June 13, 2020, KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. –Students were joined by family and friends at their homes as Oregon Institute of Technology, “Oregon Tech,” virtually celebrated the Class of 2020 Saturday, June 13. The 72nd Annual Commencement Ceremony was a first for the university, as the COVID-19 pandemic made moving to a virtual platform necessary. The Class of 2020 includes 810 individuals, some who received multiple degrees, across all campus locations.
Dr. Nagi Naganathan, president of Oregon Tech, opened the event and welcomed everyone to this brave new world, “While we are not together here today physically, you are still in front of my eyes very much, as you are in front of the eyes of everyone here at Oregon Tech, who are reaching out across the virtual miles of bandwidth to celebrate this special day with you.”
The virtual format allowed Oregon Tech to focus on the two separate colleges that make up the university: the College of Engineering, Technology and Management (ETM), and the College of Health, Arts and Sciences (HAS). Joining the ceremony were keynote speakers, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley who spoke to graduates of the College of ETM; and Dr. Danny Jacobs, president of Oregon Health & Science University, who shared a message with graduates of the College of HAS. Also speaking on behalf of their colleges were seniors Clark Anderson (ETM) and Nashmy Luna (HAS). Greetings were also shared by Jessica Gomez, chair of the Oregon Tech Board of Trustees, and founder, president and CEO of Rogue Valley Microdevices; and messages from Erin Foley, Ph.D., vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students; and Joanna Mott, Ph.D., provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.
Electrical Engineering graduate Clark Anderson spoke to ETM graduates about the high value of an Oregon Tech degree. “Hands-on learning permeates this institution, with almost every single faculty member having made a living doing what they’re teaching us and that makes a huge difference in the quality and relevance of the education we’ve received…It means that we are better prepared than most to head out into the world and be productive members of society. However, I want to encourage you to be more. More than simply productive. More than simply another cog in the machine. More than just another average employee. Be bold. Be brave. Be confident. Speak up. Stand out. Ask questions. Make yourself indispensable.”
Graduating from Applied Psychology at the Portland-Metro campus, Nashmy Luna told HAS graduates, “As you prepare to go on your next journey, I hope you go with confidence, and I hope you’re ready to change the world as Oregon Tech has taught you to…you all epitomize what it means to be an agent of change, both creating and accepting it.” Closing her speech, Nashmy encouraged graduates, “May our journeys be alive with passion, empowered with vulnerability and brimming with opportunities.”
Earlier in the week, student award winners were celebrated through a video featuring special messages from faculty and staff who nominated them. Numerous academic accolades, volunteer experience, activity involvement and military service accomplishments were recognized:
- Graduate Student Achievement Award – Noah Nieman
- Hiram M. Hunt Award – Strix Engineering team; Noah Cayson, Brandon Foose and Bryson Lemapu
- Most Dedicated Student Award – Rowan Parker
- Oregon Tech Pride Award – Business Competition team; Quinn Damitio, Tanner Karp, Jared McBride and Peter Simonsen
- Outstanding Community Service Award – Megan Ross
- Outstanding Nontraditional Student Award – Sally Sutton
- Owens Citizenship Award – Brittney Ayles
- Student Achievement Award – Satomi Kiriakedis
- President’s Senior Cup Recipients – Tanner Karp from the College of Engineering, Technology and Management and Junmin Yee from the College of Health, Arts and Sciences
Recipient of the Oregon Tech Pride Award with his business competition team and the President’s Senior Cup, Business Management-Marketing graduate Tanner Karp viewed the ceremony from home with his family. “While I wish we could have had a traditional ceremony, I appreciate the effort put forth by the school to give us a special experience we can enjoy from home with our families,” said Tanner. “The last four years at Oregon Tech have been incredible. I will always cherish the bonds I’ve created with teachers and classmates in my business courses and my time spent practicing graphic design and branding while working in Athletics.”
The Class of 2020 has a current competitive edge of 96 percent of Oregon Tech graduates employed or in graduate programs within six months of graduation. The high return on investment is reinforced by the $60,000 starting median salary those graduates earn. The commencement ceremony videos are available for viewing on Oregon Tech’s YouTube page at www.youtube.com/user/OregonInstituteTech/videos.