Class of 2016 Looks Ahead

Vicky Smith
Managing Editor
@pinkwritinglady

The 2016 Cameron University Commencement Ceremony will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 6, at the CU Stadium.

Senior Director of CU Public Affairs, Keith Mitchell, who is also a Cameron graduate, said he really enjoys the students’ attendance at commencement because it gives him the chance to celebrate with them.

“Everybody’s familiar with graduating from high school, but there is significant difference between high school graduation and college graduation,” Mitchell said. “High school graduation is like a rite of passage where a teenager becomes an adult, and they have completed a set of requirements that they the state has mandated that they complete.”

Mitchell said what distinguishes high school from college is that students made a decision to attend college.

“You go to college because you wanted to go,” he said. “You see a benefit for it. It’s significant expenditure of time and energy and in most cases money, so there’s sacrifices that have to be made.

“They saw how it could better themselves, and I think that’s the biggest achievement that comes from graduation. … You’ve accomplished something major in your life.”

Mitchell was a December graduate, but he came back on campus to attend the graduation ceremony.

“My father passed away a month [to] six weeks before the end of the term,” he said. “That was the disappointing part of it because I wanted him to be able to see me graduate. By the time the actual commencement ceremony came around in May, I had already gotten a job, but I lived in the area, so I came back.”

Mitchell said at the commencement in May, he celebrated the benefits he could see from working and having a degree.

“In my case – first job I got, I doubled my salary,” he said, “so that was the biggest thing because you had more time, you had more money, you had more opportunities.”

For Mitchell, receiving his college diploma was a surreal moment.

“It was the tangible piece of everything you’ve done,” he said. “You’ve finished things up, you have a transcript, you know you’ve completed it – they’ve told you that.

“But the [diploma is] the thing that you have that you can hold on and say, ‘Okay. This represents all that work that I put into it.’”

According to Mitchell, an increase in pay and likelihood to get a job in Oklahoma are major benefits of obtaining a college degree.

“Studies have been done that say a person who has a bachelor’s degree will earn more than a million dollars during their lifetime than if they just had a high school diploma,” he said. “About 85 percent of students who get their college degrees stay in Oklahoma, and they can find a job within a year of their graduation. I think the outlook is pretty bright.”

However, Mitchell said students should prepare to be patient for the particular jobs they desire.

“They may not wind up getting a job in what they initially thought they might,” he said. “One of the great things about having a college degree is that it gives you flexibility in what job you get.

“While it may not be the job the one that you’d really thought you’d get, I think they should keep their minds open to the possibilities out there. They may find a job that they like even better than they thought they would.”

Mitchell said he hopes each college student has a successful career when he or she departs from Cameron University.

“I hope it’s doing something they love,” he said. “That’s what makes it worthwhile.”

For details about the commencement ceremony, visit cameron.edu/commencement/ceremony.

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