William Woods University celebrated the largest December commencement in its history Friday, and graduates heard an inspiring speech from Charles E. Kruse, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau.
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.
Kruse told the 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.
During her remarks later in the evening, WWU President Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett also spoke of “the Woods Way.”
“At William Woods, the Woods Way is the way in which we live, learn and play. It is our small town campus, with big school opportunities. It is our knowledgeable faculty who impart their wisdom and experiences.
“It is our support of athletic teams and theatrical performances. It is eating in our dining hall and attending LEAD events. It is walking across our beautiful campus. But, most importantly, it is our way of succeeding,” Barnett said.
In introducing Kruse, Barnett praised the Missouri Farm Bureau president for his many accomplishments and noted that they are both from Southeast Missouri and they were classmates and friends as undergraduates at Arkansas State University.
“But Charles Kruse is so much more than a friend and so much more than a farmer. He is a well-respected, savvy businessman, with a lot of knowledge to impart on all of us,” Barnett said.
Kruse told the graduates, “You can accomplish a great deal if you have a lot of people helping you. 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.”
He noted that many of the graduates obtained degrees by attending programs offered by William Woods throughout the state, and he recognized Barnett for her efforts in making education accessible. For many students, he said, it is the only possible way they could graduate.
“Many of you came to Fulton at this campus to study and for some of you William Woods came to you,” he said.
Graduates of WWU’s Graduate and Professional Studies program attended classes in Blue Springs, Cadet. California, Cape Girardeau, Carrollton, Caruthersville, Chillicothe, Columbia, Doniphan, El Dorado Springs, Festus, Hannibal, Independence, Ironton, Jefferson City, Joplin, Kahoka, Kansas City, Kennett, Kirksville, Lake Ozark, Lee’s Summit, Mexico, Milan, Moberly, Mount Vernon, Mountain View, Neosho, New Madrid, Osage Beach, Perryville, Poplar Bluff, Rolla, Sedalia, Springfield, Summersville, Union, Warrenton, Wellsville and West Plains, as well as Paragould and Williford, Ark.
Kruse said all of the graduates have reason to be proud. To earn a degree, he said, takes dedication, persistence and commitment.
“A degree is something you have earned and it can never be taken away from you,” Kruse said. “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.”
He added, “You reached a plateau tonight. And as we all know, with each plateau you achieve in life, greater opportunities exist.”
Charles E. Kruse (left), William Woods University winter commencement speaker and president of Missouri Farm Bureau, visits with Sam B. Cook, senior chairman of the board of Central Bankcompany, and Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett, WWU president, before the graduation. Kruse and Barnett each serve on a Central Bank board, and Cook previously served on the WWU Board of Trustees.