Spring 2021 In-Person Commencement at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium

Hector McDaniel, president of Stark County NAACP, to give keynote address.

Hector McDanielKent State University at Stark graduates are set to take Canton’s biggest stage May 14 during an in-person commencement ceremony at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

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Stark County’s only public university is honored to celebrate its newest graduates and mark the return of an in-person commencement – the first since December 2019.

“We are the county’s Hometown University, and we are happy to commemorate the occasion in a special way – in a landmark that’s synonymous with our region,” said Denise A. Seachrist, Ph.D., Kent State Stark’s dean and chief administrative officer. “During a year marred by so much uncertainty, our students have counted on Kent State University at Stark’s commitment to academic excellence. We’ve delivered on that promise.”

Nearly 150 graduates have confirmed their participation in the in-person commencement ceremony. In total, more than 700 degrees will be conferred this spring, consisting of associate and bachelor’s degrees, and two Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) degrees. 

Across the university, the Kent State alumni family will grow by more than 5,000 new graduates as the university celebrates the accomplishments of its Spring Class of 2021, which will be recognized with in-person, outdoor commencement ceremonies all next week, along with a virtual commencement ceremony. 

Hector C. McDaniel, president of the Stark County NAACP, will present the keynote address at the Stark Campus commencement ceremony. During his speech, entitled “From Generation Next to Generation Now”, McDaniel is set to inspire this group of leaders to apply their world-class education to fuel positive change in their local communities.

“This is the Kent State University Class of 2021, but their degrees extend far beyond that title,” said McDaniel, M.Ed. ’14, a Kent State University alumnus. “These graduates are the gamechangers and the world needs them. Their time is now.”

As newly elected president of Stark County NAACP, one of McDaniel’s goals is to engage and support youth, while instilling a sense of civic and social responsibility. Also, a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, McDaniel has dedicated time to working with veterans, helping them achieve academic success and support. In 2016, he helped welcome Kent State Stark’s William G. Bittle Veterans Commons to the campus.  

Currently pastor of outreach ministry at Union Baptist Church in Canton, McDaniel previously served as a rehabilitation counselor for the Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Canton, where he coordinated community outreach for mental health, addiction, homelessness and justice system issues. McDaniel also helped establish the Stark County Fatherhood Coalition and has served as a mentor for Men’s Challenge.

Kent State Stark’s invitation-only commencement will be livestreamed on Facebook @KentStateStark, beginning at 4 p.m. May 14. 



POSTED: Tuesday, May 11, 2021 02:42 PM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 02:58 PM
Melissa Griffy Seeton