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maj. gen. thompson stands addresses the fall 2023 osu graduates

OSU celebrates 147th commencement

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Media Contact: Sydney Trainor | Communications Specialist | 405-744-9782 |

Oklahoma State University alumnus Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson returned to his alma mater Saturday to speak at OSU’s fall 2023 commencement ceremonies inside Gallagher-Iba Arena. 

The Army veteran imparted his journey to success with more than 1,300 graduates. He attributed his ascent to the high point of his career to diligent labor and selfless volunteering for the roles that others were hesitant to undertake. 

Thompson, an esteemed and decorated service member, began his distinguished military career with the Oklahoma National Guard in 1983. In 2017, he rose to the position of adjutant general, assuming the role of the primary military advisor to the governor where he commanded both the Oklahoma Army and Air National Guard until November 2021. 

“Service, sacrifice, being assertive and willing to sacrifice for this country is what makes you a patriot,” Thompson said. 

OSU President Kayse Shrum presided over OSU’s 147th commencement and was joined at the lectern with Thompson; Dr. Brandt Gardner, OSU faculty chair; Joe Hall, OSU A&M Board of Regents chair; and Ashley Peterson, Student Government Association president. 

“As you now prepare to leave OSU and take that next step, allow me to offer just one suggestion,” Gardner said. “Whatever you end up doing in your life, whatever you may think of your circumstances, or your standing in our society, compared to the rest of the world, you are very fortunate. Some might even say wealthy because of who you are.  

“Because of this degree that you are about to receive, you will find yourself in a position to lift others. You will interact with people who have fewer opportunities, fewer resources and more challenges. I encourage you to look for opportunities in every situation, to extend and offer encouragement, and to show support. Leave each person better than you found them.” 

Thompson challenged students to look to the future and the Cowboy Code to strive to become servant-leaders.  

“I'm going to ask you to be a servant. And [Gardner] alluded to it, go out and serve others, serve folks that are less fortunate than you,” Thompson said. 

He urged students to dedicate time to activities that enrich their lives beyond their professional endeavors, aiming to improve their overall quality of life. Additionally, he emphasized the importance of embracing mistakes and not fearing them. Addressing the graduates, he conveyed that despite their generation being sometimes unfairly criticized, now is the opportune moment for them to reshape the perception and overcome any stigma associated with it. 

“What's stopping you and your cohort of graduates from this university from one day being regarded as the greatest generation?” Thompson said. 

“I'll answer that for you. Nothing.” 

Landri Chaplin arrived at GIA early Saturday morning and found a seat in the front row. It was a moment she could only describe as surreal.  

The Weatherford, Oklahoma, native earned her degree in agricultural communications from the Ferguson College of Agriculture.  

“When the bagpipe started to come in, and when it was time to stand up, and I saw my professors, it hit me, like this is really happening,” Chaplin said. “I just feel very honored to have gone to school here. I was just sitting there thinking that I'm proud to be a graduate of Oklahoma State and I'm thankful that I chose to go to OSU.”  

A Yale, Oklahoma, native, Micah McCombs, earned his degree in electrical engineering from the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology, He is looking forward to what opportunities lie ahead but said he will miss his time in Stillwater. 

“I’m going to miss doing all the work and putting in all the effort to get to this day,” McCombs said.  

During the graduate ceremony on Friday, Dr. Shrum also bestowed an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts upon Wanda Jackson, a member of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame who made a name for herself as a singer/songwriter known for her unique style that blends rockabilly, country and rock 'n' roll. Jackson is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Rockabilly Hall of Fame.  

Spears School of Business Dean Jim Payne posthumously honored online MBA student Aimee Cardoso by presenting her parents, Karyn and Jeff Brownlee, with her diploma.  

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

All commencement ceremony videos can be found on 

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