Class of 2019
President McRobbie, Trustees, honored guests, family and friends, today marks IU Kokomo’s 50th Commencement ceremony. In that time, we have conferred degrees to over 14,000 graduates who now are making a difference in our local communities, our region, our state and our world. We look forward to all of today’s graduates joining them.
It is my honor and a privilege to introduce you today to the 679 members of the Class of 2019. The students represent 34 Indiana counties, 3 states, and 16 different countries.
As you will hear today, 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. They saw our campus as a place of tremendous opportunity and hope to pursue a better life. The faculty and staff, in turn, made a commitment to each student that they would support them in their journey no matter what path it would take. At IU Kokomo, we are grounded on the principle that every student matters here.
So, every hour, every day, students from all walks of life engaged in the same critical work with faculty – learning and discovering, turning information into action and tangible change, so when they leave us today we know they are prepared to make a difference in this region.
Graduates, as I look at each and every one of you, I am inspired by your personal stories and your successful journeys. I wish I had time today to share everyone’s story, but I know the few stories that I will share; will embody many of you.
Jocelyn Aguilar Castro, will you please stand? Jocelyn finished her classes in December and quickly found her place as a first-grade teacher at Logansport’s Landis Elementary School. This achievement didn’t come without sacrifice from her parents, who moved from Mexico to the United States to provide better opportunities for their family. As a first-generation college student, it was important for Jocelyn to make her parents proud and honor their hard work by earning her degree. As she walks across this stage today, she hopes to inspire her students and to show them that anything is possible. What is really cool is that I believe her students are watching her graduate today from their first grade classroom on our live stream.
Will all of our graduates, who like Jocelyn are the first in their families to graduate with a college degree…please stand.
Will Terri Butler and Susan Wilson please stand? Two long-time IU Kokomo employees decided it was their turn to earn a degree. Terri began working here in 1980 and Susan in 1994. They juggled full-time work as administrative assistants and focused on their studies. They have set an amazing example for the students they come in contact with every day by saying it’s never too late to earn your degrees.
Will all returning adult students like Susan and Terri please stand for our recognition?
Cameren Hinton will you please stand? Cameren, earning a degree in Informatics, serves in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and has done so for nearly 10 years. It was his lifelong goal to be in the armed forces after his father was in the Army. He’s served two short-term deployments to Southeast Asia before becoming a student at IU Kokomo. He works full time as an aircraft technician at Grissom Air Reserve Base, all while being a full-time student and a dad to four daughters.
I would like to recognize all of our graduates who have served in the armed forces. Will you please stand and join Cameren for our recognition?
Taylor Means will you please stand? Taylor started with us Fall 2016. She has earned her degree in three years. She earned 22 hours of dual credit in high school. She attended summer school, including one summer session when she completed 14 hours of credit. Her major is Allied Health Science with the Exercise and Sport Science concentration.
Now I know we have many more students who have completed their degrees in 3 or 4 years, still a great accomplishment – will you please stand for our recognition.
Some students have overcome major obstacles in their lives to complete their degree, just like Chelsea Fields. Chelsea, will you please stand?
It’s nothing short of a miracle that Chelsea is able to stand here today, much less earning her degree in Medical Imaging Technology. A horrific car accident her freshman year caused her to be in a coma and suffer a terrible neck and brain injury. Her brain injury meant minimal short-term memory, and loss of some mobility on the right side of her body. She was determined, though, not to let that slow down her journey to earning her degree. She says, “I don’t even have words to describe what this degree means to me. It fills my heart with joy.”
I know there are many more students who have overcome obstacles of all kinds to achieve their goal of a college degree, I hope as you sit here today and reflect on your journey that you know that we are proud of all of you and we know you will go on to accomplish your dreams.
And Jeffrey Grismore, please stand. Jeffrey, who served 4 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, interned at Fiat Chrysler Automotive last summer and will begin his job in one week as a production supervisor at FCA.
If you have landed a job upon graduation, would you please stand for recognition?
Dante Butler, will you please stand? Dante made his mark on the campus by restarting the Black Student Union. His goal was to promote Black culture at IU Kokomo. Students of all ethnic backgrounds are welcome to this group, to learn about another culture different from their own.
While earning a degree in sport and recreation management, Dante also played three seasons on the IU Kokomo men’s basketball team.
If you were involved in a student organization while on campus, please stand! And will all athletes who are graduating please stand?
Internships, externships and research projects with faculty provide a valuable applied learning opportunity in a student’s educational journey.
As a political science major, Jake LeDonne learned about the theories of government and world politics in his classes. Jake, would you please stand? As an intern with Logansport Mayor David Kitchell, he had an up close and personal look at how it works in real life. He worked in the mayor’s office five days a week, shadowing Kitchell as he conducted city business, talked to city residents, attended meetings, and collaborated with business leaders. The internship reinforced the reason he chose to earn a degree in political science.
Will Nimra Afreen and Alexandra Bailey please stand? Nimra and Alexandra are earning degrees in Biological and Physical Science. They may be “star struck” as they have had the unique experience of working alongside physics professor Patrick Motl doing research in astrophysics. This research project has not only challenged them, but allowed them to step outside their comfort zone. The project consisted of running computer simulations on the instability in stars where they developed mathematical models for older stars. The pair says they learned it’s OK to make mistakes and to be resilient and always double check their numbers.
Will all students who have participated in an internship, externship or research project, please stand for our recognition?
Olena Shumeiko came to IU Kokomo all the way from Ukraine to advance her career with a Masters of Business Administration degree. Olena, will you please stand?
With a specialization in finance, she’s enjoyed working with faculty members, and also serving as vice president of the M.B.A. Association. Olena wants to work in financial services, based either in the United States or Ukraine.
Will Nurse Practitioner students who traveled with professor JR Pico and Dr. Mary Steinke to Columbia this semester please stand? These advanced nursing students provided medical services and needed supplies and clothing to children throughout the country. They gave fluoride treatments, dermatology consultations, wellness screenings and donated over $1,000 worth of clothing, toothpaste and brushes and food.
If you are an international student or have traveled internationally, please stand to be recognized.
Now many of our students will leave here today and continue their educational journey in graduate school.
Douglas Carter will you please stand? He is a history and political science major, and has been offered a full scholarship to earn a Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina – his top choice school. He was one of 16 students selected from 184 applicants for the program – one of the top-ranked in the country.
Jacob Castleberry, will you please stand? A Humanities major with a concentration in philosophy, he will be attending Western Michigan University for his master’s in philosophy on a full ride scholarship!
Madison Weimer will you please stand? Madison is earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. She will be going to Purdue University for a Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis.
I know there are many more students headed to graduate or professional schools, will you please stand, too?
As I stated earlier, I wish I could share more stories with all of you because you would continue to be impressed. Today, our graduates will receive an Indiana University diploma. As you can see, all of our students have worked hard to earn this prestigious degree that commands respect and instills pride.
Graduates, on behalf of all of us, we couldn’t be more proud.
Best wishes to you, Class of 2019.