ALLIANCE -- On Saturday, May 12, Curtis Nixon of Woodsfield, graduated from the University of Mount Union. Nixongraduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science and .

More than 520 graduate and undergraduate students participated in the University of Mount Union's 172nd Commencement Ceremony.

"It's pretty cool to be standing up here, because there really is no place like home."

Those were the words of this year's Commencement speaker, Susan (Pelini '86) McGalla, former public company CEO and business owner.

McGalla spent 14 years with American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. She began as a merchandise buyer and advanced through the company to become the president and chief merchandising officer in 2003. She led the growth of the company from $300 million to $3 billion in revenue with industry leading profits and four brands. She has since served as the CEO of The Wet Seal, Inc., and most recently the vice president of business strategy for the Pittsburgh Steelers, until her departure in March 2018.

Senior class president Emma Wilson '18, a national security and foreign intelligence analysis and Spanish double major of Salem, Ohio, and graduate student representative Elise Baldarelli M '18, a physician assistant studies student of Hermitage, Pennsylvania, also spoke to those sitting in the crowded Peterson Field House.

"Today, we not only leave with our diploma, but also a passport filled with stamps from the various activities that we have participated in and the challenges that we have overcome throughout our time at Mount," Wilson said. "Although we all come from different areas of study, we all have one thing in common - our key to unlocking the world."

"It's funny how much of an impact a small town like Alliance, Ohio, with one busy road, can have on a person, and I believe all the graduates sitting here today can attest to that," said Baldarelli.

Thomas Mason '18, a biochemistry major of Alliance, and Stephen Dages '18, a religious studies and school social work double major of Uniontown, Ohio, were also honored with the Heaton W. Harris and Corinne Harris Smith Prize and the Good Citizenship Award, respectively.