After years of commitment and dedication to their studies, students of Calumet College of St. Joseph celebrated their hard earned graduation Saturday afternoon in Hammond. Though the weather threatened storms and rain fell, nothing could stop the smiles and laughter of those about to receive their degrees.
The ceremony took place in the Dennis and Leslie Rittenmeyer Athletic Center on the Calumet College of St. Joseph campus. Nearly 400 graduates and their families filled the center to celebrate all of their hard work and the recognition they were about to receive.
Commencement began with a processional led by faculty, followed by graduates receiving Associates degrees. The graduates receiving their Bachelors degrees then made their way to their seats, and the processional was concluded with the line of graduates receiving their Masters degrees.
After the processional, an invocation was led by V. Rev. Larry J. Hemmelgarn, the Provincial Director of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.
“We come together as family, faculty, administrators, community, and friends to celebrate the accomplishments of the 2017 graduating class,” Hemmelgarn said.
Before graduates crossed the stage to receive their diplomas, Earline Rogers, former representative of the City of Gary in the Indiana House of Representatives and former member of the Indiana Senate, addressed the graduates and their families. She provided valuable advice to everyone in attendance on such an inspirational day.
“Know who you are,” Rogers said. “Be clear about your deepest commitment. Be true to your values. Be clear and even insistent if necessary, but nonetheless, gentle and fair.”
It truly was a day of accomplishment and celebration as 16 people accepted their Associates Degrees, 272 accepted Bachelors degrees, and 90 more received Masters Degrees in their various programs. Cheers could be heard from the crowd as graduates crossed the stage to accept their diploma and shake hands with their professors.
Each of the co-valedictorians also address the class, beginning with Jennifer Diaz who received her Bachelor of Science in Forensic Biotechnology. She presented the class with a challenge, believing that though their journey at Calumet College of St. Joseph had ended, their work in the world had not.
“We have the skills to make extraordinary changes in the world, so I challenge all the graduates to work hard towards creating a better future for everyone,” Diaz said.
Diaz’s co-valedictorian, Graham Federico, received his Bachelor of Science in Organization Management. He tearfully thanked his wife and family for their support, then summed up the feelings of amazement and pride of the entire room in one short sentence.
“Wow, we did it,” Federico stated.
After degrees were handed to each student and the commencement ceremony ended, family and friends were welcomed to gather and celebrate. Pictures, laughs, and hugs were in abundance as everyone trickled into the surrounding buildings and parking lots. Many celebrated the accomplishment with faculty as well, thanking them for their guidance and wisdom over the years. But most importantly, each student celebrated the end of a journey and the beginning of a new one.
“This is the completion of something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Patrick Ohlinger, after receiving his Bachelors in Public Safety Management. “Calumet College of St. Joseph was fantastic. Very helpful and very nurturing.”
The graduates have much to look forward to as they begin a new chapter of their lives. As Rogers ended her speech, she had one final wish to give the graduates.
“I hope you do what you love, find work that makes you happy, and live life with gusto,” Rogers said.
Congratulations to the 2017 graduates!
For more information about Calumet College of St. Joseph, go to www.ccsj.edu.