Strangers become Toppers at WKU M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan commencement

The traditional class photo was taken at Sunday night’s M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan opening ceremonies at Smith Stadium.

Nick Bratcher

To kick-start M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan each year, WKU holds a commencement ceremony under the gleaming lights at Smith Stadium.

Red towels imprinted with WKU’s fight song lay on each seat and new friends are made as the class of 2015 is brought together for the first and last time until graduation four years later.

Cheers erupted as President Gary Ransdell opened with an address to the class of 2015 and asked each student to make a promise.

“Tonight we’re going to make a deal,” said Ransdell, holding up a card imprinted with WKU’s creed. “In fact, it has come to my attention that most of you have signed a contract. You have one of these cards of what we will do and what you will do to make sure that that contract is fulfilled.”

“That contract is to graduate on time with your class in 2015.”

Hanson freshman Will Parker said he liked Ransdell’s speech and hoped it might inspire some students in their time on the Hill.

“It got me more fired up and ready to be here,” he said. “We’re really Hilltoppers.”

Ransdell said he remembers his first time on WKU’s campus.

“It wasn’t anything like this,” he said. “I can remember checking into Barnes-Campbell Hall, unpacking, and meeting guys on my floor for the first time. Mom and Dad pulled away and there I was.”

Head Football Coach Willie Taggart also attended the commencement, asking each freshman to come out to support the Toppers this season.

“We have six home games here in L.T. Smith Stadium,” he said. “I ask one big favor from all of you that for those six weekends you’d stay here in Bowling Green. Our football team can not have the kind of success we want to have without all of you backing us.”

Mt. Sterling freshman Maci Grey said she loved the cheers that randomly broke out all night, including during Taggart’s speech.

“It was a lot of fun,” she said. “I like all the spirit that the school has. We’re close to Lexington and there it’s UK, but I like this much better.”

Ransdell said he hoped to continue that spirit.

“I love it,” he said. “This is great. I love their energy. The challenge to me is for them to sustain this energy for four years to graduate.”

Freshmen gather on Feix Field for the traditional class photo, spelling a “2015” after speeches. Then Campus Activities Board held a carnival to celebrate the start of M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan.

Ransdell said he spent his first night on the Hill a bit differently.

“That’s probably not printable,” he said. “Probably, ‘Let’s go meet some girls.’”