This year, Ron Soeder, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland, will be speaking to graduates at the 2019 fall commencement.
Soeder is a BW alumnus, graduated in 1976, with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He was in the wall covering industry for nearly 30 years before joining the Boys & Girls Clubs in 2006.
He has expanded their programing and elevated the clubs, with a total of 11 clubs in the Cleveland area, said Richard Fletcher, Senior Vice President. These clubs serve inner city youth in Cleveland, with afterschool programs that assist with physical activity in sports and keeping the kids focused on academics, such as helping them get into college.
“Ron transferred his leadership and organizational skills that he learned in business and applied a lot of that to his passion for the work of serving students in the non-profit community,” said Fletcher.
Soeder was shocked and blown away when he found out that he would be speaking at fall commencement.
While he does not know exactly what he will be talking about, Soeder hopes to tell a story about his life up to now. He plans on talking about his time at BW and working his way through the obstacles that he found important to young people to be successful in life.
Soeder plans on concluding with the message, “Your circumstances don’t determine your outcome if you have the right kind of support and drive.”
Soeder has reached back and built a relationship with BW and now students are volunteering and completing their work study for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland as well as having several interns over the past five years.
“A solid human being, caring, compassionate,” said Fletcher, “who has made a difference in the world, Greater Cleveland community, and I think his message will be sincere and direct that we all have a responsibility to do that as well, however we can.”
Fall commencement is a smaller ceremony with approximately 350 undergraduate and graduate students in attendance.
A lot of students complete their degrees in the fall term, and some leave the area or cannot come back for spring commencement, said Fletcher.
“This gives those students the opportunity to cross the stage, be recognized, get their diplomas and participate in an important event in the life of the university,” said Fletcher.
This year’s fall commencement will take place on Saturday, Dec 14 at 2 p.m. in Ursprung Gymnasium in the Lou Higgins Center.