Keenum: MSU graduates ready to ‘make a difference in this world’

Contact: Carl Smith

2022 MSU Fall Commencement
Mississippi State graduates listen to President Mark E. Keenum’s morning commencement speech Friday [Dec. 9] at Humphrey Coliseum. Keenum said the graduates’ experiences and education have prepared them to “make a difference in this world.” (Photo by Grace Cockrell)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A new class of Mississippi State graduates is ready to make a positive difference in the world, said President Mark E. Keenum during fall commencement ceremonies.

The university honored more than 1,100 graduates who participated in in-person ceremonies Friday [Dec. 9] at the Starkville campus. Keenum, a three-time MSU graduate with degrees in agricultural economics, served as the keynote speaker.

Fall 2022 MSU Commencement
MSU President Mark E. Keenum congratulates a graduate during Friday's [Dec. 9's] morning commencement ceremony. (Photo by Grace Cockrell)

The university is expected to award about 1,600 degrees total this semester. On Thursday [Dec. 8], an additional 124 MSU-Meridian graduates were honored at the Riley Center in Meridian, and more than 70 Ph.D. graduates were recognized at a Starkville campus hooding ceremony.

“All that you’ve accomplished here has helped prepare you for the next step in your life’s journey, for the new memories you’re about to create, for the next years and decades to come here in the 21st century, which belongs to you—this is your century,” Keenum said. “You are prepared to make a difference in this world, to be a change agent for good, to impact the lives of the many, many people you will encounter.”

Graduates who use their education and follow MSU’s core values—integrity, hard work and respect for others—as a guidepost for how to live their lives “stand out and are noticed,” Keenum said.

“Your ultimate success in life, just like your family members have taught you, depends on how you choose to live your life. We all depend on other people to help us in our life’s journey,” he said. “We need others in our lives, and that’s why exemplifying the Mississippi State values will help you achieve great success, and that’s what I want for each and every one of you.”

Fall 2022 doctoral hooding ceremony
Mississippi State honored doctoral graduates Thursday [Dec. 8] during a hooding ceremony at Lee Hall’s historic Bettersworth Auditorium. James Mark-Ige, a Doctor of Philosophy graduate in the Bagley College of Engineering and Rula School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is hooded by Associate Professor Benjamin Magbanua and Dean Jason Keith. (Photo by Megan Bean)

Keenum reminisced on major milestones experienced by the graduating class—from achievements with student groups and organizations to the Bulldogs’ national championship run in the 2021 College World Series. It was one key event—the coronavirus outbreak of 2020—that Keenum said showed graduates were ready to handle anything.

“You found a way to figure it out, to navigate, to be sitting right here where you are today. You persevered through some really difficult times. My hope and prayer for all of you is that many years from now, you will be able to look back at this time in your life and remember that you made it through some tough times. In spite of the challenges, you were able to stay focused and earn your degree from this great university,” he said.

“Never lose sight of the importance of education and being a lifelong learner,” Keenum added. “It is your education, your values and your faith that will allow you to live a truly wonderful life.”

Keenum, a former Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has guided the university to unprecedented heights, and his interest in international food security has strengthened the university’s contributions to global economic sustainability. He has led MSU to record growth in enrollment, capital improvements and fundraising.

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Friday, December 9, 2022 - 1:19 pm