MSU Fall Commencement recognizes more than 600 degree candidates

Staff Report

MOREHEAD – Morehead State University honored more than 600 degree candidates at its fall commencement ceremonies on Saturday at the Academic-Athletic Center.

There were smiles, cheers and lots of photographs taken as the newest alumni took the ceremonial walk across the stage, signifying the completion of their college degrees. They were greeted by MSU President Wayne D. Andrews who offered a congratulatory handshake to each of those completing graduate and undergraduate degree requirements.

Alexandra Taylor Queen of Catlettsburg was the student speaker. It was a special day as Queen’s mother Kristina Day also graduated.

“Today is a special day for me, because not only am I the first to graduate in my family, but I am also able to share this experience with my mother, who is sitting in the audience graduating today, as well. We all have our own story, and have all worked in different ways to get where we are.”

Queen is a candidate for a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education P-5.

A graduate of Paul G. Blazer High School in Ashland, she was a member of Beta Club, was on the highest Honor Roll, and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

She started her college career through Ashland Community and Technical College, where she received the Incoming Freshman Scholarship for academic success. She carried that scholarship throughout her time at ACTC. Upon her arrival at Morehead State University, she was awarded a full academic scholarship as well.

During her time at MSU, Queen has retained a cumulative grade-point-average of 4.0, and has been on the Dean’s list.

After graduation, she plans to seek a teaching position in elementary education. Queen also will pursue graduate studies in administration, while teaching at the elementary level.

“Today, we face a world where we must be adaptable, ready to take chances, and go different routes. MSU has prepared me, and I am sure all of you, to be ready to face competition in the work force which is something else we must be ready to face,” Queen told the crowd.

“We must move into tomorrow, move into our future, remaining devoted to learning and focused on our new goals we aim to achieve. Graduation is not the end goal, but instead a part of a larger journey in life. Everyone sitting here today is going somewhere; my prayer for you is that you make it there.”

Dr. Carl Rollins of Midway received an Honorary Doctor of Public Service degree.

He is currently the executive director and chief executive officer of the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) and the Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corp. (KHESLC).

KHEAA is the agency that administers state grant, scholarship and savings programs and provides free college and financial aid planning publications to Kentuckians. KHESLC provides Kentucky’s only state-based private higher education loans and services federal student loans for the U.S. Department of Education.

An advocate for education in Kentucky for many years, he has served as mayor of Midway and Woodford County magistrate, and as a state representative from the 56th District (Woodford and parts of Franklin and Fayette counties) for five years.

During his tenure in the House of Representatives, Rollins served as chair of the House Education Committee and was on the budget review subcommittees on primary and secondary education and postsecondary education.

Dr. Rollins’ educational experience includes stints as director of community education for Woodford County Schools and director of admissions at Midway College.

He is a graduate of Woodford County High School. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Morehead State University and a master’s degree in business administration and doctorate degree in educational policy studies and evaluation from the University of Kentucky.

For the commencement exercises, the grand marshal and mace bearer was Dr. Itza A. Zavala-Garrett, associate professor of Spanish, who received the 2015 Distinguished Teacher Award.

Faculty marshals were Dr. Frances L. Helphinstine, professor of English, and Dr. Dora Ahmadi, associate professor of mathematics.

Student marshals were Sara Phillips and Casey Sturgill, Graduate Programs; Emery Clark IV and Amy Evans, College of Science; Waylan Coffey and Michael Hutchinson, College of Business and Technology; April Bailey and E. Leighann Switzer, College of Education; Courtney Lawson and Ariel Snider, Caudill College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Olivia Scholl sang the national anthem; Haley Clay led the alma mater; and MSU’s Black Gospel Ensemble, directed by Dr. Roosevelt Escalante, performed during the commencement program.

ROTC students were commissioned as part of the program.

Following the ceremony, the newest alumni were inducted into the MSU Alumni Association Inc. by its interim president, Jason Rainey.

Morehead State’s spring semester begins Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Additional information on Fall Commencement exercises is available by calling 606-783-2008 or online at

Staff Report

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