KOKOMO, Ind. — Under perfect sunny blue skies, Indiana University Kokomo celebrated the achievements of the Class of 2023 at its 54th Commencement.
More than 400 graduates processed from the Main Building through the Quad, where faculty lined both sides of the sidewalk, cheering and applauding, as they made their way to the ceremony at the Pavilion.
President Pamela Whitten welcomed the graduates, their families, and friends, to “a glorious day for graduation,” congratulating them on their “momentous accomplishment.”
Chancellor Mark Canada encouraged the graduates to follow in the footsteps of the previous 16,000 IU Kokomo graduates who have gone out into the world to make a difference.
“Making a difference is exactly what we want you to do in this next chapter of your lives,” he said. “Knowledge and skills are critical when it comes to making a difference. It’s actually pretty simple: the more you know, the more you can do to improve your communities.”
He continued a campus tradition of sharing graduate success stories and inviting individuals and groups to stand for recognition.
He highlighted the accomplishments of student-athletes like Brandon Clarke, a baseball player who majored in exercise and sport science, who plans to go to graduate school to become a college professor; and Air Force veteran Trisha Norfleet, who served with the 434th Civil Engineering Squadron and completed a degree in psychology.
He also applauded students who are the first in their family to complete a college degree, like Anahi Santos, who earned a degree in criminal justice while serving as a cadet for the IU Police Department, and who is on her way to the IU Police Academy; Lia Roudebush, who gained leadership experience with the Women in Business student organization; student worker Jasper Redman, a future graduate student in library and information science; and Wesley Grove, who has landed a job with his computer science degree.
He urged the graduates, whether they earned one degree or more, to use their IU Kokomo education to make a difference, and to take action.
“The world needs you,” Canada concluded. “Your IU Kokomo education has provided you with an amazing array of skills and knowledge. Put it all to work. The world will be better because of you.”
Communication graduate Andrea Lee Saylor spoke on behalf of the class, sharing how she fell away from tennis when her father, who was her coach, died when she was 12. When she started playing again, IU Kokomo tennis coach Kristine Miller recruited her, allowing her the opportunity to start over, and find her way in the classroom and on the court.
She referenced The Phoenix sculpture on campus, and the legend of the phoenix rising from the ashes, asking her classmates to view Commencement as a lift-off.
“I call on you all to once again look around, embrace the ashes, find your why. And then go on, live every day with intention, no excuses, no explanations, no regrets. Because the time is now, the time is always, and it is your time to spread your wings and fly.”
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.
Molly Shannon Lewis, a business major from Kokomo, led the singing of the National Anthem and alma mater. Psychology graduate Trisha Norfleet, Kokomo, represented the class during induction into the IU Alumni Association.
Whitten congratulated the graduates on their next step in the IU family, a community that supports and encourages its members to grow and learn, discover their passions, meet new people, and create lifelong memories.
“As you move into the next chapter of your life, remember the lessons you have learned and the relationships you have formed here,” she said. “Cherish these memories and take them with you wherever you go. May you continue to care for one another and develop and exercise your commitment to serving others. And remember that you will always be part of the Indiana University family.”