Celebrating New Spring 2019 Graduates

Nationally syndicated columnist Charita Goshay offers the spring class words of wisdom.

The Stark Campus alumni family welcomed its newest members Sunday, May 12, during the annual spring commencement ceremony at Umstattd Performing Arts Hall. 

More than 100 graduates participated in the event, celebrating their pinnacle academic achievement. 

“Now is the time to excel personally and build upon the academic success you have achieved at Your Hometown University,” said Denise A. Seachrist, Ph.D., dean and chief administrative officer. “You will always have a home at Kent State Stark.” 

In total, Kent State University at Stark conferred 408 degrees, consisting of master’s, bachelor’s and associate degrees. 

View ceremony photos      View graduate photos

Repository staff writer and GateHouse Media nationally syndicated columnist Charita M. Goshay served as the commencement speaker. Goshay, a Kent State University alumna and award-winning journalist, also is a founding board member of Habitat for Humanity (East Central Ohio) and a graduate of Leadership Stark County. 

Below is Goshay’s speech in its entirety: 

So, what can I tell you today, that you don’t already know?

Think outside the box? Just say no?

Somewhere along the way, you got it; you figured it out. You assessed your options and came to the conclusion that education is the game-changer. You understand that education is, as Malcolm X once put it, “A passport to the future.”

I know that some of you put on your funny hat on this morning, looked in the mirror and marveled at the sight. 

Don’t let anyone kid you. What you’ve managed to accomplish is a very, very big deal.

So, I’m not here today to offer you some magical plan on what you should do now. 

I’ve come to praise you.

Because, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from 29 years in journalism, it’s that everyone has a story.

We’ve never met, but I know that there are some former foster kids sitting among you. 

I know some of you were fed a steady diet of doubt and cynicism as children and were told – more than once – that you’d never be anything.

I know that a few of you are here as part of a plan to rebuild your lives, to change a trajectory that was headed toward nowhere.
Others of you are here to finish what you started, and to set an example for your children.

I know some of you are here against insurmountable odds, overcoming situations that would have crushed the rest of us mere mortals. There are capes underneath those robes, I just know it.

I can’t advise you on how to live out the rest of your life… The dirty little secret of adulthood is that none of us really knows what we’re doing.

But I will encourage you. 

I want to encourage you to stay curious.

I know that maybe right now, the last thing you want to do is pick up a book, but reading is the closest thing we adults have to magic.

I encourage you to travel when you can. Cross paths with different people, races, languages and cultures. You will find that we are not as different as you think, and that kindness abounds.

I encourage you to do something every once in a while that scares you to death – like giving a commencement speech.

I encourage you to freak out your family by doing something unexpected, maybe even insane. Run for president.

I encourage you to consider public service. Despite all you may read and hear, public service remains a noble calling. 

Always keep in mind that a “government by the people” can only be as good as the people running it.

We need young men and women who still believe in this grand experiment; who still hold enough faith in this country to serve it.

In the book of Proverbs, it is written that a person’s talents makes room for them. I encourage you to take your talents, take what you’ve learned at Kent State and apply it in making our world a more fair and just place.

Though it may set you at odds with those you know and love, I encourage you to continue to embrace your authentic self. If you do so, I promise you, you will find your tribe.

I encourage you to find ways – no matter how small – to get and stay engaged in your community, in order to make it better. There’s enough ambivalence in the world.  

Look, I know some of you have a U-Haul trailer hitched on the back of your car, which is idling in the parking lot, and it’s aimed at Florida, or New York City or Chicago.

I get it. But I would encourage you to consider remaining here in Stark County. We need you.

Stark is growing smaller, older and poorer, and we need your youth, your vision, your talent and your potential.

We need your energy, your ideas for new businesses, technologies and services not yet in existence. 

Before Steve Jobs was Steve Jobs, he was just another college dropout, building a company in a garage.

Why not you? Why not here?

We’re no pikers. Ohio has produced eight American presidents. It also has produced such people as Thomas Edison, John Glenn, Victoria Woodhull, Steven Spielberg, Jesse Owens, and now, you.

I want to praise you for not listening when you were told “Well, you know college isn’t for everyone.” While that may be true, it clearly wasn’t true in your case…

I praise you for your persistence.

It is said that at the end of the day, it isn’t intellect, or talent, or even sheer dumb luck that separates the successful from the others; it’s persistence.

Now, I know we’re living in an era when we’re supposed to tell our children that they’re special. Allow me to burst your bubble. You are not. But what you are is someone who’s come to understand that we all are responsible for making the most of whatever opportunities we have been given.

There are so many truly extraordinary and gifted people in the world who will never have the chance to wear a cap and gown, but it doesn’t make them any less valuable.

Imagine how much better off we all would be were they, too, were given the opportunity to contribute.

Currently, the United Nations reports that 263 million children and young adults are not enrolled in school of any kind. According to Global Citizen, a child whose mother can read, is 50 percent more likely to live beyond age 5. If every mother on the planet had a basic education, there would be 1.7 million fewer children suffering from malnutrition.

Education is that impactful.

I praise you for answering that call from deep in your heart to go farther, to do better; for your willingness to embark upon the harder, less-traveled path that will pay off for you in ways you cannot yet fathom.

I praise you for watering your own souls.


POSTED: Tuesday, May 14, 2019 09:40 AM
UPDATED: Monday, April 22, 2024 12:30 PM
Melissa Griffy Seeton