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A pair of Northwest graduates share a laugh during one of Saturday's two commencement ceremonies celebrating bachelor's degree candidates. (Photos by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

A pair of Northwest graduates share a laugh during one of Saturday's two commencement ceremonies celebrating bachelor's degree candidates. (Photos by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

April 28, 2018

Northwest celebrates connections, 657 bachelor’s degree candidates


Dr. Katy Strickland delivered Saturday's commencement addresses, offering five nuggets of wisdom to graduates.

Dr. Katy Strickland delivered Saturday's commencement addresses, offering five nuggets of wisdom to graduates.

University Police Chief Clarence Green and Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski had some fun with graduates, surveying them about their experiences at the University.

University Police Chief Clarence Green and Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski had some fun with graduates, surveying them about their experiences at the University.

Shelby and Karissa Lloyd, pictured with Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski, were among three sets of twins to graduate from Northwest with bachelor's degrees on Saturday.

Shelby and Karissa Lloyd, pictured with Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski, were among three sets of twins to graduate from Northwest with bachelor's degrees on Saturday.

An empty chair with a football jersey and helmet paid tribute to Nicholas Turner, who passed away while attending the University in 2016 and was on track to graduate this spring.

An empty chair with a football jersey and helmet paid tribute to Nicholas Turner, who passed away while attending the University in 2016 and was on track to graduate this spring.

Leaders of Northwest Missouri State University on Saturday challenged graduates to keep connecting, be future-focused and be part of the solutions needed in their communities as the University celebrated 657 students who completed the requirements to earn bachelor’s degrees this spring.

“Your role has been to challenge yourselves, to grow, to fail, to get up, to connect, to connect with one another, to connect with our University of community, the city of Maryville and the region, to connect with our alumni, to connect with employers and to connect with our faculty and staff,” Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski told the graduates. “‘Bearcats Connect,’ the slogan that we use, is so very important because it does contribute to success.”

Dr. Katy Strickland, who is Northwest’s recipient of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education this spring, delivered Saturday’s commencement addresses and offered “nuggets of wisdom” to the graduates. She joined the Northwest faculty in 2013 and serves as assistant professor of music and director of athletic bands, playing a significant role in the renewal and growth of the Bearcat Marching Band. She was appointed chair of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts last year.

“Knowledge is powerful information,” she said. “Wisdom is an understanding of how to use it. Because if you aren’t wise about your interactions with the world, it doesn’t matter how much you know — very few people will listen to you.”

She encouraged the graduates to be kind and helpful, to say please and thank you, smile at others and hold open doors for them, have a firm handshake and listen to people’s responses after asking how they’re doing. And when things don’t go as expected, she said, roll with it.

“You see, the world we live in is circular,” Strickland said. “So many of the things you send out move away from you and start a boomerang-like path. They go out into the world and then come back – sometimes sooner, sometimes later — and either lightly land on your shoulder when you most need it or smack you in the back of the head with a cosmic payback.”

Strickland challenged graduates to focus on their journeys and growth – “It’s not about the concert, it’s about the rehearsals” – and to contribute more to the world then they take from it. She urged graduates to show care for others, and to do it by having face-to-face conversations.

“Take the time to flip the camera view,” Strickland said. “Look outward. Consider another’s viewpoint. Lend them a hand. Lift them up. Donate your time and some of the money you’re about to start making.”

Saturday’s ceremonies included plenty of memorable moments, including when Jasinski, with University Police Chief Clarence Green at his side, took to the Bearcat Arena floor for a light-hearted chat with the graduates about their experiences at Northwest. The pair surveyed students about their coffee preferences on campus, parking tickets and their favorite places to dance, among other topics. They also recognized and kidded three sets of twins who were graduating.

Nelson and Tissani Butler were among the students receiving degrees Saturday afternoon and crossed the commencement stage with their young daughter, Sapphire, who also was dressed in a graduation gown.

Also during Saturday’s afternoon ceremony, the University paid tribute to Nicholas Turner, a St. Louis native who was a junior corporate recreation and wellness major at the University when he died in January 2016. Turner was a member of the Bearcat football team and was on pace to graduate this spring. Turner's family was in attendance for the ceremony and Northwest adorned an empty chair in the first row of seats with his jersey and a helmet in his honor.

Two ceremonies on Saturday concluded Northwest’s commencement weekend at Northwest, which began with the University honoring 201 master’s degree and specialist degree recipients during a Friday evening ceremony. The University hosted two ceremonies Saturday with graduates of the Melvin D. and Valorie G. Booth School of Business, the School of Agricultural Sciences, the School of Education, and the School of Computer Science and Information Systems participating in a morning ceremony. Saturday’s afternoon ceremony honored graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Health Science and Wellness, and the School of Communication and Mass Media.

In all, the University awarded 858 degrees during the weekend with the top bachelor’s degree being business management and the most popular master’s degree being applied computer science.

The spring graduates range in age from 19 years old to 57. They represented 23 states and 12 countries, with 64 percent of graduates hailing from within the state of Missouri.

Northwest’s spring’s graduating class also is strong academically with 212 students graduating with honors, having earned a cumulative grade-point average of 3.5 or higher. Thirty-nine students graduated summa cum laude, signifying GPAs of 3.95 and above.

About Northwest Missouri State University

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. 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 graduate rate in the 89th percentile of its national peer group. In addition, 97.4 percent of Northwest bachelor’s degree earners and nearly 99.8 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, 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 SchoolNational 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/aboutus/facts/.


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468