Graduates celebrated at the Kokomo Event and Conference Center to a standing-room only crowd of family and friends.
President Michael A. McRobbie congratulated the graduates, noting they are part of a record number of nearly 20,800 students graduating from IU this week.
Their commencement comes at a time of change, he said, including new degree programs and majors, in areas including biological and physical sciences, mathematics, sociology, new media, and communication.
“The impetus behind all this change has been the same, to provide our students with the best, most relevant educational opportunities possible, so they are well-positioned for success upon their graduation is today’s workforce, and so they are prepared to meet challenges and opportunities that arise here in Indiana, across the country, and around the world,” McRobbie said.
For the members of the Class of 2016, he noted, the changing world means extensive tasks pressing to be performed, and immense problems in need of solving.
“As graduates of Indiana University, you have been preparing for years to become the next generation to discover, to understand, and to apply all that you have learned,” he said. “May you have the clear-sightedness to perceive the problems that exist wherever you find yourselves, the wisdom to discern the most effective solutions, and the courage to respond when you are called to advance the common good. May you carry on the traditions of excellence that have brought you to this moment.”
Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke highlighted accomplishments of individual graduates, including first-generation graduates Brenda Morgan and Fatoumata Jalloh, veterans Matthew Spencer Sr. and Nathan Kring, and mother and daughter Rachelle Purcell-LaMonde and Nicole Purcell.
She saluted Amanda Smith, who served an internship with the Indiana Attorney General’s office, Grace Ebikwo, a mother of five who emigrated from Nigeria, and Josselin Schafer, who was adopted from Guatemala at age 8, and returned there for the first time with an IU Kokomo class.
“Our students come to us from different backgrounds,” she said. “They saw our campus as a place of tremendous opportunity. As they leave us today, we know they are prepared to make a difference in the world.”
Ashley Lowe, from Twelve Mile, represented the class as student speaker.
She compared the IU diplomas the graduates were receiving to historical documents, all important pieces of paper that have significant impact on lives.
“Like the Declaration of Independence, an IU diploma allows each of our graduates to leave here today and start the rest of our lives however we choose,” she said. “The opportunities our diplomas allot us are endless …In our audience may sit the next humanitarian, the next Mark Zuckerburg, or the brain behind the cure for cancer. Guaranteed to be sitting in our audience are hundreds of advocates and volunteers for worthy causes, and thousands of ready hands and kind smiles, all of which will go a long way towards creating a more perfect union.”
Finally, the moment that had been years in the making arrived — conferral of degrees.
Sciame-Giesecke asked graduates in each degree program to stand, and presented them to McRobbie, who conferred the degrees. Then, each one had a moment in the spotlight, crossing the stage to shake hands — or hugs — with the chancellor, and receive his or her diploma.
Mark Canada, vice chancellor for academic affairs, read each name, and cheers and applause broke out, as family members celebrated their individual graduate.
Many members of the class showed their creativity, creating works of art on their mortarboards, with sequined IU pitchforks, brightly colored bows, and even glowing Christmas lights. A few advertised their job searches, while others sported themed hats for their majors, including glittery apples for education majors, and a bow made of crime scene tape for a criminal justice major.
Sciame-Giesecke congratulated the graduates for their accomplishments.
“We are proud that every student matters here,” she said. “We couldn’t be more proud of you.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.