Students and families celebrate in-person commencement at Ohio State
Split ceremonies enable safe return to the ’Shoe
Spring commencement at The Ohio State University was wet and a little cold, as May in Ohio can be. But for 12,345 graduates and certificate holders and their families and friends, it was a chance to celebrate a return to tradition.
For the first time since 2019, spring commencement was held in person in Ohio Stadium. For the first time ever, it was held twice. Two ceremonies today helped accommodate thousands of graduates and still maintain health and safety precautions.
“Today, we celebrate you, the class of 2021. Because of your persistence and undaunted Buckeye spirit, you made it – you powered through this year and you are graduating today,” said President Kristina M. Johnson. “You’ve seen tremendous challenges, and you’ve helped us tackle tremendous challenges, like staying open the entire year, something that many people doubted we could do. But because of your determination and grit, we did it. And forever, the class of 2021 will define resilience.”
Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, delivered the commencement address. His message was broadcast during both ceremonies at Ohio Stadium.
Dimon said the class of 2021 and their peers have faced incredible challenges in the past year and noted that adaptability and a willingness to confront challenges would help them succeed in the next step of their lives.
“Your celebration comes after a year that was extraordinary by any measure. We’ve been through a global pandemic, a global recession, unprecedented government actions, turbulent elections, and deeply felt social and racial injustice,” he said. “All of you have been affected by COVID-19 in different ways. Your future is bright, but as you grow older it’s inevitable that you will face tough times and failure – both personally and professionally. We all do. How you deal with failure may be the most important thing in whether you succeed.”
Three other speakers joined Dimon to offer advice and direction to graduates. U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, whose district includes Ohio State, received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree; and veteran NASA astronaut Ellen Ochoa and prolific chemical engineer Robert Langer each received an honorary Doctor of Science degree.
For students and their families, the celebration in the ’Shoe was important because it once seemed in doubt. The university has been hosting virtual commencements for the last year to keep the campus community safe during the pandemic.
For Annika Diaz, a fourth-year animal sciences major with a specialization in animal biosciences, it’s been nearly two years since the California native has seen her parents.
“I’m just so grateful and so excited to have my parents come. I’m getting emotional thinking about it. I haven’t been able to have them come out from California and just spend that time and see my school,” she said. “I’m a first-generation student so they’re just super proud and excited.”
Emmanuel Adu, a fourth-year aerospace engineering major, also said the in-person ceremony was a special moment to share with his family.
“It feels amazing. It’s really for my parents. They really sacrificed a lot and I just feel great that they get to have that opportunity to see me graduate,” he said.
Johnson asked the class of 2021 to fulfill a simple charge:
“Take the power of your Ohio State experience and diploma, and use it to inspire others to see the good around them, too,” she said. “Make the biggest positive impact you can in the lives of others. That is the power of this place, your place, your alma mater, The Ohio State University. Congratulations, class of 2021!”