On May 10, the West Virginia University Coliseum was filled with thousands of people as families traveled from near and far to watch more than 600 business and economics students graduate. There were many notable figures present to help celebrate the momentous occasion.
William “Bill” Sheedy, a 1988 alumnus and Executive Vice President, Corporate Strategy, M&A, Government Relations and Europe for Visa, addressed the B&E graduates.
“We are on the threshold of an extraordinary era. You should feel anything but cautious. I want to convince you that you have the potential for unprecedented prosperity,” he said. “Your generation can fundamentally change how organizations work… Any business person will tell you hierarchy is a close cousin of bureaucracy.”
Sheedy, who said that the impact WVU had on him was second only to that of his family, instructed graduates to work hard – harder than everybody – and to invest their time with others who also work hard. He also urged students to remain steadfast when faced with difficult decisions.
“You must trust your gut. Your life in business is not about winning or financial success – it’s about people. Be dedicated to your craft and be proud of the important decisions you make and the way they impact other people,” Sheedy said.
Sheedy’s speech was followed with the awarding of an honorary doctorate degree to 1970 graduate and 2011 B&E Roll of Distinguished Alumni inductee Fred Tattersall.
“I’m deeply humbled and honored by this doctorate, and go Mountaineers!” he proudly exclaimed.
The announcing of graduates was peppered with memorable moments. A few lucky students had entire sections of the Coliseum stand and cheer loudly as their name echoed through the room. MSIR graduate Jonathan Kimble, who served as the Mountaineer mascot from 2012-2014, wore a raccoon tail in lieu of the traditional cap tassel. WVU President E. Gordon Gee hugged each and every graduate as they walked across the stage.
Gee, too, had a few wise words for the graduates.
“Remember to say ‘thank you,’ remember to smile. And always, always remember your alma mater,” he said.
After each new graduate was recognized, Cassandra Baylous, an honors graduate earning her accounting degree, shared some remarks that reflected the Class of 2014’s time at B&E, while looking toward a bright future.
“Whatever we are, whatever we do, whoever we become – once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer,” she said.
The ceremony concluded with the entire crowd joining in song to “Country Roads.” In traditional Mountaineer style, graduates linked arms and swayed as the familiar anthem rang throughout the Coliseum.