The Ohio State University at Lima

Lima student to deliver student speech at Ohio State 2019 commencement

May 1, 2019

For two minutes on May 5, a familiar face from the Ohio State Lima campus will be the focus of attention for the 2019 graduates of The Ohio State University, their families and friends.

Melissa Martinez-Cuen is one of two student speakers at the 2019 commencement ceremony at Ohio Stadium. She is the first from the Lima campus and is excited to represent all the students who have studied on the regional campuses.

“While regional campuses and the main campus provide similar experiences in more ways than we realize, I also know that we are very different in other ways,” Martinez-Cuen said. “I wanted to make sure I could share my experience given that I did spent my college years solely at Ohio State Lima, and that my experience might be similar to the experience of many others.”

Martinez-Cuen’s experiences have been extraordinary. She moved to Paulding at 15 when her parents were transferred to the area. She did not speak English, which made the transition to a high school student in the United States all that more difficult. She did everything she could to immerse herself in the language and culture.

She came to Ohio State Lima ready to help others overcome difficult obstacles. In her time at Ohio State Lima, Martinez-Cuen has been involved in activities from building houses in Appalachia to traveling with the honors program to being voted Lima’s 2018 Homecoming Queen.

Service has been a big part of Martinez-Cuen’s college experience and will figure prominently into her speech.

“I talk about service and being involved and active, and the amazing learning experience that that provides outside the classroom,” Martinez-Cuen said. “I want students like me to realize that while graduation is a huge accomplishment, we will continue being Buckeyes and we have the mission to be work hard, be involved in our communities, and go that extra mile whatever the next step of our lives looks like.”

130 students who completed all or most of their coursework toward an Ohio State degree at the Lima campus are part of the 2019 graduates. An additional 169 graduates took classes in Lima at some point. Some of the 169 began their Buckeye paths in Lima before transitioning to Columbus to complete their programs and others took summer classes. Ohio State graduates from all the campuses earning a bachelor’s degree or above can walk in the commencement ceremony. The total number of degree and certificate earners eligible for spring commencement is 12,213.

Martinez-Cuen is one of two student speakers. Fareed Zakaria, CNN Worldwide host and Washington Post columnist, will deliver the commencement address.

Martinez-Cuen is not nervous yet, but she expects that by the time of the ceremony that will change. She will have a lot of support in the audience. In addition to the friends and faculty in the audience, Martinez-Cuen will have a built-in cheering section. Her whole family will be in attendance, including both sets of grandparents who will be making the trip from Mexico for the occasion.

“I have always said that family is the most important thing and I am one blessed girl to be able to share this day with them,” Martinez-Cuen said.


Melissa Martinez-Cuen graduates in spring 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in early childhood education. She plans to teach in the Ottawa-Glandorf Local Schools beginning in autumn 2019.