Following Saturday’s Commencement exercises, Will Scheren hit the slopes at Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre, donning his full graduation regalia — cap, gown and hood — with a snowboard to boot.
For Scheren, who graduated with a Master of Business Administration, that moment captured more than his love for the sport; it spoke volumes for its evolution.
“Snowboarding is becoming more professional, and it’s becoming more mainstream and it hasn’t lost any of its qualities that made it great in the beginning,” said Scheren, head coach of Liberty’s ski and snowboard team and assistant manager of Snowflex. “It’s progressing and it’s progressing with society.”
The quick ride down the mountain was a testament to what that day was for Scheren, a celebration of his achievements and all that Liberty has meant to him since beginning his undergraduate studies in business in 2004.
“It’s been great, I’ve made a lot of friends, I had a lot of fun and I learned a lot,” Scheren said. “I feel like in my time here I got prepared for the rest of my life and had a good Christian foundation to try to hold solid to. But I still learned practical things that I need to know and the skills that I am going to need to make myself useful to another organization someday.”
Scheren, who originally hails from Lovettsville, Va., enjoyed Saturday’s ceremony and the chance to celebrate it with friends and loved ones.
“It was a great Commencement ceremony, we enjoyed ourselves while we were there, we felt relaxed and comfortable. The ceremony itself was great, it was formal and it definitely was appropriate,” he said.
Since for him Commencement is about celebrating the graduate, Scheren said the ceremony was exactly what he expected and that the address by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney applied to the audience.
“A good Commencement speaker should be relevant. They should address that aspect of themselves – in Mitt’s case he’s a political figure, he should have some political things to say – but also they should realize this is not a moment for them, this is a moment to celebrate someone else and their achievements and congratulate them,” he said. “I thought Mitt was great, he did exactly what a Commencement speaker should do, he addressed why he is relevant and he did say some political things, which we expected, but he got to the point of what a Commencement speaker should say and that you should stick true to your roots, what you learned at this school and go out and do good things.”
Scheren said he is proud to attend a university that brings such an eclectic panel of speakers to address its student body throughout the year, and in this case, such a high-profile speaker to deliver the charge at his graduation.
“Having what a lot of people assume to be the next president of the United States come and speak at your Commencement is pretty incredible,” he said. “That’s a high-ticket item that Liberty gave us all free tickets to. We got to be addressed and charged up by what could be the next leader of the free world. I know it’s a tough thing getting a Commencement speaker, and I think we got the best one this year.”
As a witness of Liberty’s exponential growth and expansion over the last eight years, Scheren said it has been exciting to watch.
“To see the plans that are ahead are even more exciting,” he added. “It makes you want to stay around to see where this university is going to go.”
Thanks to Snowflex, Scheren has had a hand in just that. He has helped develop the only year-round ski slope of its kind in North America and helmed the three-year-old ski and snowboard team at its first national championship appearance this year.
“It’s exciting to see where the sport goes and it’s exciting to see how business aligns with it and where culture takes it,” he said.
And though he admits he is not sure what is next, Scheren said, “I feel prepared, and I’m not rushing to get anywhere, but I feel like I’m in a good place and I feel like I’m ready for whatever comes down the pipeline.”