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December Commencement 2011: Every number tells a story

by UofL Today last modified Dec 19, 2011 09:53 AM

Commencement coverage easily turns into just a story of numbers: 800 walked. About 1,300 received degrees. It’s fairly statistical – just the facts.

December Commencement 2011: Every number tells a story

Bob and Ann Schrage accepted a posthumous degree in mechanical engineering for their son Andrew who was killed in a freak electrical accident in July. The Schrages have started an engineering scholarship in their son’s name.

Other numbers, however, tell the story better.

For instance: 1.

That’s how many students overcame a rare form of botulism that in fall 2010 caused paralysis and left its victim in a coma. Sport administration master’s graduate Brent Ocker received the Alice Eaves Barns award from the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies for showing tenacity in the face of adversity.

For Ocker, the award he received at the Dec. 16 hooding ceremony recognizes a group effort:

“It is an incredibly humbling honor. Though this is an individual award, my achievement undoubtedly recognizes the sacrifices made for me by many others along the way. I owe an immeasurable amount of gratitude to family, friends, and both the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky for the unwavering support and endless thoughts I received, not only during my hospitalization but prior to and well after. Their inspiring belief and love provided the strength I needed to persevere and continue fighting. To have so many people who care this much about me has been my true award.”

How about 32?

That’s the number of years it has been since Joe Jacoby left UofL 30 hours short of getting his degree to play in the National Football League. People who paid attention to the game in the 1980s and early 1990s will remember that he was part of the Washington Redskins’ famous “hogs” defensive line. He helped the Redskins win three Super Bowls and played in four Pro Bowls.

At the main evening Commencement ceremony Jacoby received his bachelor’s degree in workforce leadership, a program that allowed him to translate his work experience as a post-NFL business owner into college credit and to take classes online so he could continue to work and live at his long-time home in Virginia.

Getting his degree, Jacoby said, is “one of the most meaningful accomplishments” in his life.

And there is 10.

The UofL School of Nursing Owensboro Extension Program graduated its first group of 10 students Friday night. The distance education program started in 2009 to meet the need for a four-year nursing program in western Kentucky and to provide more nurses with baccalaureate degrees in the area.

Add it up: 1 + 32 + 10 + other numbers, and 1,300 isn’t as dry as it first seems.

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