues, or just the folks you will interview with, as you venture into your first postgraduate positions,” Bilal Clarance said during his address to the graduates. “Listen and learn from anyone and everyone you can, from your manager to your peers. And when entry-level people like yourselves join, do not discard them, especially as you advance in your career, because if your heart is open you will learn from them as well.”
Clarance, a 2005 Northwest alumnus and software engineering manager at a Silicon Valley technology giant, reflected on his career, having found professional success as a co-founder and developer with several tech start-ups. A native of Copenhagen, Denmark, he came to Northwest as an international student and was a member of a Bearcat basketball team that advanced to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight and was inducted into Northwest’s M-Club Hall of Fame. He continued his basketball career after earning his college degree, playing for clubs throughout Europe and he captained the Danish men’s national team.
Technology is great, Clarance said, and he finds a thrill in developing it, but his successes are rooted in the connections he has established throughout his life. He called out his former academic advisor, Dr. Carol Spradling, the director of Northwest’s School of Computer Science and Information Systems, and his basketball coach at Northwest, Steve Tappmeyer, both of whom were in the crowd Friday and remain friends of his.
“Keep in touch with professors, friends and old colleagues as you progress and grow in your career,” Clarance said. “Thank those who help you along the way and, even more importantly, help someone else any chance you get.”
Reflecting on Clarance’s message during his own remarks, Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski encouraged graduates to make Northwest proud and “contribute to the societal good” as they enter the workforce.
“It’s making sure that we connect, not just as Bearcats but with people worldwide,” Jasinski said. “In this day and age, Bearcats learning, connecting, caring and especially practicing civility and showing pride is more important now than ever before. Your diploma is testament to your decision to live and work as an educated person. Our society needs you now more than ever.”
During introductory remarks, Jasinski celebrated Northwest’s culture, praising faculty, staff, alumni and friends for their support of the University and its students.
“This is a special culture and a special climate at Northwest Missouri State University,” Jasinski said. “Our faculty and staff help mold that and shape that, but it’s because of our students that persist and come here from different environments and work together in a collaborative fashion.”
He also took time to interact directly with the graduates, quizzing them about their experiences at Northwest and their involvement with student employment, Greek life, athletics teams and other student organizations.
He noted the significance of Northwest’s recent national championships – 13 since last December, consisting of 11 academic championships to go with NCAA Division II football and basketball titles. He also teased graduates, a majority of whom raised their hands when asked about their interactions with University Police.
“Parents and loved ones, that doesn’t mean what you think it might,” he said. “You have to understand we do have the best police department in the entire country. They’re an example of Bearcats connecting.”
Jasinski asked graduates to describe Northwest in one word, and their replies included the words home, personable, family, strong, phenomenal, prepared and amazing.
“Our testimonials, the growth that we see on a daily basis, the growth that you all see on a daily basis comes from something that’s such a gift to our society, and I hope that we continue that,” Jasinski said. “We are certainly committed to doing that at Northwest Missouri State University.”
All told, the University awarded 306 bachelor’s degrees, 184 master’s degrees and five specialist degrees during its two ceremonies Friday. The top graduate degree was applied computer science, and the most common undergraduate majors were elementary education, business management and information systems.
Geographically, 51 percent of the graduates were Missouri residents, and another 34 percent hailed from Iowa and Nebraska. International graduates represented the countries of Argentina, Colombia, Germany, Nepal and India.
Members of the graduating class ranged in age from 20 to 69.
With an enrollment of about 6,300 students, Northwest is a coeducational, primarily residential four-year university that offers a broad range of undergraduate and selected graduate programs on its Maryville campus as well as its Northwest-Kansas City location at the Northland Innovation Center and through Northwest Online.
Founded in 1905, Northwest has been ranked by U.S. News and World Report during three of the last four years as the top moderately selective regional university in Missouri, and it has met all measures of the state’s performance-based funding initiative during four of the model’s first five years. Safewise ranks the city of Maryville as one of the “Safest College Towns in America,” while BestCollegesOnline.org has named the Northwest campus one of the “50 Most Amazing University Botanical Gardens and Arboretums in the U.S.”
The University boasts a 59 percent graduation rate, which is in the 89th percentile of Northwest's national peer group. In addition, 96 percent of Northwest bachelor’s degree earners and 97 percent of master’s degree earners secure employment or continue their education within six months of graduation, according to the most recent data. Zippia, a career website, recently named Northwest the best college in Missouri for getting a job.
Northwest places a high emphasis on 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 R.T. Wright Farm, Mozingo Outdoor Education Recreation Area or Knacktive, a student-driven integrated digital marketing communications agency.
Furthermore, 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 nation, 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.
For more information about Northwest and its performance, visit www.nwmissouri.edu/facts/.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468