WKU confers more than 1,300 degrees at fall commencement

Graduates wait in line during the fall 2012 commencement ceremony in Diddle Area on Saturday Dec. 15.

Taylor Harrison

As students walked into Diddle Arena for their commencement ceremony, they wore their feelings on their caps.

Many of the students decorated their caps — one had a picture of Big Red and others had messages, ranging from, “Thank You, Mom and Dad” to “Hilltop of the World.”

WKU conferred more than 1,300 degrees during the morning and afternoon ceremonies. At the first ceremony, degrees were conferred to students in the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, Gordon Ford College of Business and Potter College of Arts and Letters.

President Gary Ransdell opened the ceremony with a moment of silence in honor of the faculty, staff and students WKU lost this year, as well as others suffering great losses around the world.

Ransdell then reflected on this year at WKU.

“As we reflect on this past academic year, once again, we have celebrated numerous state, national and international achievements among our superb faculty and staff and the student body — and of course, our alumni as well,” Ransdell said.

During the ceremony, Ransdell also took time to acknowledge different groups within the graduating class — groups that had to work extra hard or brought something special to their graduating class, such as single parents, first-generation college students, students who studied abroad and international students.

Freida Eggleton, university registrar, introduced Amy Winkler, this year’s homecoming queen, as the recipient of the Ogden Foundation Scholar Award — WKU’s top graduation honor.

As Winkler accepted the award, she thanked people and groups such as the Ogden Foundation, all contributors to WKU, Ransdell and his wife, Julie, and Winkler’s parents.

“With a heart full of appreciation, I want to express my gratitude,” she said.

Winkler said that despite all the graduates taking different paths, they all made it to commencement.

“In our time on the Hill, we have gained knowledge, experience and most importantly spirit,” Winkler said. “Take your enthusiasm and spread it around this community, this nation and this world. It is vital we all recognize this is just the first step of our long journey. This is not the end of anything, just the beginning of everything.”

The students walked a red carpet to get their diplomas and have their picture taken. Each college had its turn. As they walked back toward their seats, students received red towels.

Louisville graduate Emily Dahl said she was really nervous before walking across the carpet.

“I didn’t really know what I was doing because I was the first one to go across, but it felt really good because I’ve never worked for anything so hard in my life,” Dahl said.

Ransdell talked about the freshmen assembly, when the students first came to WKU, and the pins they received. The students received another pin at commencement.

“These pins symbolize the bookends of your WKU experience,” he said.

Ransdell also encouraged students to find what they’re passionate about and live it. He told them to write their own story. He said that as the students move into their next chapter as WKU alumni, they will take their memories with them.

“Your life has been shaped by your WKU experience, and WKU has been shaped by your influence,” Ransdell said.

The ceremony ended in true WKU spirit fashion — the new graduates waved their red towels in celebration.

“I think a lot of other schools, they don’t really have very many traditions that make it really unique, so I like the red towel because they have it everywhere,” Dahl said.