KOKOMO, Ind. — With great applause and pageantry, Indiana University Kokomo celebrated the success of its Class of 2022 at its 53rd annual Commencement today (May 11).
The festivities began even before the 693 graduates entered the Pavilion for the ceremony, as faculty lined the Cougar Commons, cheering and clapping as the graduates processed past them to the outdoor ceremony.
IU President Pamela Whitten welcomed the graduates, drawing a loud cheer when she asked them, “Are you ready to graduate?” after her greeting.
Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke congratulated the class highlighting that IU Kokomo has conferred degrees to more than 16,000 graduates, and that the campus has been the main source for higher education in north central Indiana for nearly 80 years.
“Our students come from very different backgrounds with very different goals and very different stories,” she said. “What I have noticed is that each 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.”
In her final Commencement as chancellor, Sciame-Giesecke, who will now oversee IU regional campuses and online education, continued her tradition of sharing success stories of individual students as representative of the class.
She applauded Shelby Friend, who grew up in foster care and earned a degree in biological and physical sciences, on her way to veterinary school. Friend joined the U.S. Army National Guard, which is allowing her to graduate debt free.
She highlighted Jean Redfern, who is the first in her family to graduate from college. Redfern was born in Thailand and moved to the U.S. in elementary school, speaking little English. She hopes to be a web administrator, after completing a degree in informatics.
Sciame-Giesecke also shared Shailyn Nash’s success as an artist, with a series of paintings depicting the relationship between the Black community and its natural hair. Her work went viral on Twitter when she posted it leading up to her senior exhibition.
She also celebrated Logan Cox, who graduated with a degree in biological and physical sciences in three years, Ross Filbrun, accepted to the IU School of Medicine, Gabriela Jaimes, who came from California to play soccer and earn a degree in health sciences, Tifany Burnett, who is going to a Ph.D. program in mathematics, and Grace Marshall, who landed a job before graduating.
“I wish I could share each student’s story with all of you, because you would continue to be impressed,” she said. “I know by sharing a few, you have a good picture of the leaders we are graduating today.”
Master of Business Administration graduate Paola Cubides, from Bogotá, Colombia, represented the class as student speaker. She compared life to a Rubik’s cube, neatly put together at first, and hard to solve.
“After completing my master’s, I feel like I am the solved Rubik’s cube,” Cubides said. “Everything I have learned while at IU Kokomo has been a twist and turn, revealing triumphs and failures.
“Today, all of our Rubik’s cubes are solved,” she continued. “We will move on to new places, new jobs, new cities, and the cube will be scrambled yet again. However, smile at this new opportunity because we already know how to solve it.”
The highlight of the ceremony was conferral of degrees, with each graduate turning his or her tassel from right to left, to show they had graduated. Then, all graduates had an individual moment to shine, crossing the Pavilion stage to receive a diploma from the chancellor.
Nathaniel Moore, a biochemistry major from Kokomo, led the singing of the National Anthem and Alma Mater. Biochemistry graduate Mary-Matalyn Tom, Carmel, represented the class during induction into the IU Alumni Association.
Whitten also congratulated the graduates, noting they have excelled in the classroom and made the campus a better place through their service.
“All of us at IU are proud of what you have accomplished, and we will be equally proud as you make your mark on the world in the coming years,” she said. “May you apply the skills and knowledge you have gained at IU to build rewarding and fulfilling lives. Strive to continue to learn in new ways. And may you seek and find new ways to turn the knowledge you have gained here into action — and to turn action into change that will improve our world in countless ways.”