OSU-Cascades to graduate more than 300 students, including 5,000th in history, during commencement ceremony Sunday

Destiny Wilder of Redmond will graduate from OSU-Cascades on June 18 with a bachelor's degree in social science.
June 14, 2023

Oregon State University – Cascades will graduate 303 students, including the 5,000th graduate of the campus, during its commencement ceremony on Sunday, June 18.

A total of 238 students are expected to participate in the ceremony, which will take place at 10 a.m. on the oval green on the OSU-Cascades campus. 

Including the Class of 2023, OSU-Cascades will have awarded 5,295 undergraduate and graduate degrees since it was established in 2001, with nearly 2,000 students having earned degrees while studying at the campus that opened in 2016.

“Reaching 5,000 graduates is a remarkable achievement for OSU-Cascades, Central Oregon and for each and every student who has received a degree, and will receive a degree on Sunday,” said Sherm Bloomer, chancellor and dean of OSU-Cascades. “It’s also testimony to the academic faculty who have taught and inspired students, and family and friends who have supported them. Reaching this milestone could not have happened without the support of the Central Oregon community championing a university campus for the region.”

Bloomer will preside over the ceremony and OSU President Jayathi Murthy will confer degrees to students graduating.

Members of the platform party also include Kirk Schueler, chair of the OSU Board of Trustees; Andrew Ketsdever, dean of academic affairs at OSU-Cascades; Rod Ray, chair of the OSU-Cascades Advocacy and Advisory Board; Tim Carroll, dean of the OSU College of Business; Taha Elwefati, outgoing president of the Associated Students of Cascades Campus; and Molly Moran, an assistant professor of counseling, who will serve as faculty marshal at the commencement ceremony.

Ray, a lifetime Central Oregonian, biotech leader and OSU alumnus, will deliver the commencement address.

Bloomer will present OSU-Cascades’ Distinguished Service Award to Bill and Trish Smith for their decades-long community leadership in Central Oregon. Bill Smith passed away in November and Trish will be on hand to receive the award, which honors individuals, businesses or organizations who have made exceptional contributions to OSU-Cascades, Central Oregon, Oregon or the world.

Facts and figures about the OSU-Cascades’ class of 2023:

  • Bachelor’s degrees will be awarded to 241 students. Three undergraduates are dual majors and will receive two degrees.
  • Master’s degrees will be awarded to 62 students.
  • Four students have been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest academic honor society in the nation.
  • Three students will receive an OSU Honors degree, which requires completion of advanced classes and a thesis.
  • 23 students were selected by their faculty as Distinguished Students and will be honored at a ceremony on June 17.
  • The Class of 2023 includes 19 graduates of the energy systems engineering program. The program, which has produced 206 graduates in just over a decade, is one of only six of its kind in the country.
  • The Class of 2023 includes 18 graduates who are active-duty military personnel or veterans of the national armed forces.
  • 85% of the graduates are from Oregon, with 55% from Central Oregon. In addition, 21 of Oregon’s 36 counties are represented.
  • Graduates represent 21 other U.S. states and 3 countries.
  • The average age of the graduating class is 28; the oldest is 81 and the youngest is 20.

Each graduating student has a compelling story. For example:

  • George Tanasse, who grew up in Olympia, Washington, completes a degree in energy systems engineering in just four years. An active rock climber and snow sports adventurer, Tanasse suffered four traumatic brain injuries in two years while pursuing his degree, leaving him with bouts of depression and anxiety. “I owe my recovery to family and friends, and to OSU-Cascades’ faculty who were more than supportive when I put my mental health first and continued to remind me how much I enjoy learning,” he said. Tanasse believes his health experience changed him for the better, allowing him to connect more deeply with others and determine  his career trajectory, too. He hopes to use his engineering skills within the medical field and help those who face mental challenges.
  • Lily Bartel is from Lake Oswego and transferred to OSU-Cascades after taking courses at Portland Community College through a degree partnership program with OSU. A soccer player and cross-country runner in high school, she traces her interest in human movement to an anatomy and physiology class she took in high school. What she learned applied not only to her own sports activities and injury prevention, but also to others’ everyday lives. At OSU-Cascades, she majored in kinesiology and with support from faculty and a Layman Fellowship, worked with researchers in the FORCE biomechanics lab, where she pursued her own research and worked with industry clients testing footwear products. In the fall, Bartel will continue her work in the lab while pursuing a master’s degree in kinesiology at OSU and later plans to pursue a doctorate. “The faculty at OSU-Cascades have made a difference in my academic career and are invested in my future, too,” she said.
  • Destiny Wilder is a nearly-lifetime Central Oregonian from Redmond. Homeschooled, she went away to college, but it wasn’t a good fit. Back in Central Oregon with family, she was injured while working and her dominant, right hand suffered nerve damage. When her physical therapist encouraged her to do exercises like handwriting, she decided to go back to college at OSU-Cascades, where her mother had earned her degree in 2010. Majoring in social science with an option in community development and leadership, she became active in TRIO, a program for first-generation and Pell Grant eligible students, and for students with documented disabilities. She also engaged in local organizations like City Club of Central Oregon, and now feels ready to give back to the community. “I want to stay in Central Oregon as long as I can and work with nonprofit organizations on affordable housing and advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the region,” she said.

About OSU-Cascades:  Oregon State University’s campus in Bend brings higher education to Central Oregon, the fastest growing region in the state. Surrounded by mountains, forest and high desert, OSU-Cascades is a highly innovative campus of a top-tier land grant research university, offering small classes that accelerate faculty-student mentoring and experiential learning. Degree programs meet industry and economic needs in areas such as innovation and entrepreneurship, natural ecosystems, health and wellness, and arts and sciences, and prepare students for tomorrow’s challenges. OSU-Cascades is expanding to serve 3,000 to 5,000 students, building a 128-acre campus with net-zero goals.