Another class graduates

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette photos Tech students' decorated mortarboards are seen during Saturday's procession.

HOUGHTON — Close to 1,000 degrees were handed out at Michigan Technological University’s spring commencement Saturday.

The spring crop of graduates included 675 undergraduates in 54 degree programs, including eight who earned more than one degree.

The spring graduating class also includes 270 graduate degrees: 209 master’s degrees, 51 Ph.D.s and 10 students earning both.

“You’ve come from across the nation and around the world to be here, and you’ve learned more than you might realize by sharing that experience with other people,” said President Glenn Mroz. “You’re going to learn even more as you spread around the globe and continue to meet your next challenges and opportunities, and continue to learn and grow.”

Delivering the commencement address was Paula Wittbrodt, who graduated from Tech in 1993 with a degree in chemical engineering. She now works as head of international business development for Estee Lauder.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette photos Paula Wittbrodt, a 1993 Michigan Technological University graduate, takes a selfie with Tech's spring graduating class at the end of her commencement address Saturday.

She told students to pick a career path that makes sense and leverages their strengths, not because it is what other people want. One of her lifelong goals had been to travel the world; she’s since visited 40 countries and accumulated 2 million air travel miles.

The problem-solving skills she learned at Tech are transferrable to any industry, she said. She took advantage of exploring opportunities. After graduating business school, she went into consulting, regarded as a profession “for people who didn’t know what they wanted to do.”

But it gave her a wide field of knowledge.

“Think about what you really like to do, and you’re good at, and don’t be afraid to take a chance,” she said. “The interesting thing is that I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. But I have a lot more data points in my portfolio, and a good sense of what I like or don’t like.”

The student speaker was David Rushlow of Boyne City, Michigan, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in aerospace engineering.

He reminisced about “minus-47 degree days” and the electric atmosphere at the MacInnes Ice Arena during hockey games, which he witnessed as a member of the MTU Pep Band.

“No matter where you go or what you do, don’t lose that passion for this place, or each other,” he said.