CLEMSON – Clemson University awarded degrees to 1,300 students Thursday in graduation ceremonies in Littlejohn Coliseum.

Clemson University President James Clements speaks at the school’s 118th commencement ceremony in Littlejohn Coliseum Dec. 18.

Clemson University President James P. Clements speaks at the school’s 118th graduation ceremony in Littlejohn Coliseum.

President James P  Clements acknowledged the sacrifices both the students and their families made to get to this point, particularly those family members who couldn’t be in attendance because they were serving overseas in the armed forces.

“Today we will celebrate your hard work, your experience and imagine all the possibilities that lie ahead,” he said.

Alumnus Steven H. Owings (’75) received an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities in recognition of his entrepreneurial spirit and loyal support of his community, family and alma mater.

Owings received the biggest ovation of the day as he recounted a memory from his own graduation in 1975, which he noted also a winter graduation.

“I vaguely remember walking across the stage and shaking president R.C. Edwards’ hand as I received a folder containing my diploma, and I think they took my picture as I came off stage. I sort of remember walking from the stage back to my chair, but I vividly remember opening the folder to get a look at the symbol of all my hard work: my diploma. It’s hard to describe my feelings when I looked down and read the words on that closed piece of paper: ‘Steve Owings: You will receive your diploma when you’ve paid your parking tickets.’”

Stephen H. Owings speaks to Clemson University graduates after receiving an honorary Doctorate of Humanities during the school's 118th commencement ceremony.

Stephen H. Owings speaks to Clemson University graduates after receiving an honorary Doctorate of Humanities during the school’s 118th graduation ceremony.

He went on to address the challenges he overcame right out of college, advising the graduates to go outside their comfort zones when seeking employment.

“For most of you there’s a significant amount of stress right now, trying to land your first job. My advice to you is don’t overthink it – just go get a job. Interview for as many jobs as you can, inside and outside your chosen field. Don’t be surprised if you don’t land the perfect job. Don’t be depressed if you don’t get an offer in your field. I would suggest just taking the best job you can get no matter what field it’s in.”

He pointed out that his biography in the day’s program notes that he started his career in 1983, eight years after he graduated Clemson.

In keeping with tradition, Clements shook the hand of every graduate as they crossed the stage

The Class of ’39 award for Excellence was given to Catherine Mobley, professor in the sociology and anthropology department, for contributions judged by her peers to represent the highest achievement of service to the university and the student body.