West Liberty University graduates enjoyed a pleasant spring morning as commencement took place on the hilltop campus. President Stephen Greiner presided over the ceremony held at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 12.
Three hundred and sixty-eight students were members of the graduating class, and a total of 403 degrees were conferred, with 35 students earning multiple degrees.
Held in the Academic, Sports and Recreation Complex (ASRC), the formalities began with music provided by the WLU Wind Ensemble under the direction of Max Ganano. The WLU Singers led the National Anthem.
Graduating student speaker, Abigail Reeves, a secondary English education major who maintained a 4.0 GPA, addressed the audience. A resident of Wheeling, she came to WLU as a transfer student from West Virginia University.
Reeves explained her background and how she picked WVU thinking she didn’t want to go to West Liberty since it was so close to home, but she quickly discovered that it offered exactly what she needed.
“West Liberty University offered me positivity, connectedness and support, and I’m proud to say that I’ve attended West Liberty,” Reeves said. “Everyone here values my education. I’ve become the person I’ve always wanted to be and found purpose for my life. I ended up exactly where I was meant to be all along.”
She thanked the faculty, naming many by name and also took time to thank her parents, David and Terri Reeves. She closed by referencing her grandmother who wouldn’t let her say goodbye, preferring that she say see you later.
“So I’ll say see you later to my fellow graduates as we all begin another great chapter in our lives.” Reeves begins graduate school in the fall, earning a coveted teaching assistant position at WVU with a full ride.
President Greiner then called commencement speaker Lisa Allen to the podium and presented her with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Allen is the CEO of Ziegenfelder Company of Wheeling, known worldwide for frozen treats.
Allen began by saying that everyone was gathered to celebrate “your life-changing milestone achievement.”
Allen then explained that she took the novel approach of meeting with graduates as she prepared her comments.
“I was spellbound by your honesty, maturity and willingness to share your feelings. Thank you. I realize that what I think you need to hear is far less significant than what you might want your university, professors and family to know.”
I heard that you love being a Hilltopper! You’ve developed life-long friendships. It may be challenging to stay as connected as you have been these last four years, however, hold fast to the relationships you’ve developed while at WLU.”
She went on to tell President Greiner, faculty and administrators that “your customers love you! WLU is an amazing, growing institution. It’s a home, a family atmosphere. This is not an easy campus to access yet WLU continues to excel with great vision and strategy, inspiring faculty and increasing enrollment. There is much to be proud of.”
She continued with other bits of wisdom gleaned from the graduating seniors including: prepare for adversity by remembering where to park, achieve your dreams by listening first, speaking last, and when feeling uncertain, be brave, be original and be yourself.
Allen ended with advice to “walk down the crowded streets of your life with a smile on your face and love in your heart, having courage to share with those you meet on your journey.”
“There is space in this beautiful world for all of us when we genuinely welcome the stranger — one person, one open heart at a time.”
A reception for graduates, guests and families immediately followed the ceremony and was held in the College Union.
The Commencement Ceremony was televised live on WLU-TV 14 (Comcast Channel 14) and online at wltvonline.com and will be rebroadcast over the weekend.
Established in 1837, West Liberty University is a forward-looking, four-year public university steeped in a rich heritage as West Virginia’s oldest institution. Today, it offers more than 70 undergraduate majors plus a growing number of graduate programs including master’s in education, physician assistant studies, biology, professional studies and two online degrees, criminology and the MBA.
For more information on WLU, visit westliberty.edu.