The world awaits FHSU graduates

2017 -commencement -after

By Randy Gonzales
University Relations and Marketing
HAYS, Kan. -- The world awaits Fort Hays State University's 4,075 graduates.

Interim Fort Hays State University President Andy Tompkins wished graduates well at commencement ceremonies Friday and Saturday in Gross Memorial Coliseum. For the first time, more than 4,000 students graduated in a school year.

"I look forward to watching who you will become," Tompkins said to those assembled graduates. "I hope for you to have a successful career. I also hope for you to have a wonderful life."

Tompkins could have been talking about Vincent Griego, a Hays non-traditional student who earned an Associate of Science degree in radiologic technology. Griego, who worked for a year as a corrections officer at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, kept seeing federal job postings for radiologic technicians. Griego said he enrolled at Fort Hays State because it was a military-friendly institution. Once he completes his certification Griego, who grew up in Colby, will look for a federal job in his new career field in the Colorado Springs area.

"When I decided I didn't want to be a prison guard any more, I decided this was a good field to get into," Griego said.

Tompkins could have been talking about Kathryn Jones of Dodge City, who completed her master's degree in the transition to teaching program in the College of Education. Jones, who already is an English teacher at Dodge City High School, took her classes at FHSU online.

Mary Davis, Kathryn's mother, and her father, Dan Jones, were surprised at first when their daughter opted to teach; they thought she was more interested in a career as a foreign services officer. But Kathryn taught English for a year and a half in Russia and got a job in Dodge City when she returned.

"We never thought she would go into teaching," Kathryn's mother said.

His daughter chose to get her master's degree at FHSU "because of the quality of the online program," Dan Jones said.

Tompkins could have been talking about Hays native Austin Knoll, who graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in accounting. Knoll is engaged to Teneille Whitham, a nursing major on track to graduate in December; a November wedding is planned.

By then, Knoll will have embarked on his career; he starts work in September in Denver for Ernst & Young Accountants as an auditor on the assurance staff. Knoll, a nominee for the Torch Award, which recognizes an outstanding senior each year, was a member of Alpha Kappa Psi, a professional business fraternity.

Knoll said FHSU prepared him well for the future. He added that the mock interview process played a key role in landing one of three internships as well as giving him an edge for his first job.

"Mock interview days on campus are essential," Knoll said.

Through the mock interview process, Knoll learned how to dress and what to say during an interview.

"Once you get in the interview room, that's what will make you or break you -- if they like you or not," Knoll said.

Knoll didn't know what he liked his freshman year, in the fall of 2013 after graduating from Hays High School. He took an aptitude test at FHSU's Academic Advising and Career Exploration Center and found a career in either political science or accounting would suit him best.

"I took my first accounting course; I passed with flying colors," Knoll said. "I decided that's where I should be. I'd never been a straight A student. When I took that first accounting course, everything clicked right off the bat."

Knoll already knew Jessica Heronemus, an accounting instructor who became his advisor. The faculty members are what make the difference, Knoll said.

"I think it's the teachers," he said. "They will help you out. They want you to succeed."

Knoll, the son of Denis and Mia Knoll, is a first-generation college graduate in his family.

I'm very excited," Knoll said. "It's just a relief that it's finally done. Nobody can take that away from you."

A world of promise and success awaits Austin Knoll. And Vincent Griego. And Kathryn Jones. And all the other FHSU graduates.

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