News Story

More than 3,200 students walk across KSU’s stage

May 10, 2017

Marietta Daily Journal

More than 3,200 new Kennesaw State University graduates can now call KSU their “owl-ma mater,” said this year’s KSU Foundation Distinguished University Professor, Divesh Sharma.

KSU is awarding its studentstheir degrees Tuesday and today during five commencement ceremonies.

Sharma, an accounting professor in KSU’s Coles College of Business, delivered the spring’s first commencement speech Tuesday morning.

Sharma shared his personal story to show the recent graduates how important it is for them to have gumption — the willpower and belief in themselves to succeed.

Growing up in a family of sugar cane farmers in a rural village in Fiji, Sharma was the first in his family to graduate from high school.

His parents forced him to go to college in New Zealand, where he could not understand his teachers and fellow students’ accents, Sharma said. He struggled in the classroom because of the language barrier.

“I felt dumb, really dumb … I had a one-way ticket, and it was used-up,” Sharmasaid. And so he had to choose between giving up and working to overcome challenges. Sharma said he chose to work hard. Over the years, he has earned a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate.

“If I, a village boy with nothing but gumption and belief, can make it in life, so can you,” he said Tuesdaymorning. Sharma called upon the recent graduates to believe, be different and strive forexcellence. “There is no growth in a comfort zone. There is no comfort in a growth zone,” he said to a round of applause from the audience.

Following Sharma’s speech, KSU President Sam Olens said many KSU students are the first in their families to graduate from college, and a good many graduates have workedmultiple jobs to make it to graduation — just like Sharma had to do.

“That is both your story and their story. That really is the special fabric of our university,” Olens said, adding, “Congratulations on a job very well done.”

Sharma’s excitement for the graduates resulted in him shouting their exaltations and possibilities for the future during his commencement speech. His passion garnered laughs and rounds of applause from the audience Tuesday morning.

Friends and families of KSU graduates filled the KSU Convocation Center Tuesday morning during the ceremony honoring graduates from the Coles College of Business and the School of Communication and Media.

Sharma told the recent graduates their familieshave invested in them and will continue to support the recent graduates, even if just emotionally.

“Graduates, do you know why (your parents) are here? They want to verify that you are graduating, so they can stop those tuition checks,”he joked as parents chuckled in the audience.

More than 35,000 students are enrolled at KSU, making it the third largest university in Georgia behind Georgia State University and the University of Georgia.

Kennesaw State University professor Divesh Sharma deliversthe commencement address during KSU’s first graduation ceremony of the spring Tuesday morning.