Inspiring students prepare for summer commencement

BOWLING GREEN, O.— On August 7, more than 1,200 students at Bowling Green State University will receive their diplomas as part of summer commencement. The ceremony is at 9 a.m. on the University Hall lawn.

Three students who will be graduating have taken long and interesting roads to get to this point.

After 17 years as a prison correctional officer, Joseph Rowlett decided it was time for a change. Starting over in life, he enrolled at BGSU Firelands with a major in social work. Rowlett lived with one of his brothers while at Firelands, but when he completed his coursework there and moved to Bowling Green’s main campus last fall to finish his degree, he lived for six months in his van so that he could be a full-time student and concentrate on his class work. Finally, he was persuaded by Dave and Vicki Warner, who run the Active Christians Today house near campus, to come in from the cold and stay with them. Next he is off to New Mexico to obtain his master’s degree and plans to work on a Navajo reservation after that.
Russ Grycza is getting his bachelor’s degree after 30 years in the work force. Grycza briefly attended two universities after high school before choosing to focus on his job. In 2007, his wife convinced him to enroll at BGSU and finish his degree in Advanced Technology Education. He is now the head of the Digital Video Production Program at the Penta Career Center. Grycza’s son is also a Falcon and will be graduating from BGSU next spring.
Jessica Schmidt wasn’t sure she would live to see graduation. The Atlanta native and cancer survivor will be receiving her master’s degree in history. The summer before her senior year of high school she was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a childhood bone cancer. At the end of her treatment, she applied to BGSU, but the transition wasn’t easy. Schmidt struggled with depression and even contemplated suicide. She was eventually suspended from school due to her low GPA, a move she says probably saved her life. After receiving counseling, Schmidt returned to BGSU and never looked back. Schmidt’s father is also a BGSU alumnus.

Editor’s Note: If you are interested in speaking with any of the students listed, please contact Jennifer Sobolewski in the Office of Marketing and Communications, at 419-372-8582, or

(Posted August 02, 2010 )

Updated: 12/02/2017 01:06AM