Ohio State University graduates largest class in school history, honors Reagan Tokes

COLUMBUS (AP/WCMH) — Thousands of people packed The Shoe on Ohio State’s campus today for graduation, and university leaders say it will be a record-breaking ceremony.

OSU awarded degrees to the largest graduating class in the school’s history. Nearly 12,000 students will be accepting their diplomas.

The 2017 graduating class size surpassed the previous record set last year. The school says this year each graduate will receive their diploma at the ceremony. This is something the university rarely attempts with large classes.

The university will also be honoring a student who left the lives of many far too soon.

Family members of 21-year-old Reagan Tokes will be called on stage Sunday to receive a posthumous degree for Reagan from university president Michael Drake.

Her mother says they are grateful for the honor.

Reagan was three months from graduating with a psychology degree when she was killed.

In past years, students who have died and received their degrees were listed in the commencement program. This year, the university has invited the families of those students a chance to accept their degrees on stage.

Tokes’ family sent out the following statement:

Reagan Delaney Tokes wanted to be a buckeye ever since she was a little girl.  Today her dream became a reality as she was awarded a diploma from The Ohio State University.  As her parents and family, we are so proud of her and her accomplishment.  It is heartbreaking that she was not able to accept the diploma herself but we are so grateful to the University for presenting it to us to accept for her.

The opportunity for a college education is a gift.  Along with this gift one must also have desire, dedication, discipline and determination.  Reagan had all of this and then some and so did all the other students today who received their diploma.  We congratulate them on their achievement and ask that they take their gift and use it to make a difference in this world, make it a better place as Reagan wanted to do but now isn’t able to do so physically.

She has made a difference in this world however and her spirit all around us continues to do so.  She has inspired so many to get involved, to bring about change, to love and care for one another and most importantly to restore and reaffirm their love for God.  Love is ultimately the only thing that matters and love never fades away or dies. Love is also the most important ingredient of success.  Without it, life echoes emptiness.  With it, life vibrates warmth and meaning.  Even in hardship, love shines through.  The love we have for our daughter allows us to celebrate her accomplishment today and to find the strength to  continue to live our lives and and try to make a difference in this world ourselves. Love overcomes everything including evil.

Once again our family has been so blessed by tremendous generosity and kindness the entire community has showered upon us this visit to Columbus.  We are so humbly grateful for all the generous contributions and gestures that have been done for us and our family.  Our hearts are constantly being replenished by all these acts of love.

With immeasurable gratitude and sincerity,

The Tokes Family

Ohio Stadium will open at 10am and the ceremony is scheduled to begin at noon. Guests are encouraged to use the shuttle bus that will run from the West Campus parking to the stadium. For security purposes, guests should expect a visual inspection of bags, persons and clothing capable of concealing prohibited items. You can view a list of allowed and prohibited items here.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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