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Graduates excited for career advancement, family pride at Commencement

May 7, 2024
A graphic grid of individual pictures of two women and three men
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KOKOMO, Ind. — As a newly minted college graduate, Stella Damilola Olayiwola celebrated not only for herself, but for her family.

“It means so much to me,” said Olaywola, who was among the more than 400 graduates honored at Indiana University Kokomo’s Commencement on Tuesday (May 7).

“I am the first in my generation to be graduating from university,” she said, “They are all very proud of me.”

While her mother is still in Nigeria, her father and siblings were in the audience to watch her cross the stage and accept her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Her future plans include working as a labor and delivery nurse at an Indianapolis hospital.

The best part of her IU Kokomo experience was the community she built around her.

“At a small school, everyone has friendships and closeness,” she said. “The teachers are always willing to help the students. I like the relationships among students.”

Many of Tuesday’s graduates had similar stories of career dreams, making their families proud by earning degrees, and of friends and faculty who supported them in achieving their goals.

Michael Sommers looks forward to being a leader in the Maconaquah School Corporation with his master’s degree in education, specifically in educational technology for learning. He serves as the coordinator of instructional technology at his school.

“I learned a lot that will help teachers in my district,” he said, adding that he came back to IU Kokomo “to learn more and gain the knowledge needed for my role, and to help other teachers.”

Sommers, from Walton, also feels he’s setting an example for students by continuing to learn new skills and earn an additional degree, after previously completing his bachelor’s degree at IU Kokomo.

“It was a new experience with some new faculty, and it was just as great as my undergrad was,” he said. “The faculty here is so great at making sure you understand things. They always make sure you have support in what you are doing.”

Like Sommers, Isabella Rolston looks forward to career advancement with her Associate of Science in Radiography.

“It’s very exciting,” the Anderson resident said. “I get to take my boards soon, and then I can become a licensed technologist.” She works at IU Health North Hospital and the Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center.

Rolston will continue her education starting this summer, entering the Bachelor of Medical Imaging Technology program at IU Kokomo.

The best part of her experience was “just making new friends and today, getting to graduate.”

Peter Davis hopes to build his career in accounting by earning his Master of Business Administration (MBA), but said he also earned it for personal satisfaction.

“It means a lot to me,” said Davis, from Kokomo, noting that he previously earned a bachelor’s degree from IU Kokomo’s School of Business, and had another positive experience.

“It’s been great,” he said. “It’s probably the most fun I’ve had in my college career.”

Dominic Bauer, Kokomo, is considering his career options with his degree in history and political science, while also playing semi-professional soccer in the Kokomo Vipers’ inaugural season.

“It means a lot to me to earn my degree,” he said. “Both of my parents are college graduates and veterans. It feels important to be a college graduate myself. I’m proud of my accomplishments.”

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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Erin Witt, director of media and marketing

Danielle Rush, communications specialist

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