BGSU Firelands celebrates academic achievements of the Class of 2024

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Firelands hosts celebration to recognize degree completions

By Patrick Pfanner '14

Ahead of University-wide Commencement exercises, graduating students at Bowling Green State University Firelands reflected on their academic journeys and individual accomplishments on April 19 during a special celebration on the Huron campus.

These stories represent the diverse experiences and journeys of BGSU Firelands students, each overcoming challenges and growing personally and professionally. As they prepare to graduate, they carry with them the knowledge, skills, and support gained from their time and are poised to make an impact in their chosen fields and communities. 

Spencer Keefe '24

College Credit Plus student Spencer Keefe stops for a photo with Ram Veerapaneni, interim dean of BGSU Firelands, during the 2024 BGSU Firelands graduate celebration.

Spencer Keefe is a senior at Sandusky High School who earned an Associate of Science degree at BGSU Firelands through the College Credit Plus Program. He plans to pursue further education to one day work in air traffic control. 

Keefe said he learned to overcome the challenges of a busy schedule that included college courses, high school classes, an internship, volunteering and maintaining a part-time job. Keefe highlighted his newly developed professional writing ability as one of the key skills he gained through his BGSU experience.

"BGSU Firelands is a place where the instructors and staff work with you and really care about you as a person," he said. “My BGSU education was a great head start on my continued education. Anyone who does not take advantage of the College Credit Plus experience is missing out."

Araiha Richardson '24

Araiha Richardson started her journey at BGSU Firelands in August 2020 in pursuit of an associate degree. She said the most transformative part of the experience was delving into classes about heritage, which deepened her understanding of the past and provided invaluable insights. 

Richardson said she learned how to persevere amid personal challenges while at BGSU Firelands.

“Every day won’t be the best, but you need to at least try and stay focused,” she said, noting she hopes future students share that sentiment to succeed. 

Brandi Anderson '24

Brandi Anderson (left) smiles with Ram Veerapaneni, interim dean of BGSU Firelands, during the 2024 graduate celebration.

Brandi Anderson started at BGSU Firelands in January 2020 and is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Inclusive Early Childhood Education.

"The most transformative experience that has shaped my personal and professional growth has been my time in the classroom student teaching and seeing the relationships I’ve built with students, families, colleagues and peers grow," Anderson said. "I have had some health concerns over my senior year and those have been the most challenging to deal with while completing my student teaching internship. Having supportive family, classmates and support from faculty member June Haynes and University mentor Scott Haber helped me to get through that difficult time."

Anderson said she hopes to make a positive impact on all future students.

"My education at BGSU Firelands has equipped me with many strategies to work with many different types of students," she said. "Looking back on my academic journey, I would suggest future students who are looking to become teachers should never give up, believe in themselves and know that it's never too late to go to college or even go back to college."

Steven Gwinner '24

Steven Gwinner BGSU Firelands
Steven Gwinner in North Building at BGSU Firelands.

Steven Gwinner, a Castalia, Ohio, native, who is graduating with an Associate of Science in Radiologic Technology, started their college journey in 2013 at BGSU Firelands. Seeking a new trajectory after sustaining an injury while working as an emergency medical technician, the Huron campus offered Gwinner the perfect avenue to pursue their educational aspirations with its proximity to home and diverse academic offerings.

"Being in EMS for a long time, I was used to being able to help people when they were at their worst,” Gwinner said. “When I got injured, I was looking for a way to continue doing what I loved. I wanted to go into healthcare. I knew with the injuries I had, I would not be able to do nursing.” 

Initially drawn to the social work program, Gwinner’s aspirations took a different turn after a hiatus from academia to work remotely for Apple, Inc. Yet, their resolve to return to pursue their education remained. Upon their return to BGSU Firelands in 2018, Gwinner encountered a supportive community that would play a pivotal role in their personal and professional growth.

Brandy Pollick '24

Firelands Photos February 2023
Brandy Pollick (left) works in the respiratory care lab at BGSU Firelands alongside program coordinator Carol Puder.

Brandy Pollick started her BGSU journey in August 2021. Pollick, who previously earned an Associate of Science in Respiratory Care and is now earning a Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care, expressed gratitude for the support she received from professors and advisors.  

"My time at BGSU Firelands has helped me get the most out of my education," she said, emphasizing the importance of utilizing available resources and seeking assistance when needed. "I urge future students to use all of the resources available to you as a BGSU Firelands student. If you start to struggle in any class, ask for help right away. Don’t wait until it affects your grades. Never stop learning."

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | | 419-372-6349

Updated: 04/30/2024 10:09AM