May 11, 2024
On Campus

Congrats, Graduates

Wittenberg Celebrates Class of 2024 With 174th Commencement Exercises

Springfield, Ohio – Learning to adapt to change and finding creativity within that change will forever define Wittenberg’s Class of 2024, which celebrated its first in-person ceremony today in beautiful Commencement Hollow. Together, the 281 members of the class proved to all that they could successfully navigate a world like none other amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and today they were honored during the University's 174th Commencement Exercises, May 11.

Throughout the week and during the many celebratory events leading up to today’s ceremony, the class members reflected on the special bonds that were formed during their time at Wittenberg, along with their collective trust in times of change, and the how they had to work a little harder to create connections across campus.

Kicking off the ceremony, David P. and Carol Matevia Endowed University Pastor Tracy Paschke-Johannes offered a special invocation and graduation litany. Wittenberg President Michael L. Frandsen then followed, congratulating the class of 2024 in his opening remarks and relaying “what a long strange trip it’s been,” which he augmented with the audio clip from the famed Grateful Dead song “Truckin.”

“It seems so far in the past, but also only yesterday, that most of our graduates started their time at Wittenberg in masks, in classrooms that were configured to facilitate social distancing, and without getting together in groups,” he said. “They had missed high school proms and graduations as the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded. With more than a few bumps along the way, slowly but surely, things returned to something like they had been before. And this group, the Wittenberg University Class of 2024, helped to shape our new normal. In some ways, because of the disruption, the Class of 2024 had an outsized impact on our community. Now, we get to celebrate them. Celebrate graduation, an important milestone, and celebrate a new beginning, the commencement of life after Wittenberg.”

Frandsen then went on say that there is a lot of uncertainty in the world today and a lot of change, but this class is ready for it.

“You have gained knowledge and skills from every part of your Wittenberg education. You have learned a few things about persistence and resilience. You have seen the importance of passing on your light and the impact that can have on others,” he told them. “As you celebrate this life milestone, leave here confident in your abilities, but with the humility to know that there is always more to learn and that the unexpected will happen. In the face of life’s challenges, remember that you know how to Tiger Up!  Remember, too, that you are part of a streak (and that has nothing to do with The Hollow). A streak is what a group of tigers is called. You are Wittenberg Tigers, for life, and that means you do not have to go it alone. As you leave here to do great things, use your head, and listen to your heart. Keep making us proud. Congratulations, Wittenberg Class of 2024!”

Senior Class President Gabby Stern also addressed her classmates during the ceremony. Stern, from Hilliard, Ohio, is a nursing major and a psychology minor who has been active at Wittenberg as a member of the Nursing Club, APO, as an assistant director of football operations, a men’s lacrosse social media coordinator, and as a nursing simulation lab worker. Upon graduation, she plans to pursue a career in nursing, as well as furthering her education to one day become a nurse practitioner.

“Our class has faced a great amount of uncertainty and change,” she said. “Witt has constantly introduced us to new things. An example would be right now: we’ve never had a graduation before!! I did not expect to be up here today. For real. I was the vice president… but here we are! We have been forced to adapt to our situations. I thought to myself: How the heck do I do this? How do I stand in front of everyone, as the class president, with very minimal class president experience? I then realized how many people I can turn to when needed, and that’s a special gift Witt has given to me.

“Our first year of college never started how it was meant to and how a typical college freshman would be entering this environment,” Stern added. “Because of the situation we were in, it made our class have a special bond because we had to work that much harder to form connections and set out on this new chapter of life.  While we were on lockdown, we made the most of the worst, and here we are coming out of it, as the 2024 graduating class. We not only found each other, but we also found ourselves. I truly believe we are the most creative class. We figured out how to interact and spend time together, through the midst of isolation and lockdown.”

Stern went on to say uncertainty led to positive change.

All of the uncertainty also helped us grow. Wittenberg has given us the opportunity to grow as students and as people. At this school, we have found each other. We found ways to socialize and form new relationships, despite being isolated. We developed our own sense of community amid the chaos.
Gabby Stern '24, Class President

Chair of the Wittenberg Board of Directors William “Bill” Edwards, class of 1989, then came to the podium to introduce the keynote speaker, Meg Frost, Wittenberg class of 1994 and the director of product design for Apple, Inc.

“Wittenberg is an institution rooted in a mission that speaks to helping you discover your respective callings, being responsible global citizens, and going on from here to lead personal, professional, and civic lives of creativity, service, compassion, and integrity,” he said. “My own Wittenberg experience shaped the way I understand my vocation and continues to inform the ways that I engage the world.  Wittenberg changed my life, and I believe it has forever changed yours, so today we celebrate with you – the distinguished class of 2024.

"Today’s ceremony also affords us the opportunity to award an honorary degree to a distinguished member of the Wittenberg family, Meg Frost, class of 1994. Honorary degrees from Wittenberg are bestowed on those who have passed their light on in extraordinary ways.”

Frost was then presented with an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters following an introduction by Staci Rhine, professor of political science at Wittenberg.

A product design leader with more than 25 years of experience in creating innovative and user-centric solutions that enhance the lives of millions of people around the world, Frost began her career as a senior designer at Silicon Graphics after graduating from Wittenberg with a degree in graphic design. She then moved on to a senior art director position at SBI-Razorfish before joining the Apple team in 2004 as a design lead for the iTunes Music Store, a year after the revolutionary service was introduced to the world.

Now as director of product design at Apple, Frost oversees iCloud, Apple Maps, Education, Business, Wallet, and Pay. Leading a talented and diverse team of designers, researchers, and engineers, she oversees the end-to-end design process of product lines, from prototyping to testing and launch. Some of her recent projects include the creation of the 3D cartograph and Look Around features for Apple Maps and the creation of Family Sharing. At Apple, Frost has also leveraged her skills in creative direction, graphic design, branding, and more.

In her remarks to the class, Frost reflected on her own Wittenberg journey and her path after graduation, noting the mental and physical challenges she had to overcome, and the importance of focusing on one’s passion. Like the students, she, too, leaned on friends and supporters to navigate her path, which she encouraged the graduates to keep doing.  

Through ambiguity, uncertainty, and the unknown, we become “adept at untangling complex puzzles,” with resilience, she shared. “Someone has to take the lead, why not you?”

A proud liberal arts graduate of Wittenberg, Frost also expressed confidence in this type of education in today’s world.

"How many times have you been asked, 'what are you going to do with that liberal arts degree? The right answer is 'whatever I want.' In other words, you now have the unique advantage of a liberal arts education that cannot be overstated," Frost said.

She went on to note that "contrary to the common belief that science, engineering, and mathematics graduates have the monopoly on success, the reality is that skills honed in your liberal arts education... are in high demand across industries."

Frost then shared that the soft skills learned at Wittenberg, especially during the pandemic, are the same ones prioritized by employers and the ones that set liberal arts graduates apart every time.

The Class of 2024 can now take those "soft skills and turn them into a superpower,” she said.

In her work at Apple, Frost knows firsthand founder Steve Jobs' company mantra: “The journey is the reward,” which she reaffirmed as she spoke to the graduates. She also urged the class to empower themselves and others.

“Having light we pass it on to others,” she said, quoting Wittenberg’s beloved motto, and explaining how it should remind all the graduates of their “collective responsibility to share knowledge and contribute positively to society."

Frost further encouraged the members of the Class of 2024 to do the following:

  • "Dare to take risks in a field that you are passionate about. This is where you’ll find your true drive and purpose."
  • "Enrich your liberal arts background by weaving in technology. This powerful combination prepares you for the future and sets you apart in your career."
  • "Embrace your vulnerabilities. They are not weaknesses, but strengths to allow for deeper connections and more authentic leadership."

Lastly, she shared with the graduates that, "as you venture into this world, carry this light boldly, share it generously, and maybe one day you’ll return to Wittenberg to share the light that was given to you."

The conferring of degrees then followed. A total of 107 graduates earned Latin honors in recognition of their exceptional academic pursuits, including 42 graduating summa cum laude, 19 graduating magna cum laude, and 46 cum laude. Eight seniors were recognized for having a 4.0 grade point average: Danny Bean, Fort Wayne, Indiana; Nicholas Cunningham, Fredericktown, Ohio; Nicholas Brown, Fairborn, Ohio; Samantha Goyings, Springfield, Ohio; Joseph Horoszko, Seven Hills, Ohio; Matthew Moore, Wadsworth, Ohio; Mary Oerther, La Grange, Kentucky; and Caroline Sedor, Newark, Ohio.

Lastly, the graduates were welcomed into Wittenberg’s vibrant alumni community by Matt Overturf, class of 2011, and president of the Wittenberg University Alumni Association.

Overturf encouraged the class to stay connected to Wittenberg by participating in regional alumni chapters and by returning to campus often to remember the past and remain a part of the University’s future. He also urged the class to support Wittenberg and to represent their alma mater well in the world.

“Let your actions as a graduate speak volumes for what Wittenberg helped you develop into and wear the flying W or display that flag, bumper sticker, or license plate holder with pride,” he said.

Parker Hayes, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Branden Nicholas, Oak Park, Michigan, Alma Mater and Alma Lux for the class of 2024, respectively, gave a quick congratulatory message to their classmates before leading them in the singing of the University’s Alma Mater.

The Class of 2024 included students from Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia, as well as three international students from Eritrea, Spain, and Tanzania.

Degrees awarded included a bachelor of arts, bachelor of music education, bachelor of science, bachelor of science in nursing, masters of arts in sports administration, master of arts in education, and master of science in analytics. Seventeen students earned departmental honors. Five students earned two degrees, and the most popular majors included biology, business management, education, exercise science, nursing, psychology, sociology, and sports management.

Today’s ceremony also included some special notes. Racheal Tingley, Tipp City, Ohio, became the first Wittenberg student to earn a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of music education. Tingley graduated in December with a BA in theatre, and she did the BME in music. Katie Troyer, Orrville, Ohio, became the first student to graduate with a degree in supply chain management in the business department. She has already secured a job with Safelite Headquarters.

The event was streamed live, a recording of which will be available online at later today.  For that link and additional Commencement information, click here. Full Flickr gallery of photos coming soon, as well.

Graduation Guide
Wittenberg University celebrates its graduates and their tremendous academic achievement each year with Commencement Exercises. Our 2024 Commencement took place in its traditional outdoor location on Saturday, May 11.
Learn More
Cindy Holbrook
Cindy Holbrook
Senior Communications Assistant

About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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