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OSU-Cascades to host its first on-campus graduation ceremony on remediated pumice mine site

Past OSU-Cascades graduation ceremonies have taken place at Les Schwab Amphitheater, Drake Park, COCC track
OSU-Cascades
Past OSU-Cascades graduation ceremonies have taken place at Les Schwab Amphitheater, Drake Park, COCC track

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Oregon State University–Cascades will host the first-ever graduation event on its Bend campus on Sunday -- and at the site of a former pumice mine, no less, representing the school's continued growth.

The graduating class includes 290 students. Nearly 220 students plan to participate in the inaugural on-campus ceremony, and officials anticipate that more than 2,000 family and friends of graduates will attend.

The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. Sunday on the oval green at the center of recently remediated land that was formerly a 100-foot-deep pumice mine, the site of future campus expansion.

Becky Johnson, interim president of Oregon State University, who served as the leader of OSU-Cascades from 2009 until 2021, will give the commencement address.

The OSU-Cascades campus opened in 2016, but it was not until this year that the grounds had been developed sufficiently to support a major event, officials said. In its early years, OSU-Cascades was housed in leased buildings and did not have a campus of its own.

Previous commencement ceremonies were held at the then-Les Schwab (now Hayden Homes) Amphitheater, at Drake Park and at the Central Oregon Community College track.

A record number, 8% of this year's graduating class, or 24 students, are veterans of the U.S. military service. Students of color represent 19% of the class.

Yadhira Chavez, who will receive a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and was selected by her faculty to receive a 2022 Distinguished Student award, is the student speaker.

Members of the commencement platform party will include OSU-Cascades Interim Vice President Andrew Ketsdever who will preside over the ceremony; Kirk Schueler, chair of the OSU Board of Trustees; Rod Ray, chair of the OSU-Cascades Advocacy and Advisory Board; Neil Browne, interim dean of academic affairs at OSU-Cascades and members of the OSU-Cascades faculty.

Ray will present the OSU-Cascades Distinguished Service Award to Johnson during the ceremony. Johnson’s leadership of OSU-Cascades transformed the Central Oregon community’s expectations for attainment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, and its economic future. The award was established to honor individuals, businesses or organizations that have made exceptional contributions to OSU-Cascades, Central Oregon, the State of Oregon or the world.

Some facts and figures about the OSU-Cascades Class of 2022:

  • Bachelor’s degrees will be awarded to 224 students. Three undergraduates are dual majors and will receive two degrees.
  • Master’s degrees will be awarded to 66 students.
  • 88% of the graduates are from Oregon, with 63% coming from Central Oregon. In addition, 20 of Oregon’s 36 counties are represented.
  • Graduates also represent 16 other U.S. states and two countries.
  • Five candidates will graduate from the OSU Honors College.
  • The average age of the graduating class is 29; the oldest is 85 and the youngest is 19.
  • Including the Class of 2022, 4,996 students will have graduated from OSU-Cascades since it was established in 2001.

Each graduating student has a compelling story. For example:

  • Rami Shehadeh worked at his father’s restaurant in Bend starting when he was in high school. He took community college classes on and off, then left the restaurant to start his college career in earnest at OSU-Cascades at age 25. He majored in kinesiology, blending his interests in health and fitness, with the enjoyment he found helping others. Throughout his college career, Shehadeh worked full-time at a community recreation and aquatics center. He gained additional experience in the OSU-Cascades FORCE Lab, working alongside biomechanics researchers. Shehadeh earned a scholarship to pursue research on running shoe styles and their effect on running biomechanics. Shehadeh is applying to physician assistant graduate programs in preparation for a career in orthopedic medicine.
  • After enrolling at OSU 67 years ago, Bob Weed is completing a bachelor's degree in liberal studies at age 85. Weed left OSU to become a licensed radio broadcast engineer, then spent the next 35 years in the radio industry – on-air, building a broadcasting studio, and ultimately becoming a senior vice president at the Radio Advertising Bureau in New York City. After he retired and settled in Bend, OSU-Cascades opened its new campus. Weed enrolled shortly before the pandemic began in 2020. Navigating online tools like Zoom was challenging, but his professors, fellow students and statistics tutors helped him.
  • Honors College senior and computer science major Nikita Rubocki is comfortable taking risks. A top-level competitor in freestyle skiing, a traditionally male-dominated sport, Rubocki competed at the 2021 Olympic Winter Games tryouts. Her experience on the slopes, as a finalist in the National Center for Women in Information Technology’s Collegiate Award for undergraduate research and her peer leadership in making technology less intimidating to students of all backgrounds, will hold her in good stead as she enters the tech field. Aside from using big data to solve challenges, Rubocki hopes to help change the perception of the tech industry so that anyone can find their place within it and technology innovations represent a broader diversity of perspectives.  

To learn more about the OSU-Cascades Commencement Ceremony, visit osucascades.edu/commencement.

About OSU-Cascades:  Oregon State University’s campus in Bend brings higher education to Central Oregon, the fastest growing region in the state. Surrounded by 2.5 million acres of mountains and high desert, OSU-Cascades offers small classes that accelerate faculty-student mentoring and engages in top tier research as part of Oregon State University. Degree programs meet industry and economic needs in areas such as innovation and entrepreneurship, natural ecosystems, health and wellness, and arts and sciences, and prepare students for tomorrow’s challenges. OSU-Cascades is expanding to serve 3,000 to 5,000 students, building a 128-acre campus with net-zero goals.

Article Topic Follows: Education

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