ALLIANCE, Ohio – Approximately 526 graduate and undergraduate students participated in the University of Mount Union’s 173rd Commencement Ceremony held Saturday, May 18 in the Peterson Field House of the McPherson Academic and Athletic Complex.
Gretchen Schuler ’96, vice president for insurance and risk management at Invacare, was the speaker for the afternoon and provided insight, advice and acerbic wit to the standing-room-only crowd of the Peterson Fieldhouse. Her speech was titled, “The Roads You Travel” and was reflective of her own journey at Mount Union.
“When I was in college, the road I started on is definitely not the road in which I ended,” Schuler said. “I was what you would call a hot mess. But ultimately, I’m here speaking to you today.”
Schuler worked part-time jobs through her time in graduate school and took a job in the health insurance industry upon earning a master of arts degree from Cleveland State University. The rest, as she stated, is history.
“To be successful, you need to have a sense of humor,” Schuler said. “Take what you do seriously, but do not take yourself too seriously.”
She told the graduates that their careers would not always be “double rainbows and unicorns,” and that they would encounter adversity at times.
“How you handle mistakes and disappointments is often what defines you,” Schuler said.
“To quote the great Taylor Swift,” Schuler began to conclude, as the audience’s collective laughter forced her to pause and chuckle herself. “’Haters are gonna hate, so shake it off.’”
Following Schuler’s address, Dr. Jeffrey Breese, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the university, began the presentation of the candidates for degrees.
Undergraduate representative and senior class president Elizabeth Slifka ‘19 a nursing major of Chesterland, Ohio, and graduate student representative Ivan Haggins II D ‘19, a physical therapy student of Hudson, Ohio, also spoke to the thousands in attendance for the Commencement proceedings.
“My time at Mount Union prepared me and has reassured me that these four years has led me in the correct direction in which I do not have to fake my happiness,” Slifka said. “As difficult as these four years have been, I’ve been finding it even more challenging to walk away and move on from the place I’ve called home for the last four years.”
“Naturally, we’re all smiles today, but don’t let that fool you, believe me it was not always that way throughout our time in the program; this was a long and arduous process, but the best things in life are usually the hardest to attain,” said Haggins. “As you sit here ready to graduate, as you deal with the excitement, the nerves, and all the other emotions that come with this moment, I challenge you to try to create the world you wish to live in.”