‘Oh, the places you’ll go!’

Oh, the places youll go!

Jess Hodge

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

The wise words of Dr. Seuss rang true for the newest addition to the Grand Valley State University alumni at the end-of-semester Toast with T. Haas event.

Dozens of champagne bottles were popped, hundreds of glasses clinked together and many congratulations were in order for the more than 300 students that filtered into the L.V. Eberhard Center at Grand Valley State University on Wednesday night. All were there to celebrate themselves, the students, who in a matter of days, will graduate and become alumni of GVSU.

Students had 45 minutes to talk amongst themselves until the speeches began. When GVSU President Thomas Haas stepped on stage and greeted the almost-alums of GVSU, the chatter died down and everyone settled in to listen.

Before congratulating the students, he thanked them.

“Thank you for making the choice to be part of Grand Valley State University,” Haas began. “Each one of you in this room, and now over 100,000 alums, has their own story that they’re still telling.”

This event has turned into a bi-annual tradition since April of 2013. The aim is to show gratitude for the graduates in their persistence to finish college, and, most importantly, graduate from GVSU.

“I so appreciate each and every one of you because you made (this) choice,” Haas said. “I’m hopeful that at the end of the day, you realized that this was the right place for you and that you will continue to excel.

“This is part of your home, (we) will always be a part of your home.”

Haas was only one of three speakers who stood in front of the students that evening.

Maddie Cleghorn, GVSU student senate president, also gave her congratulations on making it through the endless amount of classes, homework and exams. She reflected on the years leading up to this moment.

“There is so much to be proud of and I hope you guys have enjoyed your time at Grand Valley,” she said. “I hope you find a way to carry that with you in your next step.”

Cleghorn wished them luck for whatever is next for them in their lives, as they are always a Laker for a Lifetime.

“In just a few days you guys are going to be rocking that Laker Blue cap and gown as you anticipate what to come,” she said. “Celebrate all the memories that you’ve had at Grand Valley so far and figure out how to take that with you as you go onto the next step of your life.”

The third speaker was Brandon Erhart, a member of the Young Alumni Association at GVSU. He gave his congratulations to the group of students and his advice on what to do after finally being done with school.

“Be sure to use and continue to build your Laker connections,” he said. “The one thing you should know that won’t change is that you are Grand Valley family, and we are always here for you.”

They also had a social media presence this year, which was different from years prior. Collver called it a “live social media wall,” where students at the event could #thaastoast and their post could be shown on the projection slides around the room.

The nearly 1,000 new graduates will walk across the graduation stage at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids on Dec. 12 at 10 a.m. As the Lakers step from being students to alumni, perhaps they will once again remember the words of one of their favorite childhood sages:

“You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so… Get on your way!”