KOKOMO, Ind. — As a young woman straight out of high school, Emily Riddle became a licensed practical nurse, putting her dream of a bachelor’s degree on hold to enter the workforce.
Tuesday, Riddle’s dream came to fruition, as she earned her Bachelor of Science in Business from Indiana University Kokomo. An internship with a local accounting firm led to a job offer before she even graduated, and she starts in late summer, after she passes her Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam.
“The best decision I ever made was to come here,” said Riddle, who also earned the outstanding student award from the School of Business. “IU Kokomo has been wonderful to my family and me. It was important to me to have a bachelor’s degree, rather than the technical certificate I had.”
The Kokomo resident is thankful for support from her family, including her husband and mother, who helped her care for her two children, ages 5 and 2, as she completed her degree. Riddle said the children don’t remember time she wasn’t in school.
“I’m glad they can finally realize that homework is not my favorite thing to do,” she said.
The Commencement ceremony celebrated dreams achieved for more than 600 students, who marked the joyous occasion with friends and family first at the Kokomo Event Center, and then with a reception on campus.
For Lyndsay Christensen, it marks halfway point to achieving her dream of being a doctor. Christensen, from Fairmount, gained admission to the IU School of Medicine while earning her Bachelor of Science in Business, just as she had planned when she enrolled as a freshman.
“I got to have a lot of experiences I wouldn’t have had at another school,” she said, including working three years as a medical scribe at a local hospital, and serving as a patient care technician, working directly with nurses.
“They recruited us directly from the School of Sciences. It’s one of the best opportunities I have had here,” she said, adding that as the winner of the Adam W. Herbert Presidential Scholarship, which covers full tuition for four years, she begins medical school debt free.
Zachary Cox, from Kokomo, was pleased to share the occasion with his family, who encouraged him to complete his degree in criminal justice.
“I’m the first in my family to graduate from college, so that was my motivation,” he said. “It’s just exciting for this day to be here.”
He’s applied at several law enforcement agencies, and is being considered for a few jobs.
Friends inspired Joseph Eakright as he earned his degree in biology.
“I found a group of friends, and we all met in a lounge on campus, to study, and pal around, and do assignments together,” said Eakright, from Wabash. “I was happy to have that environment, and that support.”
Eakright wants to work in biology research, and eventually return for a master’s degree.
Education graduates Jessica Wells, from Bringhurst, and Stellina Deck and Erin Soutar, both Russiaville residents, relied on their teaching cohort as they progressed through the School of Education.
“We’ve all become really good friends through our journey,” Soutar said. “It’s great to have each other’s backs.” She also appreciated support from her grandparents, who helped her graduate debt-free.
Kokomo resident Alan Weimer is pursuing his dream of working in law enforcement, after earning his degree in criminal justice. He’s started the hiring process, and hopes to be working by mid-summer.
“All this hard work we’ve put in the last four years, it’s awesome seeing it come together, and lead to today,” he said.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.