Joseph Yaegle reflected on his four-year love affair with St. Bonaventure when he addressed his classmates and guests at the university’s 155th Commencement Exercises at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, May 17.

The 2011 Youngsville (Pa.) High School valedictorian will be awarded a bachelor’s degree in sport studies not long after his speech, which a committee selected among 10 other student submissions.

“To be the speaker at a ceremony honoring a 155-year-old tradition is a feeling like none other,” Yaegle said. “This school means a great deal to me. It truly is my favorite place on Earth, and I’m definitely more than a little sad that my time here is almost up.”

Yaegle admitted he’s wanted to give the student speech at his commencement ceremony since the summer after his freshman year.

“That was my first year as a summer orientation leader and I was so moved by the whole experience that I started practicing speeches in my car on the drive home,” he said. “I wrote about 20 different speeches before I finally settled on what I wanted to say and I have never been as nervous in my life as I was when I auditioned. I was so excited when they selected me. It may have been one of the best moments in my four years here.”

In his time at St. Bonaventure, Yaegle has served as a resident assistant, orientation leader, student ambassador and peer coach. He also earned minors in biology, business and Spanish.

The son of Marianne and Thomas Yaegle Jr., Yaegle plans to move to Myrtle Beach, S.C., to attend the Golf Academy of America to pursue an associate’s degree in operations management and a golf instructor’s certificate.

“Golf is my true passion and I intend to make a career out of it,” said Yaegle, an assistant pro at Jackson Valley Golf Club in Warren, Pa., since 2009. “I hope to some day be involved with the First Tee Organization, which helps to introduce the sport to young people. The game brings me a lot of happiness and I want to share that with others, and early on if I can.”

Yaegle attributes that desire to share his passion to what he learned at St. Bonaventure.

“One of the best lessons I’ve learned at Bona’s is to find happiness in helping or working with others,” he said. “My two favorite jobs have been my positions as an orientation leader and as a resident assistant. I get a lot of enjoyment out of helping other people and, regardless of what I do when I graduate, I want to find a way to continue to make that an important part of my life.

“I hope to always put others before myself and do my best to build community wherever I go,” he said. “I don’t know if I would be able to do that if I hadn’t fully immersed myself here.”