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UC grads ready to turn page on next chapter

UC will celebrate fall commencement Friday at Fifth Third Arena.

Leah Wolff expected that by coming to the University of Cincinnati, she would open new horizons.

When the honors scholar crossed the Atlantic Ocean to study abroad in Germany, she realized that dream. Wolff will share her experience abroad as the undergraduate student speaker for UC’s fall commencement.

“I went to Oktoberfest in Germany, which was so fun. And I got to see where in Austria they filmed ‘The Sound of Music,’ one of my favorite movies as a kid. And I went paragliding in Switzerland,” she said. “How often can you say that?”

Commencement begins at 10 a.m. Friday at Fifth Third Arena. Doors open at 8 a.m. Tickets are required for all guests. The arena allows only clear plastic bags.

Can't make the ceremony? Watch the livestream.

University of Cincinnati celebrates its Summer 2023 Commencement Ceremony.

UC students will celebrate fall commencement Friday at Fifth Third Arena. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

About the fall class of 2023

UC will award 2,515 degrees, including 196 associate degrees, 1,141 bachelor’s degrees, 1,044 master’s degrees and 132 doctoral degrees along with two professional certificates. (Some students earn multiple degrees.)

This semester UC has the highest percentage of out-of-state students since 2016, according to UC’s Office of Institutional Research.

And 14% of grads are first-generation college students.

UC has also seen an increase in the number of students earning advanced degrees. UC will celebrate the most students earning master’s and doctoral degrees since the fall of 2016. Many of these come from UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services, which has seen a surge in information technology majors.

Fall graduates hail from every state but Maine and New Hampshire and 30 countries across five continents.

About 3% of graduates this fall are military veterans or dependents of veterans. And 66 students this fall are graduates of Cincinnati Public Schools.

Leah Wolff takes a selfie in front of mountains.

Lindner College of Business graduate Leah Wolff is among the more than 2,500 students who will celebrate fall commencement on Friday at Fifth Third Arena. Wolff studied abroad in Europe at UC. Photo/Leah Wolff

Wolff, a graduate of UC’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business, was a double major in finance and international business. She had four internships through UC’s top-ranked co-op program.

Portrait of Leah Wolff.

UC graduate Leah Wolff will be student speaker at commencement. Photo/Provided

“The networking at Lindner is unmatched,” Wolff said. “They can connect you with co-ops in your expertise. No matter what your interests are, they can find something for you.”

Her sister, Kierstin Wolff, is a 2021 UC business graduate.

The younger Wolff said she was extremely shy when she arrived at UC five years ago. But she gained a lot of confidence through her work, travel and school experiences.

“UC made me confident enough to travel the world,” she said. “I’m so happy with my personal development. UC offers you chances to branch out and surround yourself with people who can introduce you to new things. That’s been a big blessing for me.”

A group photo on a snowy mountain.

UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services graduate Foster Opals is president of UC's Cincy Snowcats ski and snowboard club. Photo/Provided

About 14% of UC students transferred from another college or university. Among them is graduate Foster Opals in UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services.

Opals majored in criminal justice. He plans to pursue a career in federal law enforcement. At UC, he had an internship with the Cincinnati Police Department, where he worked with crime data.

“Policing is becoming increasingly data driven,” Opals said.

A headshot of Foster Opals in front of the American flag.

UC graduate Foster Opals. Photo/Provided

He also had internships with the U.S. Department of Justice both in Cincinnati and in Washington, D.C.

“It’s a great thing about studying at UC. We have so many connections to help us get real-world experiences so we know what we want to do — or what we don’t want to do — in our career,” Opals said.

After graduation, Opals plans to go to graduate school to study criminal justice. But first he and other members of UC’s ski and snowboard club called the Cincy Snowcats are heading to Colorado for a little winter fun. He is president of the club.

“I picked up skiing in fourth grade. It’s been a passion of mine,” he said. 

His advice to new students: follow your interests to join one of UC’s 600 student organizations.

“Get involved in as many things as you can, both inside your major and in whatever you’re interested in,” he said. “That’s where a lot of my opportunities and friends and life experiences were.”

University of Cincinnati celebrates its Summer 2023 Commencement Ceremony.

UC President Neville Pinto congratulates a graduate on stage at Fifth Third Arena. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

Graduates in the class of 2023 celebrated Bearcat victories and saw UC’s footprint expand in both new programs and new facilities.

In the spring, UC cut the ribbon on its new $93 million Clifton Court Hall, which features classrooms, offices and labs serving departments in three colleges, particularly the College of Arts and Sciences. Last year, UC celebrated its new Digital Futures building as a collaborative research hub for science and industry. Calhoun Hall reopened this year after an $80 million renovation. And UC unveiled a new Esports Innovation Lab in the 1819 Innovation Hub.

A study sponsored by the Inter-University Council of Ohio in May found that UC generates $10.6 billion in income and more than 125,000 jobs for the business community in southwest Ohio, northern Kentucky and eastern Indiana.

UC contributes $2.5 billion in clinical health care spending; $679 million in operational spending; $418 million in research spending and more than $200 million in student spending each year.

The university created a new College of Cooperative Education and Professional Studies. It builds on the model that UC engineering Dean Herman Schneider pioneered in 1906 in which students spend part of the year in the classroom and part of the year working full time at employers in their chosen fields.

And UC was named among the nation’s top universities for co-op by U.S. News & World Report in its latest rankings.

Featured image at top: UC graduates will celebrate fall commencement on Friday at Fifth Third Arena. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

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