Kent State Columbiana County Campuses Hold Commencement 2012

Columbiana County – Kent State University at East Liverpool and Kent State University at Salem provide high quality and affordable access to higher education.  This was demonstrated Friday when more than 390 students graduated from Kent State University at East Liverpool and Kent State University at Salem during the campuses' annual spring commencement ceremonies. The graduating class had representatives from all of Kent State East Liverpool and Kent State Salem's 26 local degrees, which included those students graduating with one of the campuses' 12 bachelor's degrees.

Dr. Kristen Figg, professor emerita of English, addressed Kent State Salem's graduates, while Dr. Thomas Graham, adjunct professor, presented at Kent State East Liverpool's commencement ceremony. Both are Kent State alumni.

Dr. Graham addressed Kent State East Liverpool graduates telling them to focus on the importance of learning and using one's time wisely. "Realize our time on this earth is limited.  All of you have shown that you already know this by the fact that you are graduating this evening," Graham said.  "You have used your time wisely, and I would advise you to never forget that. By being here tonight you have already demonstrated that you have the ability and the determination to overcome struggles and adversity," he said.

He congratulated the students on their success, wished them good luck on their life's journey, and encouraged them to give back to their local community. 

At Kent State Salem, Dr. Figg quoted nineteenth-century teacher and lecturer Ralph Waldo Emerson by stating "We are always getting ready to live, but never living." Figg challenged graduates to live in the current moment and seize the opportunities that are new every day.  She congratulated the students on their academic successes and encouraged them to avoid pressures of following the crowd, to make their own way, think critically and to do good to others and to themselves.

Laura O'Wesney, radiologic technology graduate, also addressed the Salem crowd with a sense of achievement and pride. A non-traditional student, O'Wesney spoke of the challenges of being a college student and quickly explained why classifications such as "non-traditional student" held no credence to what being a college student is all about. 

"We all had the same goal. We all wanted to better ourselves didn't we? We all wanted to learn. So I ask you, am I really a non-traditional student just because I am not recently out of high school?" O' Wesney asked.  "Some of us spent our evenings and weekends running to and from our children's sports practices, tournaments, concerts, paying bills, and keeping a house running during our college years, but we are no different than every traditional student out there.

"As each of us makes that traditional walk across this stage to collect our well-earned diplomas tonight, I believe we are all the same. We are all traditional students. We are traditional students in the sense that we came to here to achieve that same traditional goal of a higher education and attaining a dream."

At Kent State East Liverpool, mother and daughter team Dena Bentz and Katie Parr were thrilled to celebrate the completion of their bachelor degrees in criminology and justice studies together. 

"Kent State East Liverpool really made it possible for me to earn a college degree," Bentz said. "I learned a great deal in my field of study, but was also challenged to make a difference in the community."

Her daughter added, "I know my experiences at Kent State Liverpool have prepared me for law school, and I am proud to now officially be a Kent State University graduate," Parr said.

Between Kent State East Liverpool and Kent State Salem, more than 25 degrees are offered locally, including 12 bachelor's degrees. Students may also start any one of Kent State University's 236 bachelor's degrees.  For more information on the Kent State University Columbiana County campuses, please visit, or, call Kent State East Liverpool at 330-385-3805 or Kent State Salem at 330-332-0361.

Photo Caption: Student speaker Laura O' Wesney addresses the crowd during Kent State Salem's graduation ceremonies. More than 390 students graduated from Kent State East Liverpool and Kent State Salem this spring.

POSTED: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 11:42 AM
UPDATED: Thursday, December 08, 2022 09:14 AM