CORVALLIS, Ore. - Michelle Obama will address the 2012 graduates of Oregon State University this Sunday, June 17, during the university's 143rd annual commencement ceremony - and it will be a record number of graduates that will hear the First Lady speak.
The Oregon State commencement ceremony begins at 3:30 p.m. at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, and will be broadcast live on Oregon Public Broadcasting beginning at 4 p.m.
An estimated 4,979 students are graduating this June from Oregon State and OSU-Cascades, earning a total of 5,236 degrees. Both totals are records for the university, as is the number of graduates who will be attending commencement at the main campus on Sunday - an estimated 3,473. As many as 33,000 people are expected to attend commencement, which is being streamed online at: http://oregonstate.edu/events/commencement/streaming-video
An advocate for better childhood nutrition and healthy communities, Michelle Obama will receive an honorary doctorate from Oregon State in recognition of her work. Oregon State President Ed Ray extended the invitation to the First Lady to speak at the university's commencement.
"Mrs. Obama's leadership to improve the health of our nation's communities and reduce obesity among young people is outstanding," Ray said. "And her efforts are very much in keeping with Oregon State's overall mission. During her campaign for better childhood nutrition for improved community health, the First Lady has gained national insights, community perspectives and a passion for improved health that few can match."
Of the nearly 5,000 graduates, the oldest member of the class of 2012 is 76 years old; the youngest is just 18. The average age of the class is 25, and the graduates come from 48 states, one U.S. territory, five overseas military addresses, Washington, D.C., and 54 countries.
OSU is one of the few institutions of its size in the country where the graduating students will receive their actual diploma during commencement - not just a generic certificate.
There are many different stories among this year's graduates.
Alisha Reynaldo has many thanks to give for getting her to commencement. A speech communications major with a minor in business and entrepreneurship, Reynaldo credits her mentor, Judi Bowker, her family, her friends and her 11 year-old-daughter for pushing her success. As a mentor and coach herself, she focused her efforts in sports and following graduation, Reynaldo will be moving to Atlanta, Ga., where she has accepted a job offer from the NBA's Atlanta Hawks to be a group sales executive.
OSU Students in Free Enterprise is more than just a student group, it has become a way of life for its members. Seniors Jennifer Villalobos, Drew Anderson and Kim Pendergrass are graduating and leaving this nationally recognized and organization they helped build. SIFE went from being unknown to attracting attention from the First Lady herself for its efforts in hunger issues and the OSU students' nationwide hunger awareness road trip they inaugurated in 2009.
Returning to school after a 14-month deployment in Iraq, Corp. William Jordan joins this year's class after gaining a unique perspective of the world. A mathematical economics major, Jordan was determined to graduate and continue his military career despite struggling with readjusting back to student life. Jordan was active with the Associated Students of OSU, of which he said, "if you're willing to put forth the effort, you can matter." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0AQjaA89KQ
For more information on commencement, go online to: http://oregonstate.edu/events/commencement/
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Steve Clark, 541-737-4875