By Carson Gerber
Tribune staff writer
— IUK Interim Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke said she found inspiration in the 547 students who walked away with degrees Tuesday morning during the school’s 44th commencement ceremony.
She was inspired by Nick Sears, who recently battled a rare form of cancer with only two classes left to complete his degree. He walked across the stage Tuesday cancer free.
She was inspired by a single mother with severe dyslexia who ended up graduating as the outstanding student in general studies.
She was inspired by Shawn Owings, one of the first women to serve as a medic in Iraq on the front lines. She earned a nursing degree and plans to work at a veterans hospital.
“As I look at each and every one of you, I’m inspired by your personal stories and your successful journeys,” Sciame-Giesecke said. “Our students have come from very different backgrounds, with very different goals and very different stories. But what I’ve noticed about each student is that they brought an adventurous, determined spirit to this campus.”
Wayne McKinney, who attended the ceremony, said he saw that determination in his grandson, Seth, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
“It feels really good to see him here,” he said as Seth walked to his seat with his classmates. “I’m so proud of him. I’m proud of how he’s worked his way through school to better himself.”
John Applegate, executive vice president of IU’s regional affairs, said during the ceremony that a college degree is something people need now more than ever.
“There is no question that the world we share has become more globally interconnected and complex than ever,” he said. “... This brave new world — marked by rapid, personal and participatory change — is the world into which you, the members of the class of 2013, graduate.”
Applegate filled in for IU President Michael McRobbie, who officials said couldn’t attend the event because of an illness.
Jeremy Gibson, student body president at IUK, agreed the world is rapidly changing, but encouraged his classmates to make sure that change was positive.
“We can be the vanguards of further change by using the knowledge we have gained to leave our mark and make the world a better place,” he said.
And Applegate said that’s the ultimate goal of earning a degree.
“As graduates of Indiana University, you have been preparing for years to become the next generation to discover, to understand and to apply all that you have learned,” he said. “As you leave this commencement ceremony and stride boldly toward your future, you will be marching toward better days and gazing toward the promise of the sun. Congratulations class of 2013.”
Carson Gerber is a Kokomo Tribune reporter. He may be reached at 765-854-6739, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.