Commencement Ceremonies Held at Kent State University’s Columbiana County Campuses
Columbiana County – Kent State University at East Liverpool and Kent State University at Salem each held commencement ceremonies tonight, during which Dean Dr. Steve Nameth presented diplomas to more than 200 graduates who participated in the two events.
The keynote speakers were Kent State alumni Michael Parkes, addressing the East Liverpool graduates, and John McCord, speaking to the Salem graduates. Each congratulated the graduates and acknowledged their achievements, but each speaker also challenged them to give back to their communities.
“Use your education, your creativity, your time and your skills, not just for the satisfaction and the gains it will bring to you, but for the good it will do others,” Parkes urged the East Liverpool grads. “Help sow the seeds for future Kent State East Liverpool students.”
Born and raised in East Liverpool, Parkes recently retired after 20 year as the community and employee relations manager at Heritage-WTI Inc. He is active in the East Liverpool community, serving on numerous boards and with several civic organizations, and is a member of the Kent State East Liverpool Campus Advisory Board. He graduated in 1973 from Kent State University with a bachelor of arts degree in mathematics, and later enrolled in graduate courses at Kent State.
Parkes referenced the Georgetown University Center for Education and Workforce Lifetime Earnings data and told the graduates that they can each expect to earn $2 million during their working lives. “That’s about $400 per week more than someone with just a high school diploma,” he said. “Enjoy your job or go do something else. We all spend too many hours each year working to be miserable.”
Parkes also reminded graduates of their individual responsibilities. “Today marks the point of your life when you’re given the opportunity to reinvent yourself, to set goals and to commit yourself to your career and your future,” he said. “Part of your responsibility for obtaining your degree is sharing the success and joy with those who helped you obtain it. You leave here with a responsibility to take what you have learned and apply it.”
Addressing the Kent State Salem audience, McCord shared that when he graduated from Southern Local High School, he headed to Ohio State University where he thought he would be able to walk onto the football or basketball team, and where he dreamed of being on the Dean’s list.
“Needless to say, I did not play football or basketball, nor academically land on the Dean’s list at Ohio State, and after the completion of my freshman year, it was quite obvious that Ohio State was not for me,” McCord shared. “I was experiencing a ‘crisis of confidence’ in myself at this time as to whether or not college was for me, but Kent State Salem turned all of that around by providing the support and educational environment that I needed at that time.”
McCord earned two degrees from Kent State: the first was a bachelor of arts in political science in 1971, followed in 1973 by a master of education degree with an emphasis in special education. He is co-owner of Whitaker-Myers Insurance Group in Wooster, where he also served as chairman of the board and chief executive officer.
“Commencement speeches are often filled with such phrases as ‘reach for the stars’ or ‘follow your dreams,’ but what if your dreams, like mine, may be unrealistic or out of the question financially, or just downright impossible to achieve,” he asked. “Many of us don’t allow ourselves to be open to new paths or direction and never think to embrace the unexpected.”
McCord also reminded the graduates of their responsibilities and challenged them to give back to their communities. “You must realize that with your new, life-changing event this evening also comes added responsibility and the need for leadership from you as individuals, and all of you as a group,” he said. “I encourage you to give back to the communities from where you came.
“The donation of your time is one of the most important things you can do to improve your community. Donating money to these organizations is important sometimes, but donating your time and skills can be more important,” McCord continued. “Don’t forget to encourage and support other people to accomplish what you have accomplished. We all need to inspire the next generation of students who enroll at Kent State Salem.”
Between Kent State East Liverpool and Kent State Salem, more than 27 degrees are offered. Students may also start any one of Kent State University’s 250 bachelor’s degrees on a local campus. For more information on the Kent State University Columbiana County campuses, please visit www.col.kent.edu, or, call Kent State East Liverpool at 330-385-3805 or
Kent State Salem at 330-332-0361.