Congratulations, Racers. As soon-to-be graduates of the Murray State University Class of 2018, you'll be joining 70,000 active Murray State University alumni throughout the world. You've put in the hard work and now it's time to shine.
#RacerGraduation is a journey and deserves to be recognized. As we look towards May commencement, we're proud to share your stories.
Austin Desjardins, Senior Music Major from Upton, KY
#RacerGraduation is a ‘roller coaster’ of emotions for Murray State student
Allie-Kate Wiles will soon cross the stage of the CFSB Center, shake Murray State University President Bob Davies’ hand and earn her degree. It is the moment Wiles has been waiting for.
“Looking back on all that it has taken me to get to this point is amazing — talk about a roller coaster of emotions,” Wiles said. “College graduation is an accomplishment for anyone, so I would say this is a pretty big milestone.”
Wiles is from Paris, Tennessee, and will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Integrated Studies in Health and Exercise Science. When she began her college journey, she started her undergraduate study at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Ultimately deciding she wanted to be closer to home, Wiles transferred to Murray State and began commuting to the University from Paris.
She has not looked back since.
“I knew Murray State would be the perfect fit for me,” Wiles said. “Murray State has developed me into a stronger individual mentally. The college experience and relationships you make will impact your life forever.”
When it came time to select her degree field, Wiles recalled the feeling that a career in medicine and health care was inevitable. As a student athlete throughout high school, Wiles experienced a number of injuries, including a torn ACL. Twice. After working with doctors and physical therapists through the various surgeries and recovery periods, Wiles found her calling.
“I think after going through that along with other struggles in my life, I just want to show someone that you can make a difference in your own life if you put in the work,” Wiles said.
Now, prior to her May graduation, Wiles works in the emergency room at Murray-Calloway County Hospital. She is also pursuing a physical therapy assistant program at West Kentucky Community and Technical College in addition to the bachelor’s degree she will graduate with from Murray State.
Looking back on the last few years, Wiles’ time at Murray State is filled with memories that will stick with her long after she turns her tassel. Those memories range from sliding down hills in the snow outside the Curris Center and completing a 50-page research paper about chronic traumatic encephalopathy to participating in field trips for classes with Dr. Miranda Terry, assistant professor in the department of applied health sciences and director of the public and community health program. Since transferring to Murray State, Wiles has also found that, above all else, the University is a community.
“I love the atmosphere on campus. The Wellness Center is always full of people, everyone comes to the basketball games and baseball games are fun to watch when the weather is nice,” Wiles said. “And everywhere I go in this town, I see someone with a Murray State t-shirt on. Having that support in the community makes such a huge difference in so many aspects.”
For future Murray State students, Wiles advises them to cherish their time at the University: “Happiness is a journey,” she said, “not a destination.”
Benjamin Estes, Senior Environmental Geology Major
Grateful for every moment: International graduate student prepares for #RacerGraduation
Graduate student Dilmurod Ikromov admits that the future will likely present both expected and unexpected opportunities in life. And Ikromov, an international student from Uzbekistan, believes his degree from Murray State University has prepared him well for both extremes.
“The classes I took and the activities I was involved in provided me with the necessary tools to be successful in my future endeavors,” Ikromov said. “I am a firm believer in the power of education.”
Ikromov will receive his master’s degree in human development and leadership as part of the May 12 graduate and doctoral commencement ceremony at the CFSB Center.
He is quick to credit the impact of being involved in numerous group projects, a common component of the academic experience, as an element of his preparation for achieving his future goals. In fact, being involved in group work brought Ikromov a great deal of enjoyment and personal growth.
“They [group projects] helped me to enhance my critical thinking, decision making and problem solving abilities,” Ikromov said. “Participation in such group projects allowed me to elevate my communications skills to such a level that I never thought I would be able to. I enjoyed being a part of such diverse groups where each and every member brought different points of views to the table, where we learned what it means to be socially and emotionally intelligent leaders and followers.”
Being many miles away from home, family and familiarity can present initial challenges and anxiety. However, for Ikromov, the ability to slowly yet confidently become more independent during his journey as a Racer was a pivotal part of the experience.
“One of my accomplishments at Murray State that makes me very proud is the fact that I grew into the fully independent person I am today like never before,” Ikromov said. “There is nothing wrong with relying on your family members, relatives and friends but minimizing your reliance on them in every way possible is, to my mind, a sign of maturity.”
“Now that I am about to graduate,” Ikromov continued, “I am extremely excited about what the future holds for me, ready for applying my newly-found knowledge to benefit people around me and very grateful for every moment I spent at Murray State University.”
Brandon Nolan, Senior Biology/Pre-Med Major from Evansville, Indiana
‘I came, I saw, I conquered’: Jocelyn Rhymes reflects on time at Murray State as #RacerGraduation nears
Soon-to-be graduate Jocelyn Rhymes is feeling a little bit of every emotion that is to be expected as the end of her journey at Murray State University nears.
“Knowing that graduation is approaching has me feeling somewhere between overwhelmed, relieved and excited,” Rhymes says. “Knowing that these four years are coming to an end is very relieving, but knowing that I am about to jump into the real world is very overwhelming.”
Rhymes, a senior from Memphis, Tennessee, is a student in the Emerging Scholars Institute through the University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs and will graduate from Murray State in May with a degree in communication disorders.
Her campus involvement is deep and worthy of recognition. It includes serving as a Great Beginnings leader, Summer Orientation counselor, Black Student Council parliamentarian and Campus Activities Board member. She also serves as the current chapter president for the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
There has been a true purpose in each of these activities and commitments for Rhymes, serving as critical steps along the road of her Racer journey and providing opportunities for self-discovery.
“All of these experiences have sparked different interests in me,” Rhymes says . “They have allowed me to use my influence for positivity, and they have allowed me to share my story and enjoy myself while doing it.”
Rhymes, a first-generation graduate in her family, changed her major entering her junior year but will still graduate within four years of having started her time at Murray State.
When Rhymes walks across the stage as part of the May 12 undergraduate commencement ceremony and officially becomes a Murray State alumna, she will share the achievement with her family and friends.
But, in addition to this, she hopes the achievement serves as an inspiration for future Racers who strive for the same life-altering accomplishment in the future.
“I always believed that I was getting this degree for me, but in this past year, I have realized that it is for all of those people who don’t believe they can,” Rhymes says. “This is a milestone that means I can push through and keep going. It means that I have accomplished a piece of a bigger picture.”
Rhymes perhaps says it best when asked to summarize her feelings with graduation approaching so quickly: “Most importantly, knowing that I came, I saw and I conquered is the most exciting and rewarding part.”
Reflections on family before #RacerGraduation at Murray State
For Rachel Brown, family is everything. And at Murray State University, the middle school education major from Newburgh, Indiana, found just that: a second family that merged perfectly with the first.
“Murray State radiated friendliness, and I couldn’t see myself going anywhere else,” Brown recalled thinking after her first campus tour. “Family is something that is extremely close to my heart, and I could find myself finding a second home here.”
It is for that reason that Family Weekend is among her favorite University traditions. Each fall semester, her family would pay a visit to campus for the annual event: eating together at the family picnic, touring the campus and cheering on the Racer football team in the evening.
“It is such a refreshing time for me because of how close my family is,” Brown said. “I always looked forward to showing them a snapshot of my life at college and sharing that with them.”
Family Weekend also offered a number of memories and stories for the family to reflect back on. In fact, during one of those Family Weekend visits, Brown’s older sister wore a t-shirt representing another university. When they ultimately crossed paths with Murray State President Bob Davies in the Curris Center, Davies decided to do something about the shirt. He walked into the University Bookstore, purchased a Murray State t-shirt and handed it over to Brown’s sister. It was a moment that stuck with the family.
“This will always be one of my favorite traditions at Murray State,” Brown said.
Murray State was also an opportunity for Brown to push herself and test her limits — to go outside her comfort zone and do things she had never imagined before.
That journey began with Racer 101 and Great Beginnings.
“Not only did these functions help me transition into my life at college, but they also introduced me to many wonderful friends,” Brown said. “I would later go on to become a Racer 101 counselor and Great Beginnings leader myself in 2016. Being the older student and welcoming the incoming freshmen gave me a fresh perspective.”
Over the course of her four years at the University, Brown participated in a number of activities and organizations, ranging from the Murray State Middle Level Association and Baptist Campus Ministries to Sock n’ Buskin and Alpha Upsilon Alpha. She was part of five theatre productions, performed in All Campus Sing and worked in the University’s Graduation Office. She also pursued education abroad opportunities in London and Dublin.
“Through all these different activities and organizations, I have found a home in Murray State and have been blessed to meet an abundance of amazing people that will forever be a second family to me,” Brown said. “The opportunities for involvement are endless and the surrounding community supports the students. Murray truly is a home away from home. And, if you let it, it will change your life.”
Now, on the cusp of graduation, Brown said she feels ready for what the future holds for her — a credit to her professors, she added. Whether it was her extended practicum with Dr. Miguel Gomez and her reading classes with Rhonda Roberts or economics and astronomy with Todd Broker and Dr. Joshua Ridley, respectively, Brown witnessed an enthusiasm for the subjects at hand that was contagious.
“The biggest reason these were some of the best classes I took here at Murray State was because the professors loved teaching so much that they made me love learning,” Brown said.
A few months after Brown crosses the stage during the commencement ceremony, she and her husband Cameron will depart for Orlando, Florida, to spend six months in the Disney College Program. Upon their return, Cameron, who also graduates from Murray State in May, will begin attending medical school, while Brown will begin substitute teaching before finding a permanent job in fall 2019.
“Being a student here at Murray State has helped me mature in more ways than I could talk about,” Brown said. “I have been exposed to many different viewpoints and perspectives on lives that have helped me shape and better understand my own world view. And, most importantly, I have learned to take my life day by day but also to live it to the fullest.”
Reflecting on the 'tools to succeed" before #RacerGraduation
Like many graduating seniors, Liberty Moore is experiencing a variety of emotions as commencement day at Murray State University approaches.
“Seeing this time come to an end is bittersweet,” Moore said. “This milestone means more to me than anyone will ever know. I have fought so hard to accomplish my goals and it seems surreal to see part of the journey coming to an end.”
Moore, an Eddyville resident, began attending Murray State in 2016 after earning her associate degree from West Kentucky Community and Technical College. She will graduate from Murray State in May 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in communication disorders before continuing her education with a master’s degree in speech-language pathology from the University.
“Murray State has prepared me by setting the bar high and giving me the tools to succeed,” Moore said. “My professors have shown the great love and dedication they have for the field of speech-language pathology, and they have instilled that into their students. That love and dedication will carry me forward through graduate school and into my future career.”
Moore initially made the decision to attend Murray State for a number of reasons. The first was that she knew of the University’s reputation in her chosen field. She had also heard good things from her aunt and cousin — both former Murray State students. The most important reason, though, was that at Murray State Moore could attend a high-quality university without uprooting her two young children.
“Even though I am married, a mother of two and have to commute each day, I have met my academic and personal goals,” Moore said. “I did not let anything hold me back from succeeding and that is something I can always be proud of. The work ethic it took is something I can pass on to my children.”
While at Murray State, Moore has been an active presence in the Center for Communication Disorders. As a member of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA), Moore forged lasting connections with professors, colleagues and professionals in the field. She also represented the University and her department at conferences and events for the Kentucky Speech-Language Hearing Association (KSHA). One such experience involved speaking with legislators in Frankfort about the recent pension bill during a KSHA advocacy event.
Now, as Moore concludes her final semester as an undergraduate student, she looks forward to what the future holds: pursuing her master’s degree in the University’s speech-language pathology program. From there, she plans to see where life leads her.
“What truly sets Murray State apart from other colleges is that Murray State is not just a university — it’s a community,” Moore said. “The advice I would give to future Racers is: don’t give up on your dreams and never say can’t because you can.”
Law School bound senior credits Murray State as more than a stepping stone before #RacerGraduation
Samuel Hoffman, a soon-to-be Racer alumnus, said after visiting the campus and meeting with professors and administration, his decision to attend Murray State University was a “no brainer.”
“My parents both attended Murray State and met here,” Hoffman said. “It was always the preferred option for me, even after moving around the country several years in middle school and high school.”
Hoffman, a senior from Louisville, will walk across the stage during graduation May 12 to receive his bachelor’s degree as a double major in history and sociology before pursuing his legal education in the fall.
“My experiences with history taught me how to read and write critically and develop arguments based on that analysis, while sociology provided an opportunity to engage with data-grounded research and theory to produce more concise, scientific and brief written works,” Hoffman said. “Both of these types of writing are critical to success in law, and I have my professors to thank for learning these skills.”
While Hoffman has been very involved academically, he has also been active among campus organizations. His primary involvement includes being a part of the Model United Nations team. Within the last three years, he has travelled to international conferences in New York City and Charlotte, North Carolina, where the team won major individual and delegation awards, which account for some of his most cherished accomplishments as a Murray State student.
“My time with the Model United Nations team and the team’s accomplishments are what I am most proud of,” Hoffman said. “Coming home from New York with individual and team awards from a conference with thousands of students from dozens of countries was a once-in-a-lifetime feeling.”
He also was selected to be one of 16 participants to compete in the 37th annual Mr. Murray State University Pageant.
“Competing in this year’s Mr. MSU was one of the highlights of my experience here at Murray,” Hoffman said. “Standing on the stage of our historic Lovett Auditorium where so many famous artists and important figures have visited was something I’ll never forget.”
Throughout his time at Murray State, Hoffman was also employed in the University’s Oral Communication Center as an undergraduate consultant and said watching the improvements within other students’ public speaking confidence has been an amazing opportunity afforded to him by Murray State.
“This school has so much to offer, and I would urge future students to look for any chance to get involved. They won’t regret it,” Hoffman said. “I haven’t heard of anywhere else where you’re likely to see and shake hands with the school’s president on a daily basis on your way to class.”
Hoffman said Murray State’s sense of community, along with its passion for investing in students, sets the University apart from others. He also reflected on professors and classes that made his time at Murray State an impactful one.
“Dr. Kang, my Model United Nations advisor, is my favorite professor and mentor,” Hoffman said. “Over three years with the team, he has helped me to gain confidence in my public speaking and interpersonal skills and provided me with the connections and advice that have helped me gain admission to law school. Outside of family, he has been one of my strongest supporters, and I would not be anywhere without him.”
The student said his interest in pursuing a legal education was sparked by those around him and the stories he read about famous attorneys that used their skills and positions to provide crucial help to people that need it most.
“My grandfather was a highly successful attorney for decades and his example inspired me to follow in his footsteps and become a lawyer,” Hoffman said. “His devotion to clients and their well-being — not only financially and within the confines of casework but also his tireless efforts to pursue meaningful solutions and outcomes as well as his selflessness — are all inspirations to me as I begin the first steps of my legal career.”
Hoffman plans to begin attending the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law in the fall, adding that earning a degree was crucial to achieving his goals.
With less than a month before taking that long walk across the graduation stage, Hoffman said he wishes time would slow down. He plans to make the most of his remaining time as a student.
When asked what advice he would give to future generations of Murray State students he said, “I would encourage incoming students to take advantage of every opportunity given to them by the University community.”