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174th BW Commencement celebrates resilience

The celebration was a first for undergraduates who began their college journey in the tumultuous fall of 2020 after missing out on high school graduation ceremonies.

BW Commencement May 2024

Although the reverberations of COVID-19 have faded, Baldwin Wallace University's 174th Commencement exercises took note of the way the pandemic shaped the college experience for undergraduates who completed high school when the world was upended by COVID-19.

The pandemic triggered the cancellation of in-person high school graduation exercises that spring, meaning that the pomp and pageantry celebrating the BW Class of 2024 on Saturday, May 4, was a first for 638 graduates earning bachelor's and master's degrees. 

Inspired by an Innovator

BW Commencement Speaker Glenn Barrett

Before they crossed the stage to collect their diploma cases and turn their tassels, the graduates and faculty, family, friends and other dignitaries packed into Ursprung Gymnasium heard a keynote address by Glenn Barrett '71, founder and CEO of OrthoLite, Inc.

The globally acclaimed leader of the high-performance footwear manufacturer, including an innovative, comfortable and sustainable insole used by the world's most iconic shoe brands, applauded the grads for their resilience since ending high school and entering college in uncertain times.

"Many of you attended school online and in your pajamas and didn't get to go to your prom or high school graduation in person," he noted. "Most of you met each other and attended classes wearing masks."

Trial and error over time

Explaining his own winding career path from ski instructor to sales job to entrepreneur, Barrett advised the Class of 2024, "Don't expect to have it figured out when you walk out of here today. Just keep an open mind and continue listening, learning and exploring your possibilities."

Barrett said he is amazed to look back on his career 50 years after graduating from BW. "And you all will surely look back on this moment in 5, 10, 20 or 50 years and be amazed at what you have been able to accomplish and experience in your lives," he concluded.

"Class of 2024, your future is unbelievably bright. So bright, in fact, that I would like to leave you with two words of practical advice: WEAR SUNSCREEN."

Following his speech, Barrett was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from BW.

Awards, honors and accolades

BW Commencement Milton T. Baldwin winner

Special recognition for high-achieving members of the Class of 2024 included the prestigious Milton T. Baldwin Prize, established in 1859 and given to the graduate with the highest academic achievement at BW.

This year's award went to Bailey Catherine Hall, who posted a perfect 4.0 grade point average, taking all courses at BW and earning double degrees, both a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts with majors in neuroscience and sociology.

A number of factors go into choosing the winner in addition to GPA. In fact, there were 13 BW undergraduates who worked their way to straight A's through the fall semester. Students also earning a perfect 4.0 were: Grace Albus, Makaela Bogardy, Molly Cancian, Geneviéve Carreño, Katie Ann Colabianchi, Meg Felty, Marissa Luce, Matthew Perry, Dana Rabung, Simon Skoutas, Morgan Stoltz and Brooke Walborn.

An impressive number of undergraduate students also graduated with Latin honors: 88 earned summa cum laude recognition with a cumulative GPA of 3.90 or higher, 80 graduated magna cum laude with at least a 3.75 GPA, while another 69 earned cum laude honors with at least a 3.60 GPA.

Some 70 students were recognized as elite Dayton C. Miller Honor Society members, while 17 students who completed the enhanced BW Honors Program curriculum stood to be applauded.

Super Seniors and Leaders

Ten graduates were recognized as 2024 Outstanding Seniors for overall excellence and contributions to campus life, including academics, leadership, service and involvement on and off campus.

The 2024 graduating seniors acknowledged for demonstrating excellence in all areas of their University endeavors are: Brianna Bell, Kevin Bubnick, Geneviéve Carreño, Da'Von McDonald, Dane McNulty, Kierra Mullins, Zach Ottenweller, Matthew Perry, Mehraeel Saleh and Ayah Zureiqat.

Senior Class President Kayela Swansiger also came forward to add the class colors of orange and ivory onto the ring of ribbons, a BW tradition since 1915, and led fellow graduates in an "Aww Jackets" cheer.

Other Grad Day Activities

BW Commencement Baccalaureate

Steeped in cherished traditions, BW Commencement Day also included a Baccalaureate service that featured special music by students and an inspiring address on the theme "Courage and the Process of Becoming" by communications professor Dr. Andrew Dohanos.

Baccalaureate was followed by the President's Reception in the Strosacker Hall union ballroom, where all graduating seniors and their families, faculty and staff were invited to mix and mingle, snap photos and enjoy appetizers and desserts.

@baldwinwallaceuniversity The journey is only beginning for our BW grads!🎓👏🐝 #BaldwinWallaceUniversity #Classof2024 #clevelandohio #graduate #collegegraduation #collegegrad #makeadifference ♬ Love Of My Life - Metrow Ar

In another longstanding graduation day custom, The White Rose Ceremony recognized a select group of 27 young women while honoring Philura Gould Baldwin, granddaughter of BW founder John Baldwin. She helped establish the BW library and the University's brown and gold colors.

Video replay and photos

Congratulations to the Class of 2024 graduates who now take their places among 48,000-plus BW graduates or "Yellow Jackets for Life" (YJ4L) who have come before them since the school's founding in 1845.

In addition to this page and the gallery below, BW has preserved memories of your big day in  several ways. 

  • Watch the video replay of the entire ceremony on the BW YouTube channel.
  • To view and download general photos after the ceremony, visit BW on Flickr. Please note: A free Flickr account is required to download photos. 
  • You can also visit the BW Facebook page the week following commencement to view photos from the event.

May 2024 Commencement Gallery

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  • BW Commencement May 2024
  • Baldwin Wallace Commencement Fall 2023
  • Baldwin Wallace Commencement Fall 2023
  • BW Commencement May 2024
  • BW Commencement May 2024
  • BW Commencement May 2024
  • BW Commencement May 2024
  • BW Commencement May 2024
  • BW Commencement May 2024
  • BW Commencement May 2024

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