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Ree Drummond, the "Pioneer Woman," speaks at Oklahoma State University's spring 2022 commencement on Saturday inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.

‘Pioneer Woman’ Drummond gives advice to OSU Class of 2022 at spring commencement

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Media Contact: Jordan Bishop | Editor, Department of Brand Management | 405-744-7193 | jordan.bishop@okstate.edu

The newest Oklahoma State University graduating class was treated to an encouraging address from celebrity Ree Drummond, the “Pioneer Woman,” at Saturday’s spring commencement ceremonies inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.

OSU President Kayse Shrum presided over commencement as more than 3,400 undergraduate and graduate students walked across the stage for OSU’s 144th graduation.

Drummond — a famed author, TV personality, cooking icon and renowned businesswoman — was the keynote speaker at all four undergraduate ceremonies, imparting wisdom and advice that she has learned throughout her career.

Despite not being an OSU alumna, Drummond joked that since her parents both graduated from OSU — as well as her husband, Ladd’s parents — that her blood was as orange as her hair.

“I have never spoken at a graduation before,” said Drummond, whose own college graduation was 30 years ago at the University of Southern California. “Thank you for letting me try it out on you guys. Thank you to Dr. Shrum and the entire OSU faculty for letting me be a part of this incredible day.”

Drummond read graduates a list of things she wished she had known at her own graduation: 

  1. Always be ready to say yes, but don’t be afraid to say no.
  2. Let your passion drive you and love what you do, but don’t expect it to always tickle.
  3. Stick to your guns and stand up for what you believe in, but know you will change and evolve throughout your life.
  4. Speak up and let your voice be heard, but also be willing to listen and understand.
  5. Believe in yourself and be proud of what you accomplish, but stay humble, too.

“The last item on my list is to buckle up, you have good times and rough seas ahead,” Drummond said. “It is just part of life, but enjoy the ride and laugh a lot. In many ways, you guys are several steps ahead of my generation when we were in your shoes. Just look at what you have gone through over the past two years — a global pandemic that interrupted everything — but you made it.”

Drummond — who grew up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and has made her home of Pawhuska, Oklahoma, famous on her Food Network show — congratulated the graduates on their new chapter in life and warned them there would be hard times, but to persevere.

“Life is about to unfold for all of you in all of its forms: love, heartache, accomplishments, disappointments, new friendships, lost relationships, babies maybe, testing of faith, development of faith, illness, injury, loss of loved ones, triumph, tragedy and tears,” Drummond said. “I could check a lot of those off my list, but enjoy it, life is beautiful. Buckle up and laugh along the way.”

One graduate who embodied Drummond’s message of life having twists and turns was James Hinkel. The native of Watts, Oklahoma, started attending OSU back in 2001 but left in 2006 without earning his degree. Two years ago, he came back and Saturday, he received his diploma.

“It was awesome. It was everything I expected. It has been a long time coming for me. … Life happens,” said Hinkel, who earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural leadership and plans to continue using it in his career as a superintendent at McKee Foods.

For Jordan Baze, also an agricultural leadership graduate, she was excited to see Shrum and Drummond at the lectern. It was Dr. Shrum’s first spring commencement and second overall graduation ceremony since she took over as OSU’s first female president in July 2021.

“Just getting to see Dr. Shrum on stage was so empowering,” said Baze, a native of Noble, Oklahoma. “I am so glad we have a female president now.”

Oklahoma State University President Kayse Shrum speaks to the crowd at spring 2022 commencement on Saturday.

Also speaking were Dr. Trudy Milner, chair of the OSU/A&M Board of Regents, Dr. Pamela Lovern, chair of OSU’s Faculty Council, and Jack Edwards, the graduating Student Government Association president.

Milner welcomed all the graduates into their new role as OSU alumni and the responsibilities it comes with.

“For many of us, our time at OSU played a critical role in the development of successful careers and lives well lived,” Milner said. “Many other factors will determine how you serve, live and work. But on this occasion, we recognize just how important OSU is to all of us. … Graduates of Oklahoma State University, may you enhance its name through your continued academic pursuits, your career and service to the greater good.”

Saturday morning’s exercises recognized students from the Ferguson College of Agriculture and the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology. The afternoon consisted of ceremonies for the Spears School of Business, the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education and Human Sciences. 

Graduate students and the College of Veterinary Medicine had their ceremonies Friday. OSU-IT had its ceremony on April 22. OSU-Tulsa will hold its commencement ceremony on Monday, OSU-Oklahoma City will hold its graduation on May 13 and the OSU Center for Health Sciences will celebrate its graduates on May 14.

All commencement ceremony videos can be found on insideosu.com.

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