PEORIA, Ill. -- Nathalie Khoury is excited about the big day, but she's nervous about tomorrow.
The Bradley University senior will leave commencement with a degree in nutrition and wellness and is understandably anxious about the health of the job market.
"You're competing against everyone at Bradley that's graduating," said Khoury, whose from Dunlap. "Everyone has really good degrees here. I'm not too dependent on staying in the area but it would be nice if I could because my whole family is here."
Many graduates have the same concerns. That's because half of the students who graduated from college a year ago are still unemployed or under-employed.
English major Justin Brush will take anything he can get.
"Right now I'm looking for any job that will have me and I'll worry about getting a career that's related to my degree later," explained Brush. "If I can get a job that's related to my degree now that's great."
Brush and about 800 other graduates received words of encouragement from the executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company. The keynote speaker at Bradley Commencement, William Clay Ford, Jr., urged students to stay determined and persevere.
"I had no idea when I started out that the road ahead would be so difficult and filled with so many obstacles," Ford told the crowd of students, family and friends gathered at the Peoria Civic Center's Carver Arena.
Even if you have a passion for what you're doing and are trying to make the world a better place things won't always go your way," added Ford. "Its important to hang in here, not lose sight of your ultimate goal and keep working toward it."
Ford closed by telling a story about the time his great-grandfather, Henry Ford, built a prototype automobile in his garage. When it was completed the car was too big to fit through the door. That didn't stop Henry Ford. He knocked down a wall.