170th Commencement Ceremony Held at Mount Union

May 07, 2016

ALLIANCE, Ohio – More than 487 graduate and undergraduate students participated in the University of Mount Union’s 170th Commencement Ceremony held Saturday, May 7 in the Peterson Field House of the McPherson Academic and Athletic Complex.

International students and faculty from Bolivia, China, France, Germany, Japan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Vietnam were among those participating in the ceremony, with flags of those nations displayed as part of the graduation regalia.

This year’s Commencement speaker was Dr. Richard Drake, director of anatomy and professor of surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University.

Drake, a 1972 graduate of Mount Union, majored in biology during his time at the University. He was involved in the theatre, track and football programs and was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. He is a member of the Mount Union Board of Trustees and is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies. 

Drake has numerous professional accomplishments, including publishing a book titled “Gray’s Anatomy for Students,” written with another anatomist and physician. He also received the 2011 Henry Gray/Elsevier Distinguished Educator Award from the American Association of Anatomists. In addition, Drake has given various talks at national and international meetings and has published peer-reviewed papers, numerous book chapters, multimedia materials and abstracts.

During his speech, titled “Taking Advantage of the Next Opportunity,” Drake touched on­­­­­ the ability to make important decisions in the professional world and what helped him achieve success from the education Mount Union provided him.

“Dr. [Leonard] Epp got me interested and excited about research when I was here,” Drake said. “Because of my interactions with this highly motivated individual, my future was redirected.”

Epp is a professor emeritus of biology at Mount Union and was a pivotal figure in Drake’s successes at the University.

“I bet there are those of you graduates sitting here today could look back on a coach or faculty member and realize the significant effect they have made on your life,” he continued.

Drake also spoke about the importance of a liberal arts education in preparing for the future. He also met his wife, Cheryl in a required religion class in their freshman year and said that her educational opportunities laid the foundation for her future. He also mentioned neither he or his wife would be where they are without making some tough decisions along the way.

“Throughout your life, you will be presented with many options,” Drake said. “Weigh them carefully and be decisive. Right or wrong, make a decision. The road of life is paved with flat squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.”

Following the address, Metropolitan Opera tenor and Mount Union alumnus Eduardo Valdes ‘83 performed a rendition of “You Raise Me Up” with the Mount Union Concert Choir featuring 1980 graduate Kim Lewis on piano and Chair of the Department of Music at Mount Union Elaine Anderson on cello.

The ceremony featured a speech from senior class president Jena Finch '16 titled "What Will Your Life Add Up To" and the Heaton W. Harris and Corinne Harris Smith Prize was awarded to Alison Feucht '16 immediately after. Mak Xin Fang '16 was also award the Good Citizenship Prize.

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