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Kateryna Schray to deliver winter commencement speech at Marshall
The ceremony will be the fifth annual winter commencement for Marshall. The university began conducting a winter graduation ceremony in 2008 with a convocation at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center. The speaker was Dr. Montserrat Miller, a professor of history. Winter commencement began in 2009 and the tradition of having an MU professor deliver the keynote address continued.
Previous commencement speakers were Dr. Simon Perry, professor of political science, in 2009; Dr. Bonita Lawrence, professor of mathematics, in 2010; Dr. Jamie Warner, professor of political science, in 2011; and Dan Hollis, an associate professor of journalism, in 2012.
Commencement begins at 2 p.m. and is for students who graduated in July or August 2013, or are tentatively scheduled to graduate this month.
Schray has been at Marshall since 1996, when she was hired as an assistant professor of English.
"I am truly humbled and fully aware of what a great privilege it is to share this important day with the graduates," Schray said. "I attend every graduation that I can because it really is a big deal, it represents so much achievement, effort, sacrifice ... every graduation I applaud every single graduate as his or her name is called, every single one, no matter how many there are."
Schray said she plans to speak about the three big unknowns that loom on the horizon for the graduates.
"After the euphoria of graduation settles a bit, it is normal for graduates to be faced with the daunting NOW WHAT?" she said. "For most of the graduates, three big unknowns loom on the horizon: What will I be doing? With whom will I be sharing my life? Where will I be living? -- of course everyone has to find their own answers to these deeply intimate questions, but my goal is to try to offer some guidance, lay out some basic principles so that our students enter the world as prepared as they can be."
She said she likes the idea of a faculty member speaking at winter commencement.
"I had the privilege of being the keynote speaker at the Freshman Convocation just this past August, during the Week of Welcome, and I actually spoke at the August 2009 Freshman Convocation which means -- if my math is right -- that there is a very good chance that some of the graduating students and I have already shared an important milestone together, which makes this especially exciting for me," Schray said. "One of the best things about Marshall is the investment that faculty make in their students."
Schray previously received the Pickens-Queen Excellence in Teaching Award in 2001and the Reynolds Outstanding Teaching Award in 2009.
Schray said she takes three guiding principles with her into the classroom: 1, learning is a joy; 2, come as you are, and 3, an education really does make a difference.
"I have taught writing in an industry setting, in a homeless shelter, in a convent, and in an impoverished country," Schray said. "In all those settings my students were taking an active step towards improving their lives in a way that nothing else could. I want my students to leave my class with a quiver full of lightning bolts and the confidence to launch them."
Schray earned her Ph.D. in Medieval Literature from the University of North Carolina in 1997. She received her bachelor's degree from La Salle University and her master's from Georgetown University. She is coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Marshall.