ODI graduates implored to show love and fight for the change they seek in the world

ODI Scholars in cap and gown with ODI stole

ODI graduates implored to show love and fight for the change they seek in the world

by Aaron Marshall

The enduring power of love and the importance of advocating for social change were on the minds of student speakers as about 150 scholars took part in ODI's Graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 2nd at the Ohio Union.

“We don't shy away from tough conversations, we welcome them,” said Alex Abreo, a Morrill Scholar graduating with a bachelor's degree in neuroscience. “Our own university arrests students for exercising their First Amendment rights. Students—more than ever—we need to stand up and be a voice of the voiceless.”

Yolanda Zepeda, the interim vice provost for diversity and inclusion, told the students that those involved in recent protests on campus over Gaza were following in the footsteps of students whose 1968 protests resulted in the formation of ODI.

“I am heartened by the fact that students are standing up for what they believe in and raising important moral questions. Know this: We will always and forever support your right to protest in this office,” Zepeda said. “The truth is we are living through a historical moment right now. This is an inflection point for our world as we grapple with critical questions that will shape our trajectory going forward.” ODI's event was a precursor to Sunday's main graduation ceremony at Ohio Stadium.

Representing graduate and professional students at the ceremony was Cameron Justice, an aptly-named new graduate of the Moritz College of Law who gave remarks imploring graduates to be open to love. “Love is so powerful because it requires us to be vulnerable and authentic,” said the first Black editor of the Journal of Dispute Resolution. “I have news for you, there's a lot of love in this room tonight.”

Andrea Williams, the interim associate vice provost for ODI, told the students they are “standing on the shoulders of so many who believed in you and believe in you now” as she saluted the family and friends who supported the graduates.

ODI's event was a precursor to the main graduation ceremony at Ohio Stadium on Sunday. At the ODI event, students were draped with ODI stoles to wear as part of their graduation regalia at Ohio State's formal ceremony.

Some units also held special year-end ceremonies with 2008 graduate Crystal Files, an insurance executive, speaking at the ACCESS Collaborative graduation event and 2010 graduate Ashley Sneed, a nurse practitioner, speaking at the MSP Alumni Dinner.

OSU ODI ballons
2 ODI grads hug
ODI grads standing in audience
ODI grads listen to speaker
Decorated ODI caps
Smiling ODI grad
ODI grad with family
Family hugs ODI grad
Grads smile in cap and gown