West Liberty, W.Va., May 4, 2019 — The overcast spring morning did nothing to deter the spirit of the Class of 2019 as West Liberty University President Dr. Stephen Greiner presided over commencement exercises held at 11 a.m., Saturday, May 4, 2019.
The ceremony, held in in the Academic, Sports and Recreation Complex (ASRC), began with the National Anthem performed by the West Liberty Singers, under the direction of Professor Ryan Keeling. Three-hundred and seventy-one graduates completed graduation requirements during the spring semester.
Graduating student speaker was Megan Lyle of Belmont, Ohio, who earned a degree from the School of Professional Studies in organizational leadership and administration.
She thanked everyone for joining the graduates and described the West Liberty University legacy.
“Education is a legacy that you leave behind. Since 1837 West Liberty University has been creating its own legacy and enhancing the legacy of those who have attended the university. WLU’s greatness is known locally and nationally and it is ranked by the U.S. News Report as one of the best colleges in the U.S.”
Lyle then described why she returned to college as a working adult with a young son. She explained the advantages of earning her bachelor’s degree at the Highlands Center campus and described how she could continue to work full-time while taking classes and being a mother.
Lyle ended by stating: “Today we celebrate our time together … and I am immensely proud to stand here before you as part of the West Liberty University legacy. Congratulations graduates.”
Congressman David B. McKinley, next was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by President Greiner, prior to delivering the commencement address.
McKinley began by having graduates applaud their families. He then shared his thoughts with graduates by inspiring them to prepare for the challenges of life.
“You may face setbacks and challenges but remember, our nation was founded by people taking a risks. Each of us must be prepared to bear the banner of leadership. We must have the confidence to take the risk and see how much better this country can be.
“Imagine if Nathan Shotwell was standing on this hilltop. He could have chosen another location closer to the confluence of the Ohio River and the town, but instead he built this institution along the circuitous route of Route 88. As an engineer, I’m not sure I’d have agreed with building it here. But he took a risk and plunged forward. Now we celebrate his dream on this very hilltop.”
McKinley then described an unforgettable and mesmerizing sermon he heard at his church, delivered by a visiting Baptist preacher, that inspired everyone to pursue goals to reach their full potential.
“Inside all of us, we have hopes and dreams, metaphorically it’s like songs trapped inside of us. Celebrate these songs.”
“The faculty has prepared you for your next step. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer young graduates seem willing to sing these songs and take risks. There will be times when you will doubt yourself, even fail, but that’s OK. Learn how to deal with failure. Those who change the world are unafraid to take a risk and feel free to release their song.”
McKinley then described the many trials and disappointments of President Abraham Lincoln and inventor Thomas Edison. He further described the recent inspiration of watching basketball player Dalton Bolton play with an eye injury during the recent winning season of Hilltopper basketball.
“Here at WLU, Dalton Bolton, played with an eye patch and took the risk of a bad season. He chose to play and despite his injury, his performance was phenomenal. He inspired us.”
“So find your song and sing it now that you’re graduating. Don’t let fear stand in your way. I hope this message sticks with you. Thanks to Shotwell’s vision, you have a chance to find your goals.”
“When I look out into the audience, I don’t just see faces, I see songs ready to burst forth. I see hope for America, for our community and for the United States of America. Thanks for the honor to address you today and share this day with you. God Bless all of you. Go out and do something and make something happen.”
The Commencement Ceremony was televised live on WLU-TV 14 (Comcast Channel 14 and online at wltvonline.com and will be rebroadcast over the weekend.
A reception for graduates, guests and families immediately followed the ceremony and was held in the College Union.
West Liberty University is a forward-looking, four-year public university steeped in a rich heritage as West Virginia’s oldest institution. Today it offers more than 70 undergraduate majors, plus a growing number of graduate programs. For more information, please call 1.866.937.8542 (WESTLIB) or visit westliberty.edu, follow WLU on social media or view westliberty.edu/youtube.