Thousands become CMU's newest alumni at Fall 2017 Commencement


Central Michigan University students exited McGuirk Arena as alumni after three ceremonies Dec. 16.

More than 1,800 December graduates and 872 August graduates were given the opportunity to receive their degrees at the Fall 2017 Commencement ceremonies.

The Commencement comprised three separate ceremonies throughout the day. The first took place at 9 a.m., the second at 1:30 p.m. and the third at 6 p.m. 

The CMU Wind Orchestra, conducted by James Batcheller, provided musical accompaniments to all three ceremonies. 

During the 9 a.m. ceremony, three Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets: Benjamin Good, Chelsey Downer and Caitlin Hill, took the Oath of Office and were promoted to officer rank. 

Gay Ebers-Franckowiak, a 1975 graduate and former managing director of Morgan Stanley, current member of the National Campaign Steering Committee, was the commencement speaker for the 9 a.m. ceremony. Ebers-Franckowiak shared her experiences both as a educator and a Wall Street broker, and how good social skills and empathy are critical to success.

"Central Michigan provided me with something much more than just Xs and Os," she said. "It gave me a challenging environment where social skills were integral to success. Most people you encounter in life are approachable and real." 

The 1:30 p.m. ceremony featured a commencement address from Frank Cloutier, who served as chief of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe from 2015-17.

During his speech, Cloutier discussed his life with 18 siblings, his work with the Michigan Government in his role as a member of the Council for Labor and Economic Growth and what he would want the graduates to take away from his experiences. 

"There are differences among you, but you should see those differences as strengths that you can build off of," he said in his speech. "Being a Chippewa is to be proud, strong and team-oriented."

President George Ross touched on the 125 year history of CMU and offered advice to the new CMU alumni.

"Be a leader, today and tomorrow, be open to change and go forward with confidence in the real world," Ross said.

James Sawyer IV, a CMU alumnus and Macomb Community College graduate, told the graduates it's impossible to know where their careers will take them and be open to new opportunities. 

"Embracing and learning to cultivate new knowledge and skills will ultimately set you apart from others," Sawyer said.

JacQuan Moore received his Bachelor of Science degree in psychology after four-and-a-half years. The Detroit native was one of the hundreds of students to walk across the McGuirk Arena floor Saturday night.

"It's very accomplishing," Moore said. "It's hard to describe. Now that the day has finally come, there are mixed emotions."

Moore's next plans are to attend graduate school outside the Midwest, focusing on mental health counseling.

Cheryl Williamson, of Detroit and Moore's grandmother, said her first-born grandchild's graduation is a positive example for his younger cousins.

"Getting an education is important," she said. "I'm very proud of him. He's always been determined. He's stayed fast."

Some of the graduates have clear paths after leaving Mount Pleasant. Ama Williams, a native of Ghana, received her Master of Arts degree in economics. She plans to leave the U.S., but she is not going back home. 

"I plan on looking for work in the Netherlands, where my husband is located," she said, "I like Mount Pleasant and the United States, but it's time for me to move on."

Fashion Design graduate Paige Zubok is also leaving, but is staying closer to home.

"I have a job waiting for me in Manhattan at 'To Exist', a men's underwear company." she said.

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Evan Sasiela is the University Editor at Central Michigan Life and a senior at Central Michigan ...

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