University Affairs

Utah State University Wasatch Region Celebrates Class Of 2023

By Marcus Jensen |

USU Salt Lake and Orem held a graduation celebration for the 2023 class, celebrating 516 graduates earning 547 degrees and certificates.

Utah State University Salt Lake Center and USU Orem are proud to have celebrated the class of 2023 on Friday, May 12. The class of 2023 consists of 516 individuals earning 51 associate, 297 bachelor’s, 163 master’s, five doctorate degrees, four education specialists and 12 undergraduate and 15 graduate certificates. The Salt Lake campus hosted Wasatch Region graduates for the celebration.

“Graduates, all of you have a powerful story of persistence, sacrifice, and hard work fueled by your hope for a better future,” said David Vernon, associate vice president for the Wasatch Region. “You successfully traveled on a noble journey, and I wish you a prosperous future.”

Vernon greeted graduates and offered opening remarks. He then introduced two student speakers: Pauline Vitkauskas and Atlas Jemison. Vitkauskas graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Jemison received a bachelor’s degree in health education and promotion, with an emphasis in health science.

Vitkauskas began the speech recounting her journey as a struggling grade school student. After earning her high school diploma, Vitkauskas began a community college degree, but had to leave school because of illness. She decided to come back to school after 11 years away, because she had something to prove to herself.

Vitkauskas went on to encourage the graduates to not look to prove others wrong, but to focus on proving things to themselves.

“We all will always have something to prove,” Vitkauskas said. “As we move forward to the next chapter in our lives, I hope all of you keep that in mind. Never try to prove something to someone else– it will likely make you miserable. Instead, prove things to yourself. You may find that it gives you more satisfaction in your life.”

Jemison then spoke to the graduates, recalling starting her college journey as a technical theater major at the USU Logan campus. After COVID-19 began to affect the world and shut down the theater industry, Jemison decided to fill a job opening in the health industry, working a phlebotomy job. Hesitant to return to school, Jemison discovered the USU Salt Lake campus and decided to return and pursue a degree in Health Education & Promotion. Jemison commented on the rollercoaster ride that is life and how USU has helped make it a fun ride.

“The past handful of years in college have felt like a rollercoaster, and sometimes it was scary,” Jemison said. “Whether it's cramming at the last minute for an exam, turning in an assignment right before midnight, or focusing on staying healthy - we had to make many scary decisions that formed us into who we are today. We often respond to scary situations by moving away from them, but Utah State University pushes us to face our fears so that we can challenge ourselves to grow.”

Jemison encouraged her fellow graduates to embrace the ups and downs with confidence.

“As we coast into this next phase of life, let's remember that it's normal to feel these ups and downs because life is just one fun rollercoaster that's going to roll us into many unexpected situations,” she said. “We have no control of the future, but we can control how we feel about it. Although it may be difficult to do this, it's easy to remember that upside-down times of your life just mean that there's a fun thrill coming up next!”

The graduates were then greeted by Kim Larson, associate vice president for Alumni Engagement. Larson congratulated the graduates and welcomed them to the USU Alumni Association.

USU President Noelle E. Cockett then shared a short message with the graduates and their families, congratulating them on their perseverance on making it through their coursework and reaching the graduation stage.

The celebration closed with a special presentation from Vernon, who presented President Cockett with a gift– a lifejacket and hat, perfect for President Cockett’s future rafting trips that she plans to take during the summer. This gift symbolizes the area’s gratitude for President Cockett’s support during her seven years as university president.

About USU

Located in the heart of the Salt Lake Metropolitan area, Utah State University Salt Lake Center offers students the personalized attention and small class sizes of a small-town college with the resources of a large university. With degree options ranging from associate to doctorate degrees, plus technical education offerings, USU Salt Lake Center offers programs that help fuel local economies and empower individuals and their communities. Learn more at saltlake.usu.edu.

Located on the edge of Utah County, Utah State University Orem offers students the personalized attention and small class sizes of a small-town college with the resources of a large university. With degree options ranging from associate to doctorate degrees, plus technical education offerings, USU Orem offers programs that help fuel local economies and empower individuals and their communities. Learn more at orem.usu.edu.

To close the celebration, USU President Noelle E. Cockett was presented with a lifejacket and hat, perfect for future rafting trips. The gift was a token of the region's appreciation for Cockett's time as USU President.

WRITER

Marcus Jensen
News Coordinator
University Marketing and Communications
marcus.jensen@usu.edu

CONTACT

David Vernon
Associate Vice President for the Wasatch Region
USU Statewide Campuses
(801) 597-0640
david.vernon@usu.edu


TOPICS

Statewide Campuses 358stories Commencement 85stories

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