By Elizabeth Coss
Soon-to-be graduates of Youngstown State University will walk across the court of Beeghly Center on Dec. 18 to receive their diplomas.
Graduation rates and retention rates at the university have increased over the past seven years and this year will see over 700 students moving onto a new stage of life.
This will act not only as a final ceremony for those graduating, but also for President Jim Tressel. Tressel reflected back on his presidency and said he has experienced great pride seeing some of the largest graduating classes under his belt.
“For a long time I was a coach, and a scoreboard was important. But what’s been neat about this scoreboard is that we’ve had our largest graduating classes in the history of the university and we’re not at the largest enrollment we’ve ever been,” Tressel said.
Tressel also said the university will be returning to some normalcy, and will still offer the same energy as commencement has in the past.
This ceremony will be the first held inside since the beginning of the pandemic.
“To see that full Beeghly Center … I think you’ll feel that electricity, I think you’ll feel that excitement and I’m looking forward to it,” Tressel said.
Four main moments have always stuck out for Tressel during commencement including the turning of the tassels, shaking graduates hands as they receive their diplomas and his final words of, “By the authority vested in me by the State of Ohio.” He also stated that when the commencement speakers address those graduating, a rush fills the room.
Kendall Bartels, a forensic science major, will be the student speaker and YSU alumnus, David Lee Morgan Jr., is this semester’s keynote speaker.
Morgan is an award-winning author, journalist, sports writer and public speaker. He currently works as an English and video journalism teacher at Stow-Munroe Falls High School.
He began college in 1985 and originally studied criminal justice, but changed his degree path to professional writing and editing with a minor in journalism. He said despite his struggles and having taken quarters off while in college, he’s proud of his journey.
“There were so many pitfalls that I went through,” Morgan said. “I struggled, you know. I left school and had to come back, but when I came back, I had a different focus … I had a focus that nobody was ever going to take away from me. That’s when I excelled and I knew what I wanted to do.”
He worked as a sports writer for The Jambar in the late 80s and early 90s. He went on to write books on basketball player Lebron James, professional boxer Kelly Pavlik and Tressel. Morgan has covered a wide variety of sports including collegiate sports, NBA games and the World Series in his almost 30 years of journalism.
Morgan said returning to the university was surreal and owes his successful career to his time spent at YSU.
“I’m so proud to come back, I’m humbled. It’s just an amazing kind of — surreal kind of scenario and experience. I’m just proud as can be that I’ve got the opportunity,” Morgan said.
Fall commencement starts at 2 p.m. in the Beeghly Center. For those graduating and seeking more information on deadlines and assigned room locations per college, visit YSU’s website.