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Celebrating the Class of 2019

As Indiana University graduates enter the next chapter of their lives, we honor the legacies they will leave behind

Apr 22, 2019

Description of the following video:

[Video: A series of smiling students appear onscreen.]

[Voiceover:] Every student at IU has a different narrative and life journey. You all come from diverse communities … 

[Video: A map of the midwest with a red flag sticking out of northwestern Indiana.]

… all over Indiana … 

[Video: A panoramic shot of the Statue of Liberty.]

… all over the United States … 

[Video: A pagoda with Mount Fuji in the distance.]

… all over the world … 

[Video: Drone shots of campus landmarks and buildings from various Indiana University campuses.]

… yet you were drawn to something about Indiana University. Your stories collide, if only for a moment. 

[Video: Students walk across a pedestrian bridge. A man types at his computer behind a cluttered desk.]

Your dreams may differ … 

[Video: A student wearing protective goggles performs an experiment. A student tees off on a golf course. Three students talk in front of the IUPUI Campus Center.]

… but you will still be unified in reaching for your goals. 

[Video: Two students wearing IU Dance Marathon T-shirts talk. A closeup of hands typing on a keyboard.]

And if in the future … 

[Video: A perplexed-looking student scratches her head as she looks at her laptop screen.]

… you ever begin to question … 

[Video: An IU basketball player misses a three-point shot during a game.]

… the worthiness of your ambitions … 

[Video: A ballet dancer dances and then falls.]

consider that the beauty of life is not in never falling … 

[Video: The ballet dancer stands up and pirouettes.]

… but rather in rising each time you fall. 

[Video: A closeup shot of the ballet dancer’s face and arms as she dances on pointe.]

Today is an opportunity to celebrate you … 

[Video: Parents and a student get out of a white SUV in front of a residence hall. They unload luggage from the back of the SUV and carry it to the residence hall.]

… to honor your achievements, and to acknowledge the many family members and friends whose support has helped each of you earn a degree. 

[Video: The student and her mom hug tearfully.]

Where are you going next? 

[Video: Several students walk near a lake on a fall day. Closeup of a student’s foot splashing in a puddle.]

The uncertainty. 

[Video: Closeup of a student wearing a hat and a nose ring, looking off into the distance.]

The future can feel overwhelming and intimidating …

[Video: A waterfall. A student with cerebral palsy writes on a whiteboard.]

… but take solace in knowing you are capable …

[Video: The student grasps his arm with his other hand]

… of overcoming any challenges presented to you. 

[Video: Closeup of a hand holding a paintbrush while working on a painting. A smiling student stands in front of an IUPUI Jaguars sign.]

Wherever your next steps take you … 

[Video: A closeup of a student working on a project in a library.]

… your education at IU has prepared you as no other could. 

[Video: Six students with laptops and notebooks sit around a table talking.]

It has opened the doors … 

[Video: An outside shot of students opening a building’s doors.]

… through which you are now walking into your future.

[Video: The students walk out of the building. Time-lapse photography of two students studying.]

It can be easy to get caught in this hamster wheel where the monotony of life tricks you into thinking …  

[Video: A young child wearing a backpack runs down the sidewalk in front of a house as his parents look on, smiling.]

… I’ll be happy when I have a big house … 

[Video: Closeup of a hand passing a diploma to another hand, followed by a handshake.]

… a graduate degree …

[Video: A woman types on a laptop while sitting at a table on a porch.]

… or a dream job.

[Video: A student carrying a notebook and pen walks down a library aisle, selects a book, and then sits at a table to study.]

Rather than waiting for the future chapters, hang onto every word of your story as it’s being written in real time. 

[Video: A group dances on a stage in front of Showalter Fountain on the IU Bloomington campus. Students dance as the Marching Hundred plays.]

Feel how vibrant and enriching life can be …

[Video: A cheerleader holds up a sign that says “RED” in front of a large IU flag.]

… if you savor the flavor of this very moment, this very heartbeat … 

[Video: A student wearing an IU hat smiles as he watches something off camera.]

… these very people around you.

[Video: A crowd cheers at an IU basketball game. A diploma prints on a laser printer.]

Your diploma signifies a remarkable life achievement. 

[Video: A hand removes the diploma from the printer. The framed diploma is carried to a wall and hung.]

It characterizes your vision, your dedication, and your determination. 

[Video: The view from the back of a science classroom.]

It represents the countless hours spent … 

[Video: Two students speak in front of a round table as they’re being recorded by a TV camera.]

… both in and out of the classroom … 

[Video: The IUPUI mascot carries his Jawz head down a hallway, followed by cheerleaders.]

… studying … 

[Video: Four students with laptops, beverages, and mobile phones talk as they relax at a table.]

… writing …

[Video: Closeup of hands typing on a laptop.]

… researching … 

[Video: Two students wearing safety goggles look at a computer screen. A student joins another student at a table in a coffee shop, where they examine a paper together.]

… and solving problems with fellow students. 

[Video: Two students are helped into their Commencement robes.]

As you celebrate the completion of this chapter of your lives …

[Video: Commencement attendees walk through a parking lot. Graduates walk onto the Assembly Hall floor.]

… we would challenge each of you to consider … 

[Video: A thoughtful student wearing a red tie and carrying his Commencement robe walks past a fence, then waits in a hallway as a woman adjusts his robe.]

… what your legacy will be.

[Video: A large sign that reads “Graduate Entrance” hangs above the doors to a building.]

What pieces of this campus will you take with you into your future endeavors? 

[Video: Graduates wait in a hallway, then applaud from their seats. A graduate receives his diploma.]

What experiences as an IU graduate … 

[Video: A graduate hugs a friend as another graduate looks on.]

… have shaped the person you have become? 

[Video: Two graduates hug. A series of graduates switch their mortarboard tassels from one side to the other.]

Today we celebrate the conferral of degrees but we also celebrate your individually unique identities … 

[Video: A graduate blows a kiss to the audience as she crosses the stage.]

… and the legacies you will each leave behind. 

[Video: The IU trident appears.]

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IU Bloomington: Krishna Pathak

“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”

Krishna Pathak standing outside the Sample Gates

This quote from John F. Kennedy encompasses why Indiana University senior Krishna Pathak has felt drawn to public service for the majority of his life.

The law and public policy major in IU’s O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs has interned for Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton, for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, at the U.S. Department of Defense and the at U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He was elected at 18 as the youngest delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention from Indiana, and this year, he will be presenting the student address at IU’s spring commencement ceremony.

Read Pathak’s story

IUPUI: Sunnih Flores

Psychology Today claims it only takes seven seconds for first impressions to be cemented in a person’s mind. Judgments are then quickly made.

Sunnih Flores

IUPUI made a positive first impression on Sunnih Flores, a human resources and business management major in line to graduate in May, during her tour as an incoming first-year student.

“I noticed the amount of care that they put with their interactions here right away, and the engagement they had on a micro and macro level,” Flores said. “They accommodated me as a scared incoming freshman. And the tunnels helped a lot. I’m always cold, so I really like the tunnels.”

Read Flores’ story 

IUPUC: Elzbieta Bidwell

When Elzbieta Bidwell receives her Bachelor of General Studies degree from IUPUC, she will be thinking back.

Elzbieta Bidwell

She achieved her degree to honor her parents, whose own dreams of higher education were crushed when the Germans and Soviets invaded Poland in 1939. Her parents met shortly after World War II in a displaced persons camp in Bad Saulgau, Germany, where Bidwell was later born.

She is using the writing and research skills she has acquired at IUPUC to document the history of her parents’ time in forced labor camps during the war – including Auschwitz, Birkenau, Mauthausen and Natzweiler-Struthof, as well as Schomberg for her father – and to tell her own story of emigration, first to Australia and ultimately to the United States.

Read Bidwell’s story:

IU Northwest: Jesus Fajardo

When Jesus Fajardo graduates from IU Northwest, the 22-year-old from Hammond, Indiana, will be both proud and thankful. 

Jesus Fajardo

He’s proud of tackling the rigorous course of study necessary to receive a bachelor’s degree in nursing. He’s thankful for the never-ending support that poured in from every direction while he pursued his studies. 

But Fajardo isn’t done yet. He will return to IU Northwest in the fall to complete his prerequisites for medical school while also working part time as a nurse. His ultimate goal is to become a cardiothoracic surgeon in the U.S. and return to his hometown in Michoacán, Mexico, to open a clinic.

Read Fajardo’s story ​

IU East: Breanna Nowak

Breanna “Bre” Nowak is this year’s Naomi Osborne Scholar, an honor given to the IU East graduate with the highest grade-point average, and will lead the graduating class during the alumni induction ceremony.


She will receive a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and has been accepted to the IU School of Medicine, which she plans to attend in the fall.

Nowak came to IU East as a freshman from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin – the first Red Wolf student-athlete from the state.

She became the first IU East golfer to earn All-America honors during a memorable week in May 2018. It was there that she celebrated a birthday and then finished in 10th place at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ Women’s Golf National Championship in Florida. She made the national event’s all-tournament team, an honor that includes automatic qualification for the national tournament in May.

Read Nowak’s story

IU Kokomo: Jocelyn Aguilar Castro

Before they became parents, José and Maria Aguilar made a hard choice: They left behind their family and farm in Mexico, willing to start over to give their future children a better life in the United States.

Jocelyn Aquilar in the classroom.

Because of that sacrifice, and the long hours they’ve worked at a Logansport pork processing plant, their daughter, Jocelyn Aguilar Castro, now teaches first-graders after earning a degree in elementary education from Indiana University Kokomo. 

Commencement on May 7 will be an emotional day for the family, as they see the culmination of all their sacrifices when Aguilar Castro crosses the stage to receive her diploma.

“I just know if I look out in the crowd and see their faces, I’m going to start crying,” said Aguilar Castro, who completed her degree in December. “My parents worked hard with their hands so I could work with my brain and achieve all of my dreams. I’m just very happy to get this far with their support and their love. It really does mean the world to me.”

Read Aguilar Castro’s story

IU South Bend: Juan-Carlos Alarcon

Juan-Carlos Alarcon, a senior music education major at IU South Bend, was featured on an album that won three Grammys this year and hopes to continue using his gift of music to inspire others.

Juan-Carlos Alarcon

The album, ”American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom” by John Daversa Big Band, was developed to raise awareness and offer support to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, also known as Dreamers.

Alarcon, who was born in Mexico and grew up in Elkhart, played percussion, piano and pipe organ on the album, in addition to contributing a monologue about his experience as a Dreamer. After graduation, he plans to work as a music teacher and continue spreading his passion for music as a way to connect people from all walks of life.

Read Alarcon’s story

IU Southeast: Miranda Ochoa

Miranda Ochoa, an IU Southeast business student from Richmond, Indiana, served as a resident assistant for two years and said the experience introduced her to people from all over the world who “built a small community” in the campus lodges. “I have made lifelong friends because of living on campus.”

Miranda Ochoa

She also worked as a peer mentor for three years, helping first-year students transition to college by offering guidance and advice.

Ochoa, a member of the Marketing Club and the National Society for Leadership and Success, is one of eight students to receive the 2019 Chancellor’s Medallion Scholarship, which recognizes outstanding students for their academic achievement and leadership potential. She will also be the student commencement speaker for IU Southeast.

After graduation, she hopes to stay in Southern Indiana and work in a marketing or sales position in the radio industry.

Read Ochoa’s story

IU Online: Tracy Dawson

When looking to pursue higher education, Tracy Dawson found the academic quality and flexibility she needed at IU Online.

Tracy Dawson

“The flexibility online learning afforded my family was phenomenal,” said Dawson, a mother of two who was named the Outstanding Student in Psychology for 2018-19 academic year. “I was able to earn my degree and still be there for my kids.”

Dawson also credits her success to the number and range of courses offered through IU Online, as well as her advisor and professors who went above and beyond to make her feel she was truly a part of IU.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a minor in neuroscience, Dawson plans to take a year off to work in a school setting. She then wants to pursue a graduate degree in school psychology or school counseling.

Read Dawson’s story

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