KOKOMO, Ind. – A celebration of hard work.
That’s how Justin Lambrecht, member of the Indiana University Kokomo Class of 2019, described Tuesday’s (May 7) Commencement ceremony.
“It’s just a culmination of the hard work I’ve put in to get my degree, and the work it took in high school to get to IU Kokomo,” said Lambrecht, who earned a degree in informatics.
Now the next round of hard work begins, the Peru resident, said, as he seeks his first job in his career field.
The graduates, who earned a record-breaking 686 degrees, commemorated their achievements with family and friends in a ceremony in the Kokomo Event and Conference Center.
Excitement filled the air before the ceremony, as they gathered to prepare for the ceremony, and spend time with classmates one final time before leaving as graduates.
For Ashley Hawkins, Commencement meant proving people wrong.
“I was always told I couldn’t do college because of a reading disability,” she said. “I was told I wasn’t going to get anywhere, so this means a lot to me.”
She transferred from another school, and after five years of college, is happy to be interviewing for her first job after completing a bachelor’s in medical imaging technology.
Laura White and Katie French, who both earned degrees in elementary education, look forward to beginning careers as teachers this fall. White said the day is also about celebrating the friends and experiences that have been part of their time at IU Kokomo.
“Today means all of our hard work has paid off, and I finally get to do something I’ve wanted to do my whole life,” said White, adding that she just returned from student teaching in Ireland.
“I’ve had so many opportunities I would not have had at a bigger school,” she said. “I’ve made so many amazing friends, in my classes and on campus.”
For Madison Weimer and Natalia Flores, graduation marks one more step toward their desired careers. Both plan on graduate school, to become board certified behavioral analysts and work with children who have autism.
“I’ve been waiting for this for years,” said Flores, who moved from Chesterton to Kokomo to earn her degree in sociology. She feels well-prepared to succeed at the next level and in her career.
“I’ve had so many diverse classes,” she said. “It’s prepared me to be able to relate to a lot of people on different levels. I can relate to people way better than I used to, and I understand people better too.”
Sameer Karali also hopes to go to graduate school, to continue his education in informatics.
“Today is a celebration,” he said. “I came all the way from Saudi Arabia to study here, and I’m really happy.”
Other graduates celebrated beginning careers, or continuing those they’ve already established.
Isaac Badry, Peru, will put his psychology degree to use running the pressure washing business he started with his brother-in-law. Having a college degree paves the way for those who come behind him, he said.
“I want to set a good example for my family,” he said. “I want to show them the importance of earning a degree. You can do a lot in life with a college degree.”
Hartford City resident Tim Williams earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, returning to school after receiving a job promotion that required him to have more than his associate degree. He can now continue advancing in his 13-year career.
“For me, today means it’s never too late to start a new journey,” he said, adding that he first became a Licensed Practical Nurse.
“Being older, I think I appreciate this more than I might have when I was 24,” he said.Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana