Around Northwest Indiana there are 748 students holding their newly minted Indiana University degrees. On Thursday, Indiana University Northwest supplied college students the moment they had been waiting years for - their commencement ceremony and the ability to say that they are now IU grads. The University held the 50th annual ceremony in Gary’s Genesis Center among a full house of family, friends, and relatives waiting to see their loved ones walk across the stage.
Like all commencement ceremonies, IUN’s was filled with smiles, cheers, and over-the-moon graduates who would never forget the day they were handed their degree. The university provides more than just a place of higher learning, but is incredibly essential to many people by giving them a chance to achieve their long-coveted dream of being a college graduate. This year alone, over 40 percent of the graduating class is made up of first-generation college students. Chancellor of Indiana University Northwest, Dr. William Lowe, explained that gaining an IU degree is more than just the experience, it’s the pride that comes afterwards.
“To our students, we are more than just a place to study, learn or earn a college degree. We are the place where minds are enriched; potential is unleashed; and confidence is built,” Lowe stated. “Today’s achievement symbolizes more than just a diploma, but also: the promise of a lifetime of success; the promise of preparation for whatever comes next; the promise of becoming part of something larger than any individual.”
IU Northwest has over 29,000 alumni, and it ushered in a new class of alumni ready to make a change in the world. For Brandon Karcher, a graduate with degrees in biology and Spanish, this doesn’t signify the end of his academic career - he is off to Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine - but his experience at staying home and going to IUN gave him an experience of improving the community he lives in by volunteering.
“I always tell people not to overlook your local universities, because they can offer better opportunities than larger schools as long as you take advantage of them.” Karcher stated. “All of my community engagement has inspired me to continue giving back, since I have found a true passion for bettering the community I live in.”
Still, as much as the ceremony and the switch over of the tassles was a huge part of the day, what really mattered to the IUN graduates was being together with their family to celebrate a significant point in their life. Samantha Bouyer, who graduated with degrees in science and criminal justice, was immediately surrounded with loved ones after walking out of the center with her degree in hand. Bouyer stated that the journey to graduation was a long time coming, but it’s a moment she wouldn’t forget.
“I feel excited and ready for what’s ahead! College was a challenge, but it was completely worth it.” Bouyer stated. “I’m glad I went to IUN - it’s at home - and the school gave me the time and effort back as much as I put in. It’s really a place that’s allowed me to move forward and start a new chapter in my life.”
Next year Indiana University Northwest will play the classic ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ in the Genesis Convention Center to welcome the class of 2017 onto the floor for the 51st annual commencement ceremony, but for the next few days this is the moment for the class of 2016. It’s their time relish in the celebration and live in their moment, their achievement. As it should be.
Congrats IUN class of 2016!