ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Ohio University's Eastern Campus honored graduates, scholarship recipients and student leaders at the honors and recognition convocation held Friday evening at the health and physical education center.
Dean Richard Greenlee welcomed the graduates and honorees and was followed by the student speaker Kristina Velkovich and the keynote speaker, L. Kenneth Steiner Jr.
"A college graduation ceremony is an important rite of passage into the world," said Greenlee, "one in which few people in Southeastern Ohio ever get the opportunity to achieve. These students, who sit before you, are a very special group of people, of whom we can all be exceedingly proud. I would like to personally thank the parents, spouses and friends who supported our students throughout the years, to help them achieve their dreams."
Velkovich, a member of the 2013 graduating class, was honored by Greenlee for overcoming a personal tragedy, for being a member of the first class to graduate with a bachelor's of science in social work and for her high level of involvement on campus.
"Five years ago, I was merely a young and quiet 17-year-old, eagerly awaiting high school graduation and ready to begin the next chapter in my life," said Velkovich. "I had no idea that I was about to face the biggest obstacle in my life. Losing my dad was truly a life-changing experience that still has an impact on me today. I found out that life is about overcoming obstacles, discovering what makes you happy and living your passion to the fullest each day.
"The advantages of being able to graduate from Ohio University while attending OUE are endless. I was able to save thousands of dollars in tuition, graduate debt free and develop a deeper relationship with the faculty. The professors are not only teachers in the classroom but are also looked upon as life mentors who are willing to support the students in any way possible. For that, I personally am truly grateful."
Steiner Jr. attended Ohio University Eastern for two years before relocating to Athens and graduating with a bachelor's degree in education. He went on to earn a master's degree in guidance and counseling from the University of Dayton. He is a guidance counselor at Shadyside High School.
"I am honored to have the opportunity to come back home and speak here tonight," said Steiner Jr. "Reflecting back, I have spent the last 56 years in education, 17 as a student and 39 as an educator, yet the two years I spent at OUE stand out as two of the most meaningful for me. This was, in essence, the start to my career."
Greenlee concluded the ceremony by congratulating this year's candidates on earning their Ohio University degrees.
Area graduates include:
Dillonvale: Lace French, Krista Hancher-Palmer, Gunner Rea.
Jewett: Jennifer Haren.
Mingo Junction: Jessica Graham, Susan McPeek.
Rayland: Cavin Bell, Jennifer Kourim, Abagale Schrickel-Sempkowski, Rachel Stuart.
Richmond: Randall Proffitt.
Tiltonsville: Erica Barath, Angela Rizzo, Miranda Ronevich, Charles Sempkowski.
Wintersville: Amanda Glasure.
Yorkville: Kara Hunker.