The Class of 2015 enjoyed the elegant setting of the Kokomo Event and Conference Center, draped in red and black to create a regal backdrop for the ceremony. Family and friends of the graduates filled the center, holding up cell phones to take pictures, and cheering as they processed in to begin the festivities.
IU President Michael A. McRobbie congratulated the class, noting the immediate values of higher education, such as more job opportunities, and better lifetime earnings, as well as the deeper and more profound values.
“In addition to providing a high quality education that teaches intellectual and practical skills, universities also instill high ethical values and practices among students,” McRobbie said. “As graduates of Indiana University, you have been preparing for years to become the next generation to discover, to understand, to pursue what is right and good, and to apply all that you have learned.
“Equipped with knowledge, armed with courage, and tempered by prudence, may you continue to strive to bring wisdom to human affairs, to toil for justice, and to advance the common good. May you carry on the traditions of excellence that have brought you to this moment, and may you work together to build a future even brighter and more celebrated than today.”
Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke highlighted individual graduates’ achievements, including Alexius Babb, a first-generation college student who has won many research awards, and plans to earn a doctorate to be a clinical psychology.
She shared about Shanique Gilliam, who once lived in a homeless shelter, and chose IU Kokomo as her ticket to break the cycle of poverty in her family. She commended Jenessa Anderson, who earned her degree while serving first in ROTC and now in the Army National Guard, and Mandy Bagwell, who lost her vision as a young child, and earned a scholarship to law school. She asked all student veterans to stand for applause, and also honored international students and those who studied overseas or served internships during their college careers.
“Our students have come from very different backgrounds, with very different goals, and very different stories, but what I have noticed is that each and every one of them brought to campus an adventurous, determined spirit,” said Sciame-Giesecke. “They saw our campus as a place of tremendous opportunity and promise to pursue their career goals. The faculty and staff, in turn, made a commitment to each student, to support him or her in their journey, no matter what path it would take. We are very proud that each student matters here.”
Brian Arwood, student body president, said when he enrolled at IU Kokomo four years ago, his goal was to be the student speaker when he graduated.
Arwood, a nursing major from Peru, urged his graduating class to be lifelong learners, and not to take themselves too seriously.
“The person I laugh at most is myself,” he said. “May you always hope for more, love more, laugh more, and may you never stop learning.”
Finally, the moment the graduates had been waiting for arrived — the conferral of degrees. Sciame-Giesecke asked graduates of each program to stand, and presented them to McRobbie, who invited them to turn their tassels, indicating they were college graduates.
Then, each graduate had his or her moment in the spotlight. Todd Gambill, vice chancellor for student services and enrollment management, announced the names as graduates crossed the stage to accept a diploma and handshake — and sometimes a hug — from the chancellor.
At times, cheers rose from the crowd, and family members stood to snap pictures or wave. At least one graduate carried a selfie stick onto the stage, and Bagwell followed her guide dog, Roscoe, who was dressed for the occasion in a dress shirt and tie.
Sciame-Giesecke congratulated all the graduates on behalf of IU Kokomo.
“All of our students have worked hard to earn this prestigious degree, that commands respect and instills pride. We couldn’t be more proud.”