OSU celebrates 147th commencement with record number of graduates

Graduates

A scene from last year’s graduation ceremony (photo: Mark Floyd)

The Oregon State University Class of 2016 will celebrate a record-breaking number of graduates this Saturday when 6,406 of the newest members of Beaver Nation celebrate OSU’s 147th commencement.

The ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. on June 11 in Reser Stadium on campus. No tickets are required for the event, which also will be shown on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s PLUS channel.

A total of 6,406 graduates will receive 6,723 degrees this year, according to OSU Registrar Rebecca Mathern. They will add to the ranks of Oregon State alumni, which have earned a total of 236,296 degrees over the university’s history.

Juan Felipe Herrera, a social activist and the first Mexican American to hold the position of United States Poet Laureate, will deliver the commencement address.  The son of migrant farmers in California, Herrera is the author of 30 books, including collections of poetry, prose, short stories, young adult novels and children’s books.

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Magali Sanchez (contributed photo)

Some facts and figures about OSU’s Class of 2016:

  • 295 graduates will be receiving two degrees, while 11 will be receiving three.
  • A total of 692 graduates earned degrees in distance education in 32 different degree programs.
  • OSU’s 2016 graduates come from all 36 Oregon counties, all 50 states, three U.S. territories or commonwealths, and 63 nations around the world.
  • While the average age of the class is 25, the oldest graduate is 73 years of age; the youngest is 19.
  • The graduating class includes 136 veterans of the U.S. military service.

When Magali Sánchez crosses the stage, she will be the first in her family to receive a college degree.

The second oldest of seven siblings, Sánchez spent her teen years picking strawberries alongside her family in Woodburn. While pursuing her degree in ethnic studies with a minor in Spanish, Sánchez also managed to devote much of her time to social justice work. She volunteered in leadership roles, including Greek life, campus-community relations, Latinx organizations, as well as many other cultural and community groups. After some international travel, she hopes to pursue a master’s program in ethnic studies.

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Christopher McFarland (contributed photo)

Christopher McFarland began life in foster care, and ended up on the streets of Los Angeles as a homeless teen. He found himself addicted to drugs, and eventually landed in prison. But following a rough start, McFarland came to OSU, where he first received a bachelor’s degree in public health in 2013.

Throughout his academic career, he has worked with vulnerable populations in Benton County, and this June, he will receive a master’s degree in public health. He plans on continuing to work with the Benton County Health Department and work with at-risk adolescents.

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Marcia Vasquez (contributed photo)

A tragedy turned Marcia Vasquez’ life upside down, but also led her to pursue a doctorate.

In 1996, Vasquez was a master’s student at OSU with a 10-year-old son, Pablo, when her second son, Rodrigo, was born. After graduation she became a faculty member at the University of Talca in Chile, where she survived a major earthquake in 2010, which temporarily shut down the university. But shortly following the quake, Rodrigo was killed in a bicycle accident. The event spurred her to pursue something positive after his death, so she returned to OSU to pursue a doctorate in wood science, and dedicated the effort to Rodrigo.

As a child from Vadodara, India, Parth Khimsaria spent about 10 to 12 hours a day studying during high school and with academic coaches to get into a good engineering school. His path led him to Oregon State University where he was a part of the International Cultural Service Program with a partial scholarship, where he has spent the last five years working on his two undergraduate degrees – manufacturing engineering and industrial engineering, and a minor in business and entrepreneurship.

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Parth Khimsaria (contributed photo)

During his undergrad journey, he has done two internships at Blount International and Lam Research Corporation, has participated in a number of student engineer organizations, has been an ambassador for the College of Engineering, and has been an undergraduate research and teaching assistant. He has also helped build the International Peer Mentoring Program. After graduation, he will be joining Lam Research Corporation as a manufacturing engineer.

Mathern said OSU expects about 3,974 students to attend commencement. Oregon State is one of the only universities of its size to hand out actual diplomas to students as they graduate.

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