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Meet your Class of 2021 Graduate Student Speaker: Pete Ophoven

Drexel University School of Education

Pete Ophoven Drexel University School of Education

June 3, 2021

The School of Education's 2021 Commencement Ceremony will include dynamic student speakers who applied and were chosen to address their fellow graduates. Before you hear them speak at commencement, get to know your Class of 2021 Graduate Student Speaker, Pete Ophoven.

What is your name?

Pete Ophoven

What is your major?

I'm getting my Master’s in Creativity and Innovation with a Minor in Mind, Brain, and Learning.

Why did you choose Drexel?

After an extensive and exhaustive search for programs that specialize in the study of Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, it was clear Drexel University was on the top of the list. In addition to the reputation of the Creativity and Innovation program, the faculty themselves struck me as those who piqued my curiosity and excited me to come here and learn from them.

If you could describe your experience at Drexel in one word, what would it be?

That is so difficult, maybe ‘up-leveling’ although that really doesn’t capture it. How about ‘Supernatural’. Or can I create a new word: Excitativity (the combination of exciting and creativity).

What are your plans for after graduation?

I’m completing my capstone in creativity and innovation. If anyone is interested, they can check out my research which will be launching mid-July 2021 ( In the fall I will working on a book that my wife Liz and I are collaborating on (based on this research). We are excited to use the text to assist in teaching classes and retreats and workshops in Creativity and Mindfulness. The goal is to spread the word and pass on what we have learned and are learning.

How has Drexel helped you grow not only academically, but also as a person?

Since I started at Drexel, I have launched a successful business that has grown to over 7 employees and expanded into the whole Pacific Northwest. I look back to who I was in the fall of 2019 embarking on this journey. That seems like ages ago, with Covid-19 and everything we have all endured, it is hard to put into words this stage of our lives. I would also add that I feel a great deal of confidence that a few years ago I could maybe only imagine, and hope was in my future. It is funny how the changes that we undergo do not happen overnight until we look back in reflection and can feel proud of what we have accomplished. Think of how much all of us have endured and survived in the past 20 months. None of us did it alone, we all really needed each other, and continue to need each other. That is something I really learned at Drexel – there is community all around us, even if we are feeling lonely from time to time, there are always people nearby just waiting to lend a hand.

Who are some of the professors that had a big impact on you? How?

There are so many professors that come to mind. Dr. Larry Keiser for sure – who embodies the creativity and innovation program. He encourages all of us to think differently and to push our boundaries. Right along with Dr. Keiser is Dr. Reisman who extends into everything we do in the School of Education. I am grateful to the legacy she created so many years ago. Dr. Kristen Betts who really offered her mentorship along with her instruction. Her excitement and enthusiasm I know often fueled me to push myself beyond what I thought I was capable of. Richard Kantor inspired me to see my own genius within and to cherish that gift. Finally, Dr. Michael Kozak who combines a great sense of humor along with a dedicated sense of academia excellence. As I stated above, the people, the community, really makes Drexel something spectacular.

What is your favorite memory at Drexel?

I would like to share two if I can. In my first class, studying with Dr. Larry Keiser, It was the foundations course in creativity and we were assigned a mid-term exam. I took a look at it and had a moment of panic because it was hard – like sweating in my boots hard. And then I read the comments by Dr. Keiser who said the following, “I encourage you to reach out and work with peers from class”, he continued to say, “You know, when you share your work in school, people often consider it cheating, when you share your work outside of school it is called collaboration. Please, reach out and connect with others in the class.” I have never forgotten that moment, and it was inspiring at the same time. I remember that exam was the first opportunity to connect outside of the learning management system, and to this day, we still text each other and reach out all the time.

The second memory was recently when I was told that I would be speaking at commencement. I was so honored. I have met so many amazing students here at Drexel and each of them continues to make me proud to be a Drexel Dragon. So, yes, a great memory and also one that comes with a great deal of responsibility – for I stand for all of us and hope to make everyone proud.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Is that where you find yourself now?

Well, maybe not a kid, but when I was in my early adolescence, I wanted to be psychiatrist. At the time, I really believed it was one of the greatest ways to help others and to make a difference and make a contribution to others. Well, I am certainly not a psychiatrist. I am a teacher – and as a teacher, I am accomplishing the same goals, for teachers help others and they certainly make a difference in peoples lives.

Any advice for future students?

Yes. Reach out to others in your class. Make connections, create a community and keep the community alive. No matter how silly it may feel at times to share your ideas with your peers, the more you do it, it is like ripples, spreading over a vast ocean. We all need to hear and see and feel those ripples. If not for you, do it for the other students that aren’t quite sure and are feeling a little shy or lonely and it is your voice that may shake them into taking the same risk. It makes all the difference in the world sometimes to share your experience and to be witnessed by others.

Also, remember, the faculty, your teachers, they were once in the same exact place that you are sitting. They were once exhausted, maybe working three jobs, maybe unsure and feeling a little bit shaky. Reach out to them, don’t be afraid to share your story with them. They are people too and often are looking forward to hearing from you.