Graduates participating in the largest December commencement in the history of William Woods University were challenged Friday night to work with others in order to succeed in life.
Charles E. Kruse, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, delivered the commencement address at Cutlip Auditorium and told 650 graduates that to become successful they should live and work "the Woods Way."
"When I first heard about the Woods Way, I was intrigued. I have observed that it is not just a slogan. I have learned that it does mean a lot. It says a lot about the culture of this university, the caring of the faculty, and the closeness of the student body," Kruse said.
"You can accomplish a great deal if you have a lot of people helping you," Kruse said. "I'm thankful that I learned a long time ago that by yourself you can accomplish little. But if you have people around you who are supporting you, helping you and willing to work with you, the sky's the limit in terms of what you can do and accomplish."
Kruse told the graduates that the friendships they have made attending William Woods will carry through with the rest of their lives.
One such graduate was Theresa Gregar of Louisburg, Kan., who received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.
"I loved attending college here at William Woods. The students, faculty and staff have been wonderful to me." Gregar said. She spent three and one-half years attending William Woods in Fulton.
Kruse said all of the graduates have reason to be proud.
"A degree is something you have earned and it can never be taken away from you," Kruse said.
Kruse noted that many of the graduates obtained advanced degrees by attending satellite campuses of William Woods around the state.
"Many of you came to Fulton at this campus to study and for some of you William Woods came to you," Kruse said.
Kruse praised President Jahnae H. Barnett for creating many programs William Woods offers throughout the state and nation. He said for many students it is the only possible way they could graduate.
Several of the graduates with families obtained degrees while working at full-time jobs and attending classes at night.
Many of the graduates were involved in William Woods' graduate and professional studies program. One of them was James Morrow of Jefferson City. It took him two years to earn a masters in Business Administration degree while attending classes at the Jefferson City campus of William Woods. Most classes meet once a week for four hours in the evening and courses ranged from five to 10 weeks.
Paula Neal of Birch Tree said she earned a Masters in Administration degree in about one and one-half years in the university's cohort program where credit is given for lifetime experiences. She also prepared projects and wrote papers to secure the degree.
Miriam Avery of Burdette, Ark., said she earned a Masters in Education degree in 18 months at the New Madrid campus of William Woods.
To earn a degree, Kruse said it takes dedication, persistence and commitment.
"When you walk across this stage to receive your diploma tonight, no one will ever be able to take that away from you. You worked for it. You earned it. You own it," Kruse said.
"You reached a plateau tonight. And as we all know, with each plateau you achieve in life, greater opportunities exist," Kruse said.
Kruse urged graduates to become active in the communities where they settle.
Kruse said life has many twists and turns. "But I have learned that most of the time, things seem to work out okay as long as we strive to do the best we can do and look for opportunities," Kruse said.
In introducing Kruse, praised the Missouri Farm Bureau president for his many accomplishments and noted that they are both from Southeast Missouri and both are graduates of Arkansas State University.
A total of 491 December graduates were conferred degrees. Another 158 graduates whose degrees were conferred in August were eligible to participate in the winter ceremony.