KOKOMO, Ind. — An enthusiastic crowd of Indiana University Kokomo basketball fans cheered not only for the Cougars at Tuesday's game, but gave a standing ovation to members of the Class of 2013, in honor of Senior Night.
Interim Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke said the two dozen seniors who took a bow at center court during halftime represent the more than 500 who will earn degrees in May 2013.
"We are very appreciative of all our seniors," she said. "We want to recognize their hard work during the last four, five, or six years, to reach their goals. To get a college degree in Indiana is an achievement. This is their moment."
Gary Clevenger, a marketing major from Rochester, said the recognition was a great moment for him.
"I thought it was important for me to be here," he said. "I'm proud to be a student at IU Kokomo, and I'm very proud to be graduating."
It meant a lot to him to be recognized among friends.
"The best part of my experience has been the network of friends I've gained, both among students and faculty," he said.
Alisha Referda, who is completing a degree in new media, said because she commutes from Wabash, she hasn't had a chance to go to a basketball game. She brought her daughter Izzy, 9; and son Jack, 7; to watch while she was honored with the others seniors.
"It was awesome, and a little bit scary," she said.
While Clevenger and Referda will finish their degrees in four years, Suzanne Bell's journey was a bit longer. She began her studies in 1993 as a part-time student, finally enrolling full-time after turning 30.
Bell, from Kokomo, will earn her bachelor's degree in general studies in May. With the end in sight, it was important for her to attend senior night.
"I'm overwhelmed by my emotions," she said. "I never thought I would get here. This is awesome."
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.