KOKOMO, Ind. — Indiana University Kokomo celebrated it best and brightest Monday, with the undergraduate honors convocation and master's recognition and hooding ceremony.
Interim Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke congratulated the students on their achievements, and for their hard work.
"We want you to know, you exemplify excellence," she said. "We encourage you to continue to excel in all that you do."
Kathy Parkison, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs, said faculty and staff enjoy watching students succeed.
"It's events like these that remind those of us who have dedicated our lives to higher education why we have made that choice," she said.
For Lucien Madding, receiving his academic honors program medal at the convocation was the culmination of a long journey. He's worked at IU Kokomo for 25 years, and enrolled as a student more than seven years ago.
Madding, from Kokomo, works in shipping and receiving in physical plant, and earned his bachelor's degree in labor studies with honors. He plans to complete the last few credits he needs for a bachelor's degree in general studies, and is also considering graduate school options.
"I decided if I'm ever going to do anything in life, I had to get my bachelor's degree," Madding said. "I was 43 when I started, and I thought, Lord willing, I was going to be 53 in 10 years, and I wanted to be 53 with a college degree. That was seven and a half years ago, so I got it in."
Mary Olk, who received the Outstanding Student Leader Award, said it meant a lot to her to have her service recognized.
"It's nice to be appreciated," she said. "I really wanted to be involved like I was, and I'm passionate about it. To be recognized for it is a true privilege."
Olk, from Peru, has served as student body vice president, editor of the campus newspaper, and as an orientation leader. She was a member of the SumAntics improvisation group and worked as the student writer in the Office of Media and Marketing. She also received the outstanding student award in communication arts.
Jordan Ousley, from Kokomo, was honored to receive the outstanding education student award.
"All of my colleagues in education are just as deserving of this award," he said. "I appreciate the education faculty, Dean [Paul] Paese, and everyone who helped make me a better teacher."
Twenty-two graduate students in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (M.A.L.S.), Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.), and Master of Public Management (M.P.M.) programs received honors at the annual master's recognition and hooding ceremony.
Each student received the hood that marks him or her as earning a master's degree from a mentor faculty member.
Earning an M.B.A. has already impacted Joe Cameron's career. He starts work soon as an assistant tour manager for the Broadway musical "Sister Act."
"I got the exact job I wanted," he said, adding that he stood out among applicants because few people in the entertainment industry have master's degrees.
"It's definitely going to help me with upward mobility in the company," he said. "The people I interviewed with were happy I have that credential and skill set."
Marjorie Schaeffner, Macy, plans to teach English overseas, after completing her M.A.L.S. degree. She earned the award for the outstanding student in her program.
She said her teaching assistantship with Kristen Snoddy, senior lecturer in English, was a life-changing experience.
"If I was ever on the fence before about teaching, there's no doubt now that I am a teacher," she said. "She gave me a little taste of what it's like, and I know it's what I was meant to do."
Schaeffner has started looking for jobs teaching English in Japan or China.
Jayne Deno, Kokomo, returned to earn her M.P.M. degree after her twin sons graduated from college.
"It was my turn," she said, "It was the right time to go to school. I really enjoyed the program. It was very intense, but worthwhile."
Deno completed her program while working in admissions at Ivy Tech Community College. She previously worked nearly 30 years at Delphi, in human resources and communications.
"It's a great deal of personal satisfaction for me to finish," she said. "I've gained so much. The professors are excellent. We are so fortunate to have people with so much insight and knowledge at this university."
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.