By Justin Much
Western Oregon University bid farewell Saturday to its largest graduating class in history.
The class of 2012 had 1,281 graduates, and at least 860 of them participated in Saturday’s ceremony.
Attendees spilled over into standing room only areas outside the packed McArthur Field and crowded the new gymnasium to watch the commencement on screen.
Among the speakers were WOU’s Delmar Dewey Award recipient Robert Alexander, the Julia McCulloch Smith Award recipient Paige O’Rourke and Graduate Student Award recipient Allysa McVay.
Mark Corcoran, class of 1978, who was known as “The Garbage Man” on the OCE Wolves basketball team in the mid-to-late 1970s, gave the commencement address.
“Make every moment count,” Corcoran urged.
He stressed that when people compare themselves to others, they will inevitably become frustrated.
“You’ve got to accept who you are and make the most of your talents,” he said.
He noted that most factors in life are out of one’s control, but not all.
“Perseverance will always be in your control,” he said.
O’Rourke encouraged her classmates to live thoroughly and fully without getting enmeshed in the artificial experiences of expectations.
“Expectations and reality are rarely in alignment,” O’Rourke said. “As a society we get so absorbed in trying to mold our future that we forget to live in the present.”
She advocated shaking off expectations and instead being flexible and adaptable while living “with grace and generosity.”
McVay quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
Alexander quoted Malcolm X: “Education is our passport to the future.”
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