Alumnus Gives Advice to Ashland University Graduates

12/17/11 ASHLAND, OH -- “Passion will make a rocky road smoother; a love for what you do will make work simpler. When you leave here today, I hope each one of you will go and find and seek out your passion.”


That was the challenge that Ashland University alumnus Jerry Ruyan presented to graduates during his commencement address at Ashland University’s Winter Commencement ceremony held on Saturday, Dec. 17, in the University’s Kates Gymnasium.

In his speech, titled “In Search of Passion,” Ruyan told the graduates that they need to find their passion. “I love what I do. I do what I love,” he said.

Ruyan, a 1968 graduate of Ashland University and founding member of Redwood Holdings Inc. of Cincinnati, asked how many of the graduates were going into the field of education. He then addressed those students.

“You are the crown jewels of this graduating class. We are entrusting in your hands the education of our next generation,” Ruyan said. “Each one of us in this room can close our eyes and go back and think of educators whose passion and love for what they did influenced each one of us.

“When you go out and begin to educate our next generation, you have no idea the influence that you have on those people,” he said. “Hold on to your passion, love what you do because that message is what you’re going to communicate to your students.”


Ruyan ended the speech by noting some bad news and good news for the graduates.

“The bad news is the job market is very tough. But the good news is it is getting better,” he said. “Virtually every one of the businesses that we work with are all looking to hire within the coming year. And they believe that the next several years will be significantly better than the past two.”


Following the commencement address, the presentation of degrees was handled by President Fred Finks and Provost Dr. Frank Pettigrew. A total of 622 degrees (457 graduate and 165 undergraduate) were awarded in the winter 2011 ceremony, including three doctor of education, 313 master of education, 118 master of business administration, four master of American history and government, 19 master of fine arts in creative writing, 13 bachelor of arts, two bachelor of music, 19 bachelor of science, 30 bachelor of science in business administration, 48 bachelor of science in education, 50 bachelor of science in nursing, one bachelor of fine arts, and two associate of arts.

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2012, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.