Eight hundred members of the Shippensburg University Class of 2019 and their family, friends, faculty and administration gathered in Seth Grove Stadium on Saturday for the spring commencement ceremony.
Members of the class of 2019, led by SU professor of music Blaine Shover, marched into Seth Grove Stadium to the tune “Pomp and Circumstance.”
Members of the class of 1969 celebrated the 50th anniversary of their graduation during the ceremony. According to Shippensburg University Media Relations and Social Media Manager Megan Silverstrim, it is tradition for members of the class that graduated 50 years ago to be a part of the commencement ceremony.
After a brief welcome from President Laurie Carter, Chairman of the Council of Trustees Mike Ross gave a quick speech to the graduates, congratulating them and reciting an excerpt from Dr. Seuss’s “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.”
Ross then shifted his speech to the parents and families filling the bleachers.
“For the parents, I hope you have the basement prepared,” Ross said, to which the audience laughed.
Student Trustee Evan Redding shared his story of how he was not supposed to be at graduation. “I came to Ship and I didn’t have enough money for college,” he explained. “I was ready to pack up my bags to leave, but then someone wrote an anonymous check.”
Redding’s tuition was paid for by an anonymous donor.
“I don’t know who that person was, but I need to thank them,” Redding said.
The commencement address was given by two-time Super Bowl Champion SU alumnus and former NFL fullback John Kuhn of the Green Bay Packers.
Kuhn said he ended up at Shippensburg after he was rejected twice by the University of Pennsylvania.
“While I was here I studied chemistry. Now how did I become a chemistry major? Well, a football coach picked it for me without adding that it would almost kill me,” Kuhn said.
Kuhn, who graduated 15 years ago, told the graduates of a time where there was no social media.
“I was a part of the last generation that actually had to go out to Hot Point, Wibs, Richard Avenue, High Street, Frat Row or Sheetz to actually meet people,” Kuhn said. “Don’t act like you don’t go to Sheetz late at night.”
Kuhn said he was not sure what he was going to do after graduating in 2004. With a little encouragement from his friends and family, Kuhn took a year off of school to train for the NFL.
“The odds for a division two football player were not good. Two months later, I found myself at training camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Kuhn said.
Kuhn credits his success to his perceived failures.
“It can be, and usually is, our failures that define our path,” Kuhn said. “Perceived failure can be used as motivation.”
After reassuring the graduates that he was almost finished, Kuhn gave the graduates his final words of advice, “Dream big, risk big, and if you do fail, fail big.”
President Carter and Interim Provost and Executive Vice President James Mike presented the graduates with their bachelor’s degrees.
The reading of graduates’ names took a little over an hour. The John L. Grove College of Business went first, followed by the College of Education and Human Services. The College of Arts and Sciences, which occupied two columns of seats, was last.
Before students tossed their caps into the air, Carter gave her final remarks congratulating and wishing the new graduates well.
A total of 916 undergraduates earned their degrees, including 436 from the College of Arts and Sciences, 167 from the college of Education and Human Services and 313 from the John L. Grove College of Business.
152 graduate students also received their diplomas in a separate ceremony Friday night.