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Class of 2024 celebrated at IUK Commencement

May 7, 2024
Graduates stand in rows with confetti
More Commencement pictures here

KOKOMO, Ind. — Impending rain could not dampen the celebratory spirit during the 55th annual Indiana University Kokomo Commencement on Tuesday (May 7).

Clouds loomed overhead as nearly 430 graduates processed from the Main Building through the Quad to the Pavilion, cheered by faculty, staff, and friends eager to celebrate their accomplishments. Family members called to their graduates, including one little boy overcome with excitement when his mother waved at him from the line.

IU President Pamela Whitten and Chancellor Mark Canada welcomed everyone to the ceremony, thanking friends, family, faculty, and staff for their support and care for the graduating class.

Graduate Andrea Méndez Rodríguez was the lone speaker in the ceremony, abbreviated to ensure that every graduate was recognized before anticipated rain and thunderstorms Tuesday morning. An international student, she began with an “Hola, Mama!” for her mother, who came from Spain to attend her daughter’s commencement.

She recalled beginning her biochemistry degree at IU Kokomo “filled with both excitement and trepidation,” and reluctant to step out of her comfort zone. Faculty mentors and friends provided guidance and encouraged her to gain new skills — including public speaking, which she initially thought wouldn’t be important to her as a scientist.

“With each experience, I discovered a newfound confidence and resilience within myself, and I am sure many of you have had the same experience and have overcome similar obstacles,” Méndez Rodríguez said. “I am a testament to the transformative power of embracing new skills.”

She encouraged classmates to learn and grow, and not shy away from acquiring new skills, even if they seem unrelated to their chosen path.

“So let us not limit ourselves to preconceived notions or self-imposed boundaries,” she said. “Instead, let us embrace the unknown with open hearts and open minds, knowing that every experience, every challenge, and every skill acquired will shape us into the leaders and innovators of tomorrow.

“And may we always remember that the greatest growth often lies just beyond our comfort zones,” she continued. “Go beyond your limits and become the innovators of tomorrow.”

The highlight of the ceremony was the introduction of the graduates by Scott Jones, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, as each one crossed the stage to receive congratulations from the chancellor.

Then, with fanfare by the IU brass quintet and a spray of red and white streamers from a confetti cannon, President Whitten conferred degrees and invited graduates to turn their tassels and throw their caps high in celebration.

The ceremony also included awarding IU’s Distinguished Service Medal to Susan Sciame-Giesecke, vice president for regional campuses and online education, to honor her retirement. IU Kokomo’s chancellor from 2014 to 2022, she served most of her IU career as a faculty member and administrator at Kokomo.

Madesynn Freeman, Kokomo, led the singing of the National Anthem and alma mater. Education graduate Hannah Sandefur, Kokomo, represented the class during induction into the IU Alumni Association.

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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