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Nearly 1,400 To Graduate May 11th During SEMO's Spring 2024 Commencement Ceremonies

Southeast Missouri State's Academic Hall, seen from the vantage of the Veterans Plaza, in the spring of 2024.
The region's next generation of teachers, entrepreneurs, and healthcare professionals will take the next step into the workforce as 1,378 graduate during two ceremonies on Sat. May 11, 2024.

This weekend, nearly 1,400 students will take the next step in their professional careers, as Southeast Missouri State holds its two commencement ceremonies Saturday.

According to University communications, on Saturday, May 11, 2024, the total number of degrees for the Spring and Summer semesters awarded will be 1,378, including 964 Undergraduate, 393 Master's, and 21 Specialists.

476 students will be graduating with honors and 172 will have a 4.0 cumulative GPA—52 Undergraduate, and 120 Master's and Specialist.

SEMO President Dr. Carlos Vargas commented on the importance of the occasion in this everchanging economy and workforce environment.

"Commencement is always a special day, said Dr. Vargas. "We are proud to celebrate our students' many years of hard work and accomplishment with them and their families and to help them begin the next chapter of their bright futures."

For many, this is the first major public recognition of their academic accomplishments, especially those who began their higher education endeavors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The speakers during this year's Spring Commencement Ceremonies will be Dr. Timothy M. Judd and Dr. Melissa Odegard.

Dr. Timothy Judd speaks at the 10 a.m. ceremony. This will honor the graduates of the Harrison College of Business & Computing; the Holland College of Arts & Media; and the College of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics.

Dr. Judd is a biologist and educator serving as the chair and professor in the Department of Biology at Southeast Missouri State University. His academic background includes a Bachelor of Science in biology from Cornell University, a Master of Science in biology from Oakland University, and a Ph.D. in zoology from Colorado State University.

In addition to his research, Judd is involved in teaching a variety of courses at SEMO, covering subjects such as animal biology, entomology, and invertebrate biology.

Outside of teaching and research, Judd contributes to program development and pedagogical initiatives at SEMO. He has played a role in the redesign of the geographic information science major and has led workshops on educational technology and course development.

Judd's professional affiliations include membership in organizations such as the Animal Behavior Society and the Entomological Society of America. His research has received funding from sources such as the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Melissa Odegard speaks at the 2 p.m. ceremony. This will honor graduates from the College of Education, Health & Human Studies; and the College of Humanities & Social Sciences.

Dr. Odegard holds a Doctor of Philosophy in counselor education and counseling with an emphasis in clinical mental health counseling from Idaho State University. She is currently a professor at Southeast Missouri State University and chair of the Department of Psychology and Counseling.

Dr. Odegard is a licensed professional counselor in Missouri and has served a variety of clients at Gibson Center for Behavioral Change in Cape Girardeau. Many of the concerns she's addressed are diverse and include but are not limited to: depression, anxiety, substance use, LGBTQ concerns, grief and loss, and telehealth.

Her professional research and publications highlight the need for counselor educators, supervisors, and professional counselors to incorporate advocacy principles into their work. Dr. Odegard also incorporates alternative creative modalities such as hypnosis, expressive arts, and popular culture interventions. Her previous experiences involved working with both urban and rural populations within a clinical context. Odegard also serves as an expert panelist for the Mothers, Infants, and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) Show-Me ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) through the Missouri Telehealth Network.

Dr. Odegard has been published in journals such as the Journal of Counselor Preparation and Supervision, The Psychologist-Manager Journal, and the Journal of Education and Culture Studies.

A live stream and more information about Southeast Missouri State University's 2024 Spring Commencement can be found at semo.edu/commencement.