The spring graduation season started Saturday afternoon as Utah State University conferred 118 degrees on graduates from the USU-Tooele regional campus.
The degrees presented included four master’s degrees, one in education and three in human resources. The ceremony was held in the Tooele High School auditorium.
A total of 57 bachelor’s degrees were awarded including 18 from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, 20 from the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services, 15 from the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, and one from the College of Agriculture.
There were 58 associate’s degrees also presented, including two that were earned by high school students through concurrent enrollment.
The USU-Tooele student body is largely composed of non-traditional students, which means most graduates are older than the average USU graduate, are holding down jobs and are raising a family, according to Travis Peterson, USU vice provost. Peterson also served as interim dean of USU-Tooele for most of the 2013 academic year.
Student speaker Jade Powell started school in 2010 after going through a divorce. She worked two jobs while in school and raised a teenage son while maintaining a 3.0 grade point average in her courses at USU-Tooele.
“The only thing we have control over is our attitude about life,” said Powell. “A lot of us fought past attitudes with help from family and the USU community.”
Richard Gonzales, another student speaker, started at USU in 2010 after being laid off.
“Life is full of challenges and change,” he said. “If we settle for things as they are, how can we know what is ahead.”
The commencement speaker was Donna Dillingham-Evans, who six weeks ago became the new dean and executive director of USU-Tooele. She left Dixie State University where she was on the faculty since 1982. She served as the vice president of academics for Dixie State University since 2005.
Dillingham-Evans, born in Tennessee, introduced herself as a “southerner from the friendliest of places.”
“Lack of expectations limits the potential to contribute and enrich the lives of others,” Dillingham-Evans said. “Potential grows over time and reflects the work ethic of the individual.”
Dillingham-Evans challenged graduates to become “balcony people,” or people that, from their vantage point on a balcony, encourage and direct the people in the street below.
“Through encouraging others,” she said. “Together we build a strong community.”
USU-Tooele has been in operation for more than 25 years, and offers over 60 different degrees and program. There are over 1,000 students enrolled at USU-Tooele.