Gratitude was a theme expressed repeatedly throughout the two commencement ceremonies held Friday, Aug. 26, in Covelle Hall on the OSU Institute of Technology campus.
Tim Reggio, president of Submar Inc., addressed the nearly 300 OSUIT graduates telling students in both ceremonies the story of how he came to OSUIT as a student and his first experiences on campus.
Years after graduating from the School of Diesel & Heavy Equipment and working in the oil and gas industry, those lessons from OSUIT would again help shape his future when he set out to start his own company.
“OSUIT and my first 10 years in the workplace taught me well. Several instructors here at the university who I have great respect for mentored me. I found myself falling back on knowledge they shared with me— look for someone who has been successful and listen, watch and learn,” Reggio said.
Chief Petty Officer John Carver, who graduated with an Associate in Applied Science in Construction Management from the School of Construction Technologies, served as student respondent during the first ceremony Friday.
After 11 years in the Navy he decided to apply the skills he had learned in the military to the field of construction. In Construction Management courses Carver said students learn about building foundations and how important they are to handle the weight of the building.
“The key to a successful building starts at the foundation. We have just finished the foundations that we need to be successful. It is the schooling that gives us our foundation to fall back on during our careers,” he said. “For many of my fellow students we will be moving onto our future career where we will rely on the skills that OSUIT has taught us.”
Jake Sickels, who graduated with an Associate in Applied Science in Industrial and Farm Equipment from the Western Equipment Dealers Association Technician Training program, spoke during the evening graduation ceremony. He told his story of how he struggled during his first semester but soon found his footing thanks to his teachers.
“OSUIT taught me that the students here aren’t just numbers, we are people, young adults and most of all students. That the instructors here aren’t just numbers either, they are people, professionals and do everything they can and go out of their way to make us successful,” Sickels said.
Reggio said one of the greatest points of pride in his professional career has been having the opportunity to give back to his alma mater through several large donations of lab equipment and machinery.
“Giving back to the university was extremely gratifying to me considering all the university did for me,” he said. “Over the years I’ve found myself benefiting from the education I received from OSUIT. I’ve been back on campus probably 15 times since graduating. And I’ve hired several graduates. I know now, more than ever, I made the right choice attending OSUIT.”
Sickels said he wouldn’t have made it to the graduation stage without the encouragement and the challenges of his teachers.
“You all pushed us to be our best, to settle for nothing but what we deserve and to shoot for the moon. And in the worst case we will always land on a star,” he said.
The graduates may have earned their diplomas, but the real work has just begun, Carver said.
“In each of our careers we will be asked daily to perform tasks that an instructor has taught us how to do; however, we will have to continue to learn and build upon these foundations,” he said. “We each need to continue to learn, continue to grow and continue to strive for excellence. Use these skills to be the person you want to be whether it’s a CEO of a construction company, an ER trauma nurse or the owner of an automotive shop. Each of you possesses the foundation and the skills to reach the pinnacle of your field.”
Speaking from experience, Reggio said he knows what awaits the 204th graduating class of OSUIT, and that they also made the right choice.
“All of you are in a terrific place. You walk away today with an incredible advantage over many others, you hold a valuable technical degree from Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology,” he said. “That degree served me well and it will serve you well too.”