International Graduates Celebrated during Ballroom Reception
On Wednesday, May 10, a few days before Spring 2017 Commencement ceremonies, approximately 400 graduating international students and their friends and family gathered in the Kent Student Ballroom to celebrate their upcoming achievement during the annual International Graduate Student Reception. During the event, students shared congratulations about their upcoming rite-of-passage, traded selfies, enjoyed the food and refreshments provided and reflected on their long, yet all-too-short academic journey at Kent State University. The graduates in attendance also received a commemorative stole listing their home countries, which they could wear during the upcoming commencement ceremony.
The reception was co-sponsored by the Office of Global Education and the Kent State Alumni Association and included a short presentation hosted by emcees Desnee Stevens, Director of International Student and Scholar Services, and Carrie Circosta, Associate Director of International Alumni Relations. The highlight of the evening’s several speakers was a keynote address by international Kent State alumnus, Raj Aggarwal, a former academic, executive, and board member. Aggarwal originally graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology and Kent State University (he also later attended the University of Chicago). During his short presentation, he offered the students in the audience his tips on achieving a successful career as well as a rewarding life following graduation. He concluded his speech with the admonitions to "know your essence – your life goals as well as your sources of motivation, satisfaction and happiness – and try to preserve or strengthen it, and to be kind to others and to yourself."
The reception also served as the opportunity to present the second annual International Community Impact Award, an award recently created to recognize graduating international students who had a positive impact on the Kent State community during their time here through community activities and active social relationships. This year's well-deserved winner of the award was Reema Alosaimi, a graduate student in the College of Education, Health and Human Resources. From Saudi Arabia, Alosaimi was most recently the President of the International Student Council. Under her leadership, the organization hosted and executed several successful activities for international and domestic students, including the first International Talent and Fashion Show. Her efforts enabled the group to earn the Rookie of the Year Award from the Center for Student Involvement earlier this year. The award was a surprise to Alosaimi, who graciously accepted the award from International Student Affairs Director, Eron Memaj. "Reema served as positive role model and helped create a home away from home for many students," said Memaj during his introduction of Alosaimi.
The most fun-filled portion of the evening perhaps occurred when the attending graduates were asked to gather on-stage for a group photograph (see above). After some coxing by the OGE and Alumni Association staffs assisted by many rightfully proud parents, the graduates made their way to the stage. Once the students were assembled onstage, a spontaneous applause erupted from the remaining attendees as cameras and cell phones began furiously clicking away. Afterwards, the students broke away into smaller cliques for more personal photos with friends, family and even Flash, who was on hand to help the students celebrate.