Scholar tells fellow EOU graduates to reach out with sense of caring

June 20, 2012 08:58 am


By Dick Mason

The Observer

With people watching throughout the world on a webcast,  about 400 seniors  made their commencement walks at EOU’s graduation Saturday. 

The seniors emerged with words of timeless wisdom from many sources, including classmate Nathan Smutz, the President’s Scholar. Smutz, who grew up in La Grande, urged the graduates  to reach out to others not out of a sense of duty but with a sense of caring. 

“If I fund charities and feed the poor and even pay the ultimate price for what I believe in, but don’t genuinely care for the people I’m serving, I myself, am left empty by it,’’ said Smutz, the son of

Irwin and Carole Smutz of La Grande.

Smutz said that as he looked out on the graduates at Community Stadium he saw love.

“I see the people who came to see their loved ones walk, and I see the shadows of those we wish were here,’’ said Smutz,   who graduated Summa Cum Laude with a computer science/ multimedia studies degree. 

He said the presence and actions of the EOU Class of 2012 honored and praised “the sacrifice, effort and hope of all those who care how we leave this field.’’

Smutz also said he saw power among EOU’s Class of 2012.

 “I see the power in the learning and strength of character those (graduation) robes represent, and I see the love of all those who brought us here,’’ the president’s scholar said.

Smutz said the increased ability the EOU’s newest graduates have to understand the world and to change it does not make him and his classmates better people. 

“That power is a fact. It is how we use it that either ennobles or degrades us,’’ Smutz said.

The presentation by Smutz followed by opening remarks by President Bob Davies, who said the Class of 2012 will face many challenges brought on by a poor economy, wars, international instability and more. 

“However, your journey is anchored with hope, excitement and inspiration. With the power of your knowledge and the skills you learned and honed here at Eastern, we know you will be successful and that you will be able to overcome the challenges that you will encounter. Now, more than ever, society needs you to overcome these challenges and to succeed.’’

 Davies said to do this the graduates must be able to “see the practical when everyone else sees only the impractical.’’

EOU’s Brianna Coulombe, a student representative on the State Board of Higher Education, told the Class of 2012 to savor graduation day and the energy encompassing it. Coulombe advised the students to “store the energy of today and use it whenever you need a booster shot.’’’

The students who were presented diplomas included those in the Oregon State University Agriculture Program at Eastern. Davies donned a cowboy hat before greeting these students, whose degrees are from OSU. This was one of many steps Davies, who danced with and hugged many of the graduates, took to add zest to the ceremony. 

Davies said people from as far away as Japan and China had logged on to the live webcast EOU produced of commencement.

The approximately 400 students who received diplomas were among 684 who earned degrees from EOU in 2011-12. At least 2,500 people attended Eastern’s 82nd annual commencement ceremony.