PITTSBURG — “What is it that you want to be remembered for?”
Pittsburg State University President Steve Scott gave the shortest speech in his 10-year history of being president during Friday’s commencements.
This short speech was to give PSU Provost Lynette Olson, who also serves as Vice President for Academic Affairs, an opportunity to share a message with the graduates.

Olson came to Pittsburg State in 1996 as professor and chair of the Department of Family & Consumer Sciences, and then served as dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. She served as provost since March 2010 after having served as interim provost for a year when, Scott — former vice president for academic affairs vice president — was named as the university’s ninth president.

Olson announced in November of last year that she will retire in June and during the ceremony she encouraged students to reflect on their legacy regardless of their age and to take the opportunity to do so while they were reaching a new adventure.
“Regardless of your age your now, you have reached a crossroads, a reference point, and can take the time to think about what it is you want to achieve here forward,” Olson said during the Kelce College of Business and School of Nursing commencement on Friday. “More than achievement, what is it that you want to be remembered for?”

The suggestion she made to the students was for their legacy be aspirational.

Between Friday and Saturday, approximately 1,100 undergraduate and graduate students earning degrees in the spring and summer semesters participated the 2019 Spring Commencement.

Among those students were Outstanding Senior Man and Woman, Long Xiao, of Pittsburg and originally from Shenzhen, China, and Gretchen Reed of Olathe. Xiao and Reed will also both graduate with two degrees.

According to a release from PSU, the Outstanding Senior selection process begins with nominations by faculty, staff, or student organization presidents. A committee evaluates the nominees with a review of their academic records, campus involvement, leadership in organizations, their awards and honors, community service, volunteer work, and contributions to the university and the community. A brass plaque inscribed with their names will be installed in the Senior Walk in front of Russ Hall in their honor.

Xiao and Reed delivered remarks to their fellow graduates on Friday and Saturday during the commencement ceremonies.

Reed, who holds a 4.0 GPA, graduated with a bachelor’s in Management and Marketing and a bachelor’s in English-Professional Writing, with a minor in Spanish. It was because of what she heard from her high school teachers, who are PSU alumni, that she chose PSU as her academic home.
Following graduation, Reed will begin a job in commercial finance in the Commerce Bank corporate offices in downtown Kansas City this summer, and next summer marry her fiancé, also a PSU student.  
"I’m fully aware of the shortage of female leadership in corporate America, and I plan to act as a direct force against this issue by becoming a leader myself,” she said in a release from the university. “I hope that, in some small way, my future leadership can inspire other women in business to have the confidence to lead others, to take risks that help them meet their goals, and to innovate in the corporate world.”

Xiao, who holds a 3.88 GPA, graduated with a degree in Political Science and International Studies — came to Pittsburg as a junior in high school to attend St. Mary’s-Colgan.  

Following graduation, Xiao will begin a program at the University of Florida that will enable him to work on his masters and doctoral degrees at the same time, and will work as a graduate assistant.
“I was so inspired by my professors here, who were so valuable to introducing me to research, that I want to become a professor and a scholar myself someday in international relations and political science,” he said in a release from the university. “Winding up teaching back here on campus would certainly be a dream come true. Ultimately, wherever I go, my primary objective is to educate and enlighten people with facts to inform them so they can be better citizens — not just American citizens, but global citizens.”

During Friday’s 5:30 p.m. commencement ceremony Scott recognized members of the Class of 1969. On Thursday, the group gathered for a dinner and then Friday morning they had breakfast with Scott and his wife, followed by a morning of exploring campus and Pittsburg.

They were then inducted into the Half-Century Club in the Crimson & Gold Ballroom in a ceremony. They received their 50-year medallions from Scott and gathered at Russ Hall for a class photo.

PSU also had two other ceremonies for students on Friday, the Nurse Pinning Ceremony in the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts and the ROTC Spring Commissioning at the Veterans Memorial with guest speaker The Adjunct General Major General Lee Tafanelli.