Class of 2017 First to Graduate from OSU—Cascades Bend Campus


At its 16th Commencement on Saturday, June 17, Oregon State University – Cascades will honor the first class to graduate from the newly opened campus in Bend.  The class of 334 students is the second largest graduating class in OSU-Cascade’s 16-year history.

Campus officials anticipate that more than 2,000 family and friends of graduates will attend the ceremonies at the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend.  Nearly 275 students plan to participate in the ceremonies.

In total, OSU-Cascades will have awarded more than 3,400 degrees since it was established in 2001.

The commencement event will begin at 12pm.  OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson will preside over the ceremonies.

Chris Van Dyke, a former Oregon district attorney and former Nike global brand management executive, will provide the commencement address. Van Dyke has more than 30 years of experience building and leading teams in the private, public and non-profit sectors. He began his career as an attorney, eventually serving as district attorney for Marion County in Oregon before joining Nike, initially as corporate counsel. His experience at Nike launched a more than 20-year career in outdoor product branding and marketing.

In addition to Johnson and Van Dyke, members of the platform party include Susan Capalbo, senior vice provost for academic affairs at OSU who will represent OSU Provost Ed Feser; Oran Teater, chair of the OSU-Cascades Advisory and Advocacy Board; Julie Gess-Newsome, dean of academic programs at OSU-Cascades; and members of the faculty.

During the commencement event, Johnson will present the OSU-Cascades Distinguished Service Award, an award created to honor individuals, businesses or organizations that have made exceptional contributions to OSU-Cascades, Central Oregon, the State of Oregon or the world.

She will present the award to Rod Ray, former chief executive and president of Bend Research, Inc. Ray is also a member of the OSU-Cascades Advisory and Advocacy Board.

The commencement ceremony will include a presentation by OSU-Cascades candidate for graduation, Kayla Weaver, a single mother and American studies major from Madras.  Student body president Molly Svendsen, a biology major, will also present to the graduation class.

Some facts and figures about OSU-Cascades’ Class of 2017:

-Of the 334 graduates, bachelor’s degrees will be awarded to 254 and master’s degrees will be awarded to 78

-74 percent of the graduates are from Central Oregon.  In addition, 20 of Oregon’s 36 counties are represented.  Graduates represent 12 other U.S. states

-The average age of the graduating class is 30; the oldest is 62 and the youngest is 20

-The graduating class includes eight veterans of U.S. military service

-Four candidates for graduation were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society. About 10 percent of each university institution’s arts and sciences graduates are invited to join each year

-Eleven candidates for graduation were inducted into Phi Kappa Phi, a scholastic honor society. Inductees are seniors who are nominated by faculty and graduate students who show special ability and are in the top 10 percent of their respective classes

OSU-Cascades’ graduating seniors are securing employment or graduate school admittance in their fields, particularly graduates of the engineering systems engineering and computer science degrees:

-The energy systems engineering degree program, which graduated its first students in 2013, has a 94 percent job placement rate to date.  Of the 28 graduates in the class of 2017, 19 have job placements.

-The computer science program, which launched in 2013, graduates its second class this year.  Each of this year’s graduating students, a cohort of seven, has been offered a job or accepted a position in the technology field within a company in Bend.

Each OSU-Cascades student has a compelling story, including:

Rita Schenkelberg moved to Bend from Colorado to pursue a master’s in counseling. She honed her therapy skills in OSU-Cascades’ on-site community counseling clinic.  A social justice advocate, Rita volunteers in the community, including for the annual Central Oregon Pride event. Rita will work with Northwest Youth Discovery, a residential treatment program in Bend for teen girls.

Alaina Hawley, an energy systems engineering major and an OSU Honors College student, graduates with the highest GPA in the engineering program this year. She was president of the campus Association of Energy Engineers, worked on-campus promoting sustainable transportation, and mentored younger ESE students. After graduation, she will work for the Platt River Power Authority in Fort Collins, Colorado.

After earning her first undergraduate degree, Carli Godard realized she wanted to spend her life outdoors and enrolled in the tourism and outdoor leadership at OSU-Cascades. She completed her coursework in fall term and is working as an instructor for Voyageur Outward Bound in Minnesota. Carli helps students of all ages and backgrounds gain confidence and leadership skills through wilderness expeditions.

To learn more about the OSU-Cascades Commencement Ceremony, visit


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