The celebration of graduates and the university continued on day two of commencement


Jesse Khalil

Attendees watched as Virginia Addicott, member of the Kent State University Board of Trustees, addressed the graduates May 13, 2022.

Jesse Khalil, Reporter

The faint clicking of high heels and rustling of graduation programs fell silent once Kent State University President Todd Diacon and his party were escorted to the stage at the Education, Health and Human Services commencement ceremony on May 13 at 1 p.m. on Manchester Field.

The president’s party, which included the Mesa bearer, registrar, university deans, trustees and provost, walked on a long blue carpet leading to the stage, which was decorated with gold flowers, while a string of men played the bagpipes.

Attendees’ eyes were glued to the stage as Provost Melody Tankersley began her speech to the graduating class by talking about mayonnaise.

“People love it, people tolerate it and people detest it,” Tankersley said.

The audience listening to Melody Tankersley address the graduating class during her speech at the Education, Health and Human Services graduation ceremony on May 13, 2022. (Jesse Khalil)

This makes it the “great divider” of the condiment world, which she compared to the divides in our real world.

“These divisions in the world today are not inconsequential differences, not trivial preferences regarding the likes of mayonnaise, they are complicated and consequential and need to be addressed,” she said.








Tankersley then addressed the unlikelihood of division ever going away fully, which is why it is so important to make efforts to understand the root of division and how we can overcome it to unite, she said. She laid out principles for the graduates to remember and take out into the real world when they encounter division.

“It begins with knowing our knowledge is incomplete,” Tankersley said. “It is a complete necessity for learning.”

The next step is to get to know others who hold opposing views and beliefs than you own, Tankersley said.

“Understanding how individuals with different views see their world is so important to understanding,” she said.

Finally, the Kent State graduates are called to use newfound understanding and knowledge to be more kind toward one another, Tankersley said.

“Use the knowledge that you have gained throughout your time at Kent State to continue to grow in understanding and kindness,” she said.

The crowd erupted in applause once Tankersley closed her address. Diacon congratulated the class of 2022 for earning their degrees before Tankersley took the stage again to recognize graduates who earned honors and then the conferral of degrees.

After this, graduates began to line up on the side of the stage, some waving to family in the crowd and others wiping away tears of joy. Daniella Kaufmann, a graduate with a hospitality and business management degree, teared up as she walked across the stage.

“It feels so unreal to be done,” Daniella said. “I feel like one chapter of my life is complete and now it is onto the next.”

Daniella was greeted by her mother, Dena, holding a bouquet of pink and white roses smiling ear to ear waiting for her daughter to run into her arms.

“I could not wait to just hug her,” Dena said. “I am so proud of my baby and all she has accomplished so far; I could not be a happier mom right now.”

Graduate Ciara Aldridge and her support system pose after Ciara walked across the stage receiving her degree at the Education, Health and Human Services commencement ceremony May 13, 2022. (Jesse Khalil)

Ciara Aldridge, a human development and family studies graduate, walked off the stage with her head held high searching for her friends and family. Aldridge reflected back to her freshman year, one of the hardest years for her.

“After that, I had to take a step back and reevaluate myself,” Aldridge said. “College was nothing like high school and I had to take a step back and do things a little differently.”

Aldridge then took the initiative to put more time aside to study, and also utilized the resources Kent State offered to her.

“I had to step out of my comfort zone in order to succeed, but it was all for the right reasons and I am here today because of that,” Aldridge said.

Margret Kaminski and her mother, Marcy, were holding hands and hugging one another walking away from the stage. Margret held her degree tight to her chest as she reflected on her journey here at Kent State.

Marcy was eager to talk about how proud she was of her daughter and the new job she has lined up to be a high school science teacher in Columbus.

“I am so proud of her I can hardly contain it,” Marcy said. “She has always been a hard worker and even went to school another year so she could be certified to teach all the different sciences.”

Katie Frank, a graduate with a degree in special education, was surrounded by her father, mother, grandmother and siblings. The support Katie feels from her family is only part of what made her experience so memorable and positive.

“I really never had a dream school, so I decided to come to Kent and really fell in love with it,” Katie said. “It has been a beyond amazing experience.”

Katie thanked her mother, Beck, and grandmother, Gale, for their unconditional support as well. Beck and Gale begin to cry as Katie reflects on her time at the university and how valuable the support has been.

“I really made a community of people who have been my backbone throughout my time here,” Katie said. “My roommate, who is my best friend, and my family have been a source of positivity for me through it all.”

Gale was most excited for Katie to have an in-person graduation. Beck also expressed how great it was to be in-person to celebrate.

“I am really excited that she has the opportunity to have this all-in person instead of a virtual name-calling over an empty stage,” Beck said.

Alex Jones, an integrated language arts education major, walked off the stage and immediately hugged her boyfriend, Jake Battaglia, her “biggest supporter through it all,” she said.

Jones touched on the hardships the pandemic presented for her and how she appreciates being able to be in person again.

“For an education major, doing online classes during COVID and not being able to be in the classroom with students was difficult,” Jones said. “Now that classes can be in person and now the ceremony too, I already feel so much better and more confident as I go out into the field and interact with students face to face.”

Jesse Khalil is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]