It came on the evening of Wednesday, April 10, at the annual Leadership and Awards Banquet.
Jessica Berberich, an English major from Olathe, Kan., and Austin Osborn, a biology major from Carl Junction, Mo., learned they had been selected the Pittsburg State University Outstanding Senior Woman and Man for 2013. Both said they were excited and proud to receive the honor.
However, both were also a little nervous, as the recognition comes with an important task: a commencement address.
“We found out that we won on a Wednesday, and I starting putting together my speech that weekend,” Osborn said. “It’s a big responsibility to stand up there in front of so many people and represent the senior class. I wanted to make sure I gave myself the proper time to do it right.”
Both said they view their addresses as opportunities to reflect on their time at PSU and to inspire their fellow graduates to succeed in the future.
“I really wanted to use my address to talk about the challenges our generation faces and how our time at PSU has prepared us to take on those challenges,” Berberich said. “It’s kind of that old cliché of seeing this as a beginning rather than an ending.”
Berberich’s address features the poem “Lost Generation” by Jonathan Reed, which she said is her way of encouraging the graduates to take advantage of the opportunities before them.
“Every generation has the potential to overcome challenges and make the world a better place,” she said. “I want to tell the graduates that it’s now our turn to take on those responsibilities and not let them slide by. It’s our turn to face them and not lose that chance to do great things.”
Osborn said he pulled from a lot of his own experiences at PSU while preparing his speech.
“I wanted to reflect a lot upon my time here and use those memories to help me get my message across,” he said. “This is so much different than any speech or paper I’ve ever written because of the variety of people who will be there listening. You can’t just tailor it to one particular group of people. My time at PSU has involved so many different people, and I want to make sure my speech reflects that.”
While both admit to being somewhat nervous about giving their speeches, they are also excited for the opportunity.
“It’s surreal, to be honest,” Berberich said. “It’s graduation, and so many important people are going to be there. It’s also a huge honor to stand up there and represent such a great class of students. I’m very excited about it.”
Osborn said he’s tried to envision the view from the podium, but he knows his imagination is nothing like the real thing.
“It’s not going to hit me until we’re out there in that moment,” he said. “I’ve tried to picture standing in front of that many people, but it’s just something you have to experience.”
Commencement exercises for students in the College of Business as well as students in the College of Arts and Sciences from the departments of Art; Communication; History, Philosophy and Social Sciences; and General Studies, will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 10. The second ceremony, for students from the remaining departments in the College of Arts and Sciences, will begin at 8 p.m.
On Saturday, May 11, commencement exercises for students in the College of Technology will begin at 9 a.m. The final ceremony, for students in the College of Education, will begin at 11 a.m.
©2013 Pittsburg State University