More than 350 candidates for a bachelor’s degrees and 370 for advanced degrees participated in Pacific University’s spring commencement exercises on Saturday, May 20, at Hanson Stadium on the university’s Forest Grove Campus.
Family members and friends alike showered graduating loved ones with flowers, leis and other treats before and after each ceremony, both of which filled the stadium grandstands and field seating areas to capacity, with an estimated 1,800 spectators for each event.
Distinguished University Professor of Physics Juliet Brosing gave the undergraduate ceremony keynote address to conclude an illustrious 30-year career that included countless accolades, including Oregon’s 2012 Professor of the Year award.
“I will miss Pacific immensely,” Brosing told the Class of 2017. “Like you, I’ve made wonderful friends here, shared endless hours together and gotten through some tough times and some really great times.”
She added that even if the coming days and years make it difficult to stay in touch, the Pacific community is a bond for life.
“One of the lessons I have discovered during this retirement process is that it is never too late to connect with others. Many of my former students and colleagues have reached out to me after many years, and this has meant more to me than any award or gift I have received.”
Physics/math double major Evan Carlson of Warrenton gave the valedictory speech. Carlson, a talented trumpet instrumentalist, was a member of the university’s symphonic band, as well as jazz and orchestra ensembles during this time at Pacific. Earlier in the week, Carlson was named Pacific’s outstanding senior in physics, outstanding senior instrumentalist and co-outstanding senior in mathematics.
He challenged his classmates to make a positive impact on others rather than simply pursue personal greatness.
“Our time at Pacific University has undoubtedly given us the tools that we need to go and do amazing things in the world,” Carlson said. “But, more important than doing great things, we should strive to always do the right thing. We often focus too deeply on achieving great things, when the real difference to be made in the world comes from the way we live our daily lives. Practice compassion, patience and respect, even when it isn’t the easiest thing to do.”
Among the other highlights of the undergraduate morning ceremony:
Within the College of Arts & Sciences, the initial three graduates of Pacific’s new bachelor of music therapy degree program received their diplomas, as did four others majoring in the university’s new criminal justice, law and society discipline.
In the College of Education, six students based at the university’s Woodburn Campus earned bachelor of education degrees with English as second-language (ESOL) endorsements after transferring from Chemeketa Community College through a unique articulation agreement. One of those students, Diana Reyes, says her experience has been every bit as fulfilling as she had hoped. “The Woodburn Pacific program is very hands-on with a deep commitment to lifetime learning,” she said. “Since the start of the program, the support and feedback from my professors and classroom supervisors has been incredibly helpful and a crucial component when reflecting and preparing future lessons.”
In the afternoon, advanced degree candidates in all five of the university’s colleges (Arts & Sciences, Business, Education, Health Professions and Optometry) received their diplomas, led by more than 90 doctoral students each in pharmacy and optometry, respectively.
Prior to the awarding of degrees, students and faculty paid homage to retiring faculty member Sue Stein, who helped elevate the School of Pharmacy as its dean, and Nada Lingel and Bradley Coffey, optometry professors who mentored students at Pacific for 30 and 35 years, respectively.
Other professional degrees awarded included master’s degrees in athletic training, business administration, education, social work, speech-language pathology, teaching, and vision science, as well as doctorates in physical therapy.
Prior to the awarding of degrees, optometry alumnus Larry Jones OD ’85 received the College of Optometry’s Kamelia Massih Prize for a Distinguished Optometrist. Dr. Jones, who coached football and was active elsewhere on campus as a graduate student in the early to mid-1980s, was a classmate of Massih, a distinguished Pacific optometry alumna and Portland-area practitioner committed to serving the less fortunate until her passing in 2010.
Jones, who owns a successful practice in the Seattle suburbs of Kent and Renton, has been active member of the National Optometric Association for more than 30 years. He has worked with the state of Washington Legislature in promoting better vision screening protocols as well as providing vision services to young offenders. He also volunteers his service for the College of Optometry’s annual run/walk fundraiser and recently helped build the university’s student chapter of the National Optometric Association (NOSA), which have been very active in fundraising for the university’s new EyeVan.
“You’ve all developed great character from this awesome university, no matter what your background — from Tehran or Tigard,” Jones told the graduates. “Your past failures or successes, I believe, can change the world and make it better. Thank you, Dr. Massih. In your altruistic actions, you’ve given us all a challenge. Let’s make all lives matter.”