Trine University dialed the excitement up an extra notch with the appearance of Indiana basketball legend Bob Knight as the guest speaker for its 125th commencement on May 8 in Hershey Hall.
With his 98 percent student-athlete retention rate, his long history with Indiana University basketball and his status as one of the most successful coaches in National Collegiate Athletic Association history, he created a riveting stage presence for the 4,000–plus listeners and media assembled to hear his advice to Trine students.
He kept the advice solid and the delivery fun and light, incorporating vignettes from his professional life and jokes, glibly delivered to illustrate his points. He called his receipt of an honorary Doctor of Public Service, presented by Trine President Earl Brooks II directly before his speech, one of the most important honors of his life.
He praised the university and urged the students to practice self–reliance. "There′s no finer institution than the one you′re graduating from," he said. "It′s placed you at life′s starting line. You will rely on yourself more now than you have at any other time."
He called preparation "the key in any game. The will to prepare is most important." He refused to wish students good luck, saying he believes in preparation and hard work instead. He also urged them to soak up information. "See, instead of look. To win, you′ve got to see. You need to listen, not hear. Until you′re CEO of General Motors, it′s more important to watch and listen than talk."
Joyous graduates, friends and families gathered in Ketner Sports Center for a reception after commencement, posing for photos, exchanging good wishes and congratulating one another.
Earlier in the morning, Trine President Dr. Earl D. Brooks II, Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. David Finley and other dignitaries honored exemplary faculty and staff members during the annual Commencement Breakfast in the University Center′s Whitney Commons. The prior evening, graduates–to–be and their families enjoyed Senior Salute, a casual party with food and music, to toast graduates′ academic accomplishments before they set out into the professional world.
Trine athletes will be able to train safely and effectively for their fall sports, thanks to three gifts from healthcare industry partners totaling $80,000. The funds will provide weight room and training room equipment for the new Fred Zollner Athletic Stadium, under construction and scheduled for completion in time for fall semester. The new facility will serve the sports of football, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey.
Parkview Orthopedic Hospital in Fort Wayne donated $40,000, and Dr. Brett Gemlick, a physician with Ortho Northeast One, Fort Wayne, donated another $20,000. Dr. Gemlick has served as team physician for Trine University Athletics and is a former member of the Trine University board of trustees. His group also provides athletic training services for Trine athletes. Ortho Northeast One also donated $20,000.
President Brooks said growing athletic programs necessitate the facility. "We have over 500 student–athletes involved in 22 varsity sports when we add field hockey in the fall. It is very rewarding to see this growth in our athletic programs, which has led to the need for this stadium."
Increasingly, undergraduate degree–holders see the necessity of adding a master′s degree to their career–building arsenal, and turn to Trine for the ammunition. This spring, six graduates earned master of engineering degrees, and 27 completed master of science in criminal justice degrees.
Returning to his alma mater for his master′s degree was a natural for Matt Clemens, BSME 1996, ME 2010. "Receiving my master′s from Trine was a no–brainer," Clemens said. "I could earn it at a school that I already knew well, and it didn't require an hour commute to class."
His Tri–State University studies had already connected him with present employer, Vestil Manufacturing in Angola. "I had interned with Vestil for over a year while pursuing my undergrad degree. Vestil then hired me as a product development engineer, which allowed me to use my
engineering education daily. My job utilized and honed my undergraduate degree skills, and I eventually became director of the engineering department," he said.
Soon, he witnessed the emerging pattern of professional advancement through a graduate degree. "I began seeing many of my peers receiving their master′s degrees through various institutions, and I realized that a master′s degree is more the norm than a rarity," he said.
He waited for the mechanical engineering master′s degree program to develop at Trine. "I often would ask Dr. Roger Hawks and other mechanical engineering professors when I would see them at various functions how the master′s program was shaping up. I was probably the first prospective student that Dr. Hawks notified that the program was a go for the fall of 2006. I immediately applied and was accepted for the fall semester. Vestil is extremely supportive of their employees
pursuing education of any form, so that was another big incentive for me to continue my education," he said.
He readjusted quickly to academic life. "Having finished my undergrad degree 10 years earlier, I was a little apprehensive about going back. I found out early on that due to my job experience at Vestil, I had retained much of my undergrad course knowledge, and the transition to the master′s level classes was surprisingly smooth," he said.
With the graduate degree in hand, he′s locked and loaded for the future. "My master′s degree will allow me to use my knowledge to help Vestil colleagues with future products, translating to better designs and money savings for our company in the long run. In today′s job market, a master′s degree will set you apart from others with similar experience."
James Hunt, MSCJ 2010, shared some of the same thoughts.
"Upon graduating with my undergrad degree, from Tri–State in 1999, I worked briefly at the Steuben County Jail as a correctional officer and was later hired as a probation officer for Noble County Probation Department. At the end of the month I will have held this position for 10 years," he said.
"During my career, I felt that a graduate degree would afford me more advancement opportunities specifically within management. I felt as though the Trine graduate program would provide me with the most relevant curriculum for an advanced position. Also the length, location, and cost of the program were very favorable. The education and experience I received far exceeded my expectations. I feel as though I am very prepared for any advancement opportunities that come my way," he
Sarah Dawson, MSCJ 2010, found that working on her master′s degree in
the evenings melded well with her life. "I am a single mother of two children under the age of 9, so I was able to be a full–time worker and mother," she said. "The night classes enabled me to work, go to school full time and see my kids as much as humanly possible."
Her hard work paid off in a great job. "With my Trine undergrad degree, I was able to get a job with the State of Indiana working for the Department of Child Services (DCS)," she said. "I have been there for over 2.5 years. Although I learned so much from my Trine undergraduate degree, the master′s program through Trine South Bend has only made this more of a rewarding field to work in. After working with the state for DCS for about a year and a half, it was apparent that I needed to further myself personally and professionally to have more impact on the community, not only where I live, but where I work, as well. I take pride in myself as a single professional mother, but even more as a professional student striving to make my community a better place."
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