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April 29, 2016
Northwest Missouri State University on Friday night awarded 223 master’s and specialist degrees to begin its weekend of spring commencement ceremonies.
Additionally, Northwest recognized five candidates for its Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership offered jointly with the University of Missouri-Columbia. The candidates will have their degrees conferred by the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Just one-third of the U.S. population holds a bachelor’s degree or above, Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski noted during his opening remarks. He praised the graduates for the courage they exhibited to pursue degrees and encouraged them to contribute to the communities they go on to serve.
“Your role has been to learn, grow, challenge yourself, expand your horizons, ask questions, ask more questions, and be discerning in the way of leading with integrity, treating others with respect, having sound reasoning and providing facts as you address and solve issues of all types,” Jasinski said.
David Edwards, a vice president and fellow at Cerner, a global health care information technology company headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, delivered the evening’s commencement address.
During 24 years with Cerner, Edwards has been instrumental in leading Cerner through pivotal shifts in technology and architecture. He also has been influential in incubating and promoting the use of collaborative and agile development methodologies. In 2008, he was awarded the Cerner fellow designation in recognition for his distinguished technical contributions.
Edwards earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science with a minor in mathematics in 1991 from Northwest, where he also serves as a member of the Computer Science Professional Advisory Board.
Edwards reflected on the lessons he learned at Northwest and the skills he developed while establishing his career at Cerner. Edwards emphasized the importance of communication, relationships and leadership and conveyed to the graduates that learning never stops.
“The lessons in leadership were frequent, and sometimes they were unpleasant,” Edwards said. “The opportunities to lead are actually quite plentiful in this world, but leadership should not be confused with being in a position of leadership. True leadership is earned, it’s not given. People follow you because they trust you, and that trust must be earned.”
One of the reasons Edwards chose to attend Northwest, he said, was that every residence hall room was equipped with a computer terminal. In fact, Northwest, in 1987, became the first comprehensive networked campus in the nation at a public university.
“So Northwest was quite progressive in creating a unique student experience as the age that computing was blossoming,” Edwards said. “The ability to access a computer at any time of day gave me the opportunity to pursue personal learning interests outside of academics. And those personal projects would later prove to be instrumental in contributing to a distinguished career as a software engineer.”
The ceremony was the first of three commencement ceremonies during the weekend at Northwest. The University will award bachelor’s degrees during two ceremonies Saturday.
In all, the University’s spring graduating class consists of 879 students. The most common master’s degrees are applied computer science and business administration. The most common bachelor’s degrees are business management, elementary education and psychology.
Members of the graduating class ranged in age from 20 to 64 years old, and 57 percent are female. Graduates represent 31 states and 12 countries, and they include 583 Missouri residents.
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