Commencement Speaker Asks Graduates to Be Someone’s Hero

Published on May 17, 2022

As she recalls how she became interested in agriculture, Eastern Kentucky University student Gracie Staude credits the stories and encouragement of her great-grandfather. 

“My Pappa was the only one who believed in me,” Staude said. “When I told him I was going to join FFA, his face lit up with the biggest smile. He encouraged me to stay in FFA, admitted it would be challenging, but said I would learn so much and have an outstanding time.” 

Staude shared her experiences with graduates attending EKU’s 2022 Spring Commencement Ceremonies for the College of Business, the College of Education and Applied Human Sciences, and the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences on Friday, May 13. Staude graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Education degree. 

During her time at EKU, Staude served in leadership of the EKU Campus Engagement Organization, the Student Alumni Ambassador program, and worked as a Residential Advisor. She also serves as a foster volunteer for the “4Paws” organization that trains and places service animals with clients. She currently is fostering a seven-month-old Golden Retriever named Jesse. 

She was always passionate about animals and agriculture, even though she did not grow up on a farm.

“I am going to become an agriculture teacher because of my involvement in FFA,” Staude said. “I chose this career for many reasons. From the supportive people in my life to the passion I have for agriculture. But my Pappa, he was my unsung hero. He knew that I could find a passion in agriculture and make a difference in this industry. He was the one who believed in me and pushed me to embark on this journey.”

Staude admitted that her four-year collegiate journey wasn’t always easy but the fact that she continued to persevere and became her own hero at times made a difference in finishing strong.

“We are about to enter the scary world that is adulting,” Staude said. “We have the choice to bring people down or build them up. Someone believed in you, someone was your hero. Now it’s your turn to do the same for people around you. Be their hero and make a difference in this world.”

EKU recognized 2,292 degree candidates from its six academic colleges during its spring commencement ceremonies. 

View the ceremony in its entirety via YouTube: EKU Spring 2022 Commencement-Morning Ceremony