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Eberhart to give student speech at Binghamton University graduation

Senior track & field captain is 2010 National College Athlete Honor Society inductee

May 14, 2012

Eberhart to give student speech at Binghamton University graduation

Photo Gallery of Michelle Eberhart's undergraduate career

This Week @BinghamtonU website

Binghamton University 2012 graduation website

VESTAL, N.Y.—Senior Michelle Eberhart, who was a captain on the women’s track & field team, will be a commencement speaker at Binghamton University’s graduation ceremonies, which will be held on Sunday, May 20 in the Events Center.

Originally from New City, N.Y., Eberhart has made her mark both on and off the track. She has earned four medals in the jump events at the America East Championships during her career and was inducted into the National College Honor Society in April 2010. At the Binghamton Athletic Awards Banquet two weeks ago, Eberhart was honored for having one of the top 10 cumulative GPAs among graduating seniors in the department.

Despite all of her accomplishments, Eberhart wasn’t sure what to expect when she applied to become a student speaker at graduation. She figured it was worth a shot and was pleasantly surprised with being selected

“I’m really excited about being the commencement speaker,” she said. “It was something that I just thought I’d try, but didn’t expect to actually get it. I hope that my message gets across to everyone that’s there.”

With her speech already having been written, she has been busy practicing it the past few weeks. The message that she intends to convey is one that she hopes reaches many of her fellow graduates.

“My speech is about social media and technology of today and how it effects our lives as college students,” she said. “We’re in an age where everyone has Facebook, most people have smart phones and Twitter, and everything moves super quickly. With that being said, we’ve started to depend more on technology and less on personal interactions with others. I want to make people realize that and become aware that even though we have this amazing influx of information at our fingertips, it’s more important to appreciate the real-life friendships that we’ve made throughout college.”

Eberhart is one who should know about the effect of social media and technology. This past year, she has worked in the Binghamton University Office of Communications and Marketing. Assistant Director Ryan Yarosh has worked closely with her and has seen first hand all of the hard work and creativity she has shown.

“This past year I have had the opportunity to watch Michelle develop into one of the most outstanding, hardworking, dedicated students I have had the opportunity to work with during my time here at Binghamton,” he said. “Michelle has launched, managed and promoted numerous University social media platforms and even helped develop a new online web video series, This Week @BinghamtonU. She is just an all around great person and pleasure to have in the office.”

Eberhart came to Binghamton in 2008 and has been a mainstay on the women’s track & field team ever since. Like Yarosh, head track & field coach Mike Thompson has also gotten to know her up close and personal.

“Michelle has been a huge asset to the team as an athlete, leader and motivator,” he said. “She has a wonderful sense of humor and outgoing personality. I can’t wait to hear what she says at graduation.”

Eberhart is just as complimentary about the Binghamton track & field program she has been a part of the past four years. In addition to the chance to continue her athletic career, being a student-athlete has helped her attain the high grades that she has.

“Being on the track team at Binghamton has done wonders for me. I have the most supportive team anyone could ask for, awesome coaches, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” she said. “Track has also definitely helped me do well at school. Because I’m a dual degree (English and Human Development), I’ve needed to take 156 credits. Doing this took a lot of time management and discipline, and it’s also helped me to limit my procrastination. The athletic department also offers great resources through the Student Athlete Success Center.”.

After being a consistent top-eight finisher at the America East Championships her first two years, Eberhart has battled injuries and was unable to compete at the conference meets this year. Behind the scenes, however, she helped lead the Binghamton women’s team to its most successful outdoor campaign since 2002. After placing as low as seventh at the America East meet two years ago, the Bearcats vaulted up to third place this year. During her freshman year, she was team’s lone scorer in the triple jump at the America East Outdoor Championships. This year, Binghamton took five of the top eight places in that same event at the conference meet.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my team at this year,” she said. “My first two years, we came in the bottom three and this year we were in the top three. The way they performed at conferences was truly inspirational and I know everyone played such a big role in their amazing finish. Of course, I wish I could have been there to cheer everyone on, but I was there in spirit and they know that. My team does a great job in supporting one another and it’s one of the most amazing things to watch.”

Talk to any of her teammates and they will credit Eberhart as being a key part of the team’s turnaround. Fellow senior Kaitlin Sullivan won the 100 hurdles title at last week’s America East outdoor meet and scored a team-high 16 points. She has known Eberhart all four years and has little doubt as to what she means to the program.

“Michelle has been an integral member of this team as a leader and competitor,” she said. ““I am so excited about the opportunity for her to speak at graduation,” Sullivan said. “It is a unique opportunity for her to represent the athletic department. It is a nice way to end her four years at Binghamton.”

“She is one of the most determined and open-hearted people I know,” junior Jessica Hennig said of Eberhart. “She has truly devoted herself to the team and as a captain, has gone above and beyond to bring us all together.”

“Michelle has been a role model for those around her throughout her time at Binghamton,” senior co-captain Alice O’Dell said. “She sincerely loves the sport of track and field. She sets an example for the younger girls, driving them to have the same passion for what we do and to truly care about the choices we make. Michelle is the kind of teammate that gets goose bumps for someone else’s race. She wants to see us all succeed and improve.  That kind of dedication to your team and sport is unique.  I couldn’t of asked for a better co-captain or friend.”

Following graduation, Eberhart plans to pursue a career in public relations, along the same lines as her work in the Binghamton University Office of Marketing and Communications. Looking back at her years at Binghamton, she feels she has grown as a person in every way possible.

“When I came to Binghamton, I really didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “Between the friends that I’ve made,  my time on the track team and opportunities I’ve been granted, I’ve certainly grown up here and I couldn’t have asked for a better college experience.”


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