Indiana University Kokomo

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Indiana University Kokomo celebrated the accomplishments of its 547 graduates at Commencement ceremonies Tuesday, May 7.

2013 Commencement2013 Commencement. See more Commencement photos here.The Class of 2013 enjoyed sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s for the outdoor event, in the campus Pavilion. Sunlight glinted off the rhinestones and other decorations on many of the graduates' mortarboards.

The ceremony included the first graduates from two new schools — the School of Sciences, and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences — and first student athlete to graduate. This year was the third for team sports, and basketball player Jacob Faust earned his degree in business.

John Applegate, IU Executive Vice President for University Regional Affairs, Planning, and Policy, congratulated the class, saying their education has prepared them to succeed in the world.

"As we celebrate the time-honored tradition of Commencement, you are poised to take your places among the next generation of business leaders, journalists, judges, artists, scientists, public health professionals, teachers, social workers, and government leaders," he said. "No matter what degree you have earned, you and your fellow graduates are now the torchbearers, poised to respond to and help shape our future."

Interim Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke highlighted the achievements of several graduates, including Shane Simmons and Lisa Ortega, who are the first in their families to graduate from college; Nick Sears, who graduated cancer-free after surgery and treatment in January 2013; and Shawn Owings, who was the first female medic to serve on the front line in Iraq. She asked all student veterans to stand for applause, and also honored international students and those who studied overseas during their college careers.

"Our students have come to us from very different backgrounds," she said. "They saw our campus as a place of opportunity. We know they are prepared to make a difference in this region. We couldn't be more proud of all of you."

Student body President Jeremy Gibson, from Kokomo, said the most important lesson he learned during his years on campus was how to think critically, and to apply what he learned outside the classroom.

"I encourage you to continue to seek knowledge that contradicts your beliefs, and to persist in the face of failure, because failure is also a learning opportunity," he said, "The world is changing, on our campus and in our state, country, and the world. We are the vanguard of change. We can make our mark on the world and make it a better place."

Registrar Stacey Thomas read the graduates' names as they crossed the stage to accept diplomas and handshakes from Applegate and Sciame-Giesecke. Each one also received applause, celebrating their accomplishment, and proud family members held up phones to take pictures.

The graduates burst into loud cheers as Applegate invited them to turn their tassels to the left, designating them as IU graduates, with the rights and responsibilities that go with that honor.

"The reputation of IU will depend upon your commitment to the values, knowledge, and skills you have learned here," he said.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.