Jon Hofmeister was a student at Kansas State University when astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon and famously state, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Inside Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday morning, Hofmeister — a 1971 KSU graduate and founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy — paraphrased Armstrong’s quote and applied it to the lives of graduates of the university’s College of Arts and Sciences.
“Because today’s graduation is one small act for Kansas State University,” Hofmeister said. “After all, the university is graduating thousands of students today. But for each and every one of you, this is a giant accomplishment — an accomplishment that will stay with you for your entire life.”
The College of Arts and Sciences was the first of the day’s commencement ceremonies.
As “Pomp and Circumstance” played, the degree-earners filed in, many of them smiling and returning waves to family members and friends.
Some of the audience members let loose loud, echoing cheers as they picked their loved ones out of the steady stream of graduates emerging from behind the curtain blocking off part of the stadium.
In total, KSU awarded more than 2,550 bachelor’s degrees this semester. Most of those degree earners participated in commencement ceremonies on Saturday. The university also awarded 676 master’s degrees, 118 doctoral degrees, 100 doctor of veterinary medicine degrees and almost 30 associate’s degrees.
Hofmeister told the arts and sciences graduates that their degrees represented a significant imprint on their résumés, which show what they and the university have done together that has made them who they are today.
“The memories of these experiences and lessons will keep developing wherever you go next,” he said. “It takes you throughout your life.”
Hofmeister said although the graduates soon will be alumni, their time spent at KSU has taught them how to maintain a proper “flow” in life.
“You learned it here,” he said. “Even if you didn’t know what to call it, that flow which you experienced through your university life enabled you to run the race and to get to the end today.”
“That flow swept into you the first day you showed up on this campus and said, ‘Oh my gosh, what have I gotten myself into?’” he said. “It got you to the dining hall, to the library, to Aggieville, it got you to class every day and it led you to this degree.”
Hofmeister recommended the graduates reflect on how the flow affected them.
“Kansas State is alive with flow,” he said. “You see the thousands of students, the faculty, the administration. Remember that model in your mind, because when things turn difficult — and they will — remind yourself of the days that you were part of that flowing movement of students across the campus. It will come back to refresh and reinforce you.”
But Hofmeister encouraged the graduates to take in the moment, which he said will forever be part of how their lives are shaped.
“Once today’s over, you will never forget it,” he said.
“Your giant step today is the next step of the rest of your life.”