OSU celebrates 142nd commencement Saturday

Approximately 4,619 students will receive 4,815 degrees during Saturday's ceremony.

Oregon State University will hold its 142nd annual commencement on Saturday, June 11, with the largest graduating class in its history. More than 4,600 students are in the class of 2011, which will hold its graduation ceremony at Reser Stadium beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Preliminary data show that 4,619 students will receive 4,815 degrees, according to OSU registrar Kent Kuo. OSU graduates are from every county in Oregon, and from almost every state in the country, as well as from 48 different nations.

Each of this year’s graduates has their own tale of struggles and triumphs, and among them are some extraordinary stories of success. Mark Hall of Portland is a biochemistry/biophysics and University Honors College senior who has kept busy during his time at OSU as a participant in the biochemistry/biophysics club, and was the president this year of Mortar Board. He also served as a College of Science ambassador.

Mark Hall hopes to work with children who have the greatest medical need.

But perhaps the best evidence of Hall’s commitment to his community is the B-Aware program he began in Portland to increase awareness of and help to treat Hepatitis B. Hall has been active for three summers of research at OHSU/Doernbecher Children’s Hospital where he carried out research on inflammatory bowel diseases, uveitis and signaling pathways involved in autoimmune disease.

After graduating, Hall said plans on continuing his research work for a year before attending medical school, hopefully at OHSU. His dream is to work in pediatrics, and he’s discovered a love of surgery, so he hopes to combine those passions and focus on pediatric cardiology and oncology.

“I want to work with the kids who need the most help,” Hall said.

Sarah Dorris will be walking with her fellow seniors during the June 11 commencement, but will finish up a few classes this fall that she missed during her deployment with the Oregon Air National Guard. A senior from Klamath Falls majoring in Human Development and Family Sciences, Dorris discovered her passion for social work through her service in the Guard. She was deployed to Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait as a Force Protection Escort, and upon her return devoted herself to her course work.

Sarah Dorris wants to work helping the families of veterans. She herself is in the Air National Guard.

Dorris, a staff sergeant, started out as a language major but switched to HDFS after realizing her true calling was to help military families work within the system to adjust to civilian life.

She said the best part of her time at OSU was the exposure it gave her to so many different ideas.

“I was able to take such a diverse range of classes,” Dorris said. “There is such an opportunity to become well rounded. And the faculty here is really friendly.”

Dorris added that OSU has a well-earned reputation as a military-friendly campus, and she’s been happy to have use of the veteran’s lounge during her time at the university.

The call of the ocean is strong for Danielle Asson, who is graduating with honors in biology and international studies. The Beaverton native is one of many OSU undergraduates who had a number of opportunities to do research while at the university, including spending a term at Hatfield Marine Science Center studying American Blue Mud Shrimp, and a term in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, where she expanded her knowledge of marine science.

Wherever there is marine life, you'll find Danielle Asson.

When not tromping in hip waders, the University Honors College student spent her time as a gymnast, and as a participant in the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, and the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography. She has been admitted into OSU’s Marine Resource Management master’s program in the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Science, where she will continue her research.

Graduate degrees awarded include 735 masters, 172 Ph.D.s, and 141 professional degrees (92 doctors of pharmacy, 49 doctors of veterinary medicine).

Among the graduates are 373 students who received distance education degrees in 17 different programs through Ecampus.

More degrees are going to women (2,443) than men (2,372) and the average age of the class is 25. The oldest graduate is 63; the youngest, 19.

OSU’s 2011 commencement ceremony will be broadcast live on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s OPB Plus and will be streamed online.

The commencement speaker will be Jon DeVaan, an OSU graduate whose 25-year career at Microsoft includes managing the engineering team responsible for the architecture of Microsoft Windows. DeVaan also will receive an honorary doctorate from OSU.

The university will present its Distinguished Service Award to Robert Fossum, a 1969 Ph.D. graduate from OSU whose work in private industry and for the Department of Defense were crucial to the development of improved national security for the United States.

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