Ohio University's Eastern Campus honored graduates, scholarship recipients and student leaders at the Honors and Recognition Convocation on Friday at the Health and Physical Education Center in St. Clairsville.
Campus Dean Richard Greenlee welcomed the graduates and honorees and was followed by the keynote speaker, Deputy Superintendent of Ohio County Schools Dianna Vargo.
"A college graduation ceremony is an important rite of passage into the world," said Greenlee, "one which few people in southeastern Ohio ever get the opportunity to achieve. These students, who sit before you, are a very special group of people, of whom we can all be exceedingly proud. I would like to personally thank the parents, spouses and friends who supported our students throughout the years to help them achieve their dreams."
Vargo graduated from St. Clairsville High School in 1977 and attended the Eastern Campus the following year before relocating to OU in Athens to finish her bachelor's degree in mathematics. She went on to earn a master's in science and mathematics education and a master's in educational administration before completing a doctorate in education.
"Change requires hard work, dedication and commitment by those who strive to make a difference for the betterment of others," said Vargo. "Ohio University Eastern has met the mark of making change for the betterment of you. It is particularly gratifying for me, a proud Ohio University graduate, to be standing in the Health and Physical Education Center, which did not exist during my time here as a student. This beautiful facility now serves the community as the home for the OVAC basketball championships and many other important events."
Vargo also focused on the academic opportunities that are now available on the Eastern Campus.
"Back in 1977, the library did not provide the services that it does today, the media center and radio show did not exist, and you could not finish your bachelor's degree without relocating," said Vargo. "Students today have the opportunity to earn an Ohio University degree in 12 different majors without ever having to leave St. Clairsville. In my eyes, this is truly an incredible opportunity for the people of the Ohio Valley."
Vargo finished her remarks by challenging the graduates to become vehicles of change in their respective communities.
"Change doesn't just happen. Things get better because we make them better," she said. "It is my hope that you will make full use of your talents, as well the lessons that you have learned at OUE, and be driven by a passion to help those who need it the most."
Greenlee concluded the ceremony by congratulating this year's candidates on earning their Ohio University degrees.
"I feel confident that we are sending the graduates into the world inspired to make a difference and with more courage and confidence than when they came through the doors a few short years ago," he said. "Congratulations to all of you on a job well done."