FAIRBORN — It is the time of year that Wright State University is usually set to celebrate with graduating students. While the graduates of spring 2020 have had their official celebration put on hold due to COVID-19, Wright State will recognize their many achievements as they have completed their degree requirements.
More than 2,100 Wright State students have completed the requirements for graduation. The spring class of 2020 includes graduates who will receive 1,490 bachelor’s degrees, 576 master’s degrees, 25 doctoral degrees and 29 associate degrees.
The class features 122 international students from 27 different countries. India boasts the largest number of foreign graduates, with 47.
The two youngest graduating students are 18. One is earning a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology and the other an associate degree in technical study. The oldest graduate is 72, earning a master’s degree in earth sciences.
Graduates by college:
College of Liberal Arts: 415
College of Engineering and Computer Science: 347
Raj Soin College of Business: 345
College of Science and Mathematics: 324
College of Education and Human Services: 304
College of Nursing and Health: 200
Lake Campus: 153
Noteable 2020 graduates
Syeda Bahar, who is from Bangladesh, will receive her master’s degree in public administration and carries a 4.0 grade point average. She served as chief operating officer of the President’s Ambassadors Program at Wright State and fundraising director of the university chapter of the Golden Key International Honor Society, which recognizes academic achievement among undergrad and graduate students.
Bahar has worked as an intern at Premier Health’s Help Me Grow Brighter Futures, a nonprofit that provides home visiting services to educate, support and advocate for healthy births, child development, strong family units, economic self-sufficiency and school readiness. She worked on a research project designed to improve public health policy and ensure an equal health outcome for the community. Her project goal was to identify and develop strategies on how to address health disparities, including preterm birth and infant mortality among African Americans.
Bahar received a travel grant to attend the 2019 Asia-Pacific Leadership Summit in Adelaide, Australia, representing Wright State, the United States and Bangladesh on the international stage. At the summit, she participated in sessions on diversity and inclusion as well as cultural sensitivity.
Bahar secured a graduate research assistantship position among a competitive group of applicants, won the prestigious American Public Works Association’s Graduate Scholarship and the W.D. Heisel Memorial Scholarship. She also received the College of Liberal Arts Leadership Scholarship.
Bahar also landed an internship with East End Community Services, where she helped conduct research and data analysis for substance abuse and adverse childhood experiences. She also assisted in enlisting the vacant properties in the neighborhood for infrastructural development as well as created a strategic plan for reallocation of vacant properties.
After graduation, Bahar wants to join public service in the areas of public health policy, urban planning and the relation of local government to nonprofits. Her long-term career goal is to return to her native Bangladesh and work to improve the government system.
Jacquelyn Smith, who is from Youngstown, will receive her bachelor’s degree in computer science with minors in mathematics and statistics. She also has a certificate in cybersecurity analytics.
During her time at Wright State, Smith received two leadership awards, was a track and field athlete for three years, and interned with the U.S. Air Force and with the FBI in the agency’s Cleveland office.
She served as president and treasurer of Wright State’s Society of Women Engineers and president, vice president and international project lead of Engineers Without Borders, a community service group that helped build a rain-collection system to irrigate a community garden in Trotwood and helped create a wetlands observation deck in Fairborn. The group also twice traveled to the African nation of Uganda on a sanitation project for a school there.
Smith was also a foster and co-handler with 4 Paws for Ability, which trains service dogs for people with disabilities.
After graduation, Smith will work as a software engineer at Altamira Technologies Corp., a software-designing defense contractor headquartered in McLean, Virginia, outside Washington, D.C.
Blake Hale grew up in Columbus and moved to southern California to finish high school, graduating from Servite High School in Anaheim in 2016. He turned down opportunities from the Air Force Academy, Fordham University and several other schools to come to Wright State on a golf scholarship.
Hale emerged as one of the leaders on the golf team, which this year won its first Horizon League championship in 15 years and played in the NCAA tournament.
“I was focused on helping everybody get better off the course,” he said. (Hale once caddied for a golfer in a group that included actor Tom Cruise at the Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles.)
Hale carries a grade point average of 3.746. He will receive a bachelor’s degree in accountancy and marketing.
“For me, accounting was the base for all business because I knew I wanted to be in business,” he said. “In terms of just the raw background, accounting gives you the best fundamentals for business.”
After graduation, he will attend law school at the University of Notre Dame. He is interested in working as in-house counsel for a business.
Hale is grateful for the education he received at Wright State as a student-athlete.
“All of the professors are so willing to work with you,” he said. “I don’t think I would have gotten that at a lot of other schools.”