Class of 2022
President Whitten, Trustees, and honored guests, it is an honor and a privilege to introduce you to the 693 members of the Class of 2022. The students represent 41 Indiana counties, 13 states, and 18 different countries.
Today marks our 53rd Commencement ceremony. In that time, we have conferred degrees to more than 16,000 graduates who have gone out into our region, state, and world to make a difference. But even more than that, IU Kokomo has been the main source for higher education in north central Indiana for nearly 80 years.
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. The best way I know how to introduce this class is to tell a few of their stories and I know all of you will be inspired that our future leaders are with us today. 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.
Shelby Friend, will you please stand?
Growing up in foster care, Shelby knew that education was her way to a better life — but she also didn’t want to graduate with overwhelming student loan debt.
She joined the U.S. Army National Guard and is now a vehicle mechanic while going to school full time. Today, she completes her degree in biological and physical sciences.
Her next step is applying to veterinary schools, and she plans to continue her military service.
Will all of our graduates who have served in the armed forces please stand and join Shelby for our recognition?
Jean Redfern, will you please stand? Jean is proud to be the first in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree.
She has overcome many challenges to become the first in her family to graduate from college. Born in Thailand, she moved to the United States during elementary school, knowing very little English. Jean worked as many as three jobs at a time, supporting herself through college. She is especially proud of having been on the chancellor’s list for earning a 4.0 GPA.
Jean plans a career as a network administrator, as she receives her degree in informatics today.
Will all of our graduates, who like Jean, are the first in their families to graduate with a college degree… please stand for our recognition?
Will Shailyn Nash please stand?
When Shailyn posted a couple of pictures on Twitter from her senior art exhibition, she hoped her 100 followers might like to see it. Her paintings were entitled Our Hair, Our Story,My Story, which depicts the relationship the Black Community has with its natural hair.
Within hours, she had more than 32,000 retweets and 191,000 likes on Twitter.
With her New Media and Technology degree, she plans to be a professional artist.
If you participated in an applied learning experience like Shailyn, such as a creative art exhibit or a research project with a faculty member, an internship or took a KEY trip while at IUK please stand for our recognition.
Most college students aspire to complete their degree in four years. However, we always see a few overachievers… like Logan Cox – will you please stand? Logan completed her degree in biological and physical sciences in 3 years.
It was a daunting but doable program, and now gives her time to take a gap year before beginning a physician’s assistant program.
Gabriela Jaimes (Heymez) will you stand and join Logan? Gabriela chose IU Kokomo specifically because of the opportunity to play college soccer. She came all the way from California. The small classes helped her focus on her success in the classroom, as well as on the field. Her goal is to return to her home state of California to attend graduate school and pursue a career in sports physical therapy.
She completed her degree in health sciences on time in 4 years. I know we also have many students this year that pushed hard to complete their degrees in 4 years or less. If you finished your degree in 4 years or less would you please stand for our recognition.
Our students never cease to amaze me with their desire to learn even more and take the next step to graduate and professional schools.
Ross Filbrun is one of those students. Ross has been laser-focused on acceptance into the IU School of Medicine for the last three years, while earning his degree in biological and physical sciences. In September 2021 his efforts paid off, with admission to the IU School of Medicine’s Lafayette campus – his first choice.
And then there’s Tifany Burnett – will you please stand? The challenges Tifany has faced while earning degrees in mathematics and biochemistry inspired her to become a math professor. When you factor in that she has dyslexia, her story is even more inspiring. She will take the next step toward her goal with her acceptance to the Doctorate program in Mathematics at Purdue University.
I know there are many more students headed to graduate or professional schools, will you please stand, too for our recognition?
Now finally, once you’ve graduated, the hope for many is to find a job, right? Grace Marshall is one of those who has #landed a job! Grace, will you please stand?
Grace began working in her chosen field even before completing her degree in public administration health care management.
She serves as a tobacco prevention coordinator at the Jay County Drug Prevention Coalition, where she works with city and county government, schools, housing facilities, and workplaces, trying to prevent people from beginning to use tobacco.
She says her public administration policy classes have especially helped her, as she’s working with lawmakers to pass a smoke-free air policy in Jay County.
In the future Grace wants to earn an M.B.A., with a goal of becoming executive director of a not-for-profit organization focused on health issues. Will all the students who have a job ready upon graduation please stand with her for our recognition?
As I stated earlier, I wish I could share each student’s story with all of you because you would continue to be impressed. But I know that by sharing a few stories with others joining in, you have a good picture of the leaders that we are graduating today.
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. President Whitten, I present to you the class of 2022.