A record number of 633 graduates participated in Indiana University Kokomo’s Commencement ceremony Tuesday, where a total of 637 degrees were awarded.

Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke noted that those graduates came from all walks of life to converge at IUK, and she took time to recognize first-generation college students, who made up more than 40 percent of the graduating class; parents; veterans; international students and those continuing on for advanced degrees. Fifty-four students earned master’s degrees on Tuesday. Another 570 earned their bachelor’s and13 received associate degrees. Some students earned more than one degree.

“When they leave us today, we know they are prepared to make a difference in this region,” Sciame-Giesecke said. “Today our graduates will receive an Indiana University diploma. As you can see, all of our students have worked hard to earn this prestigious degree.”

Student Government President Brian Arwood said he’d been thinking of graduation day when he started at IUK four years ago. He had pictured himself giving the commencement address and hoping he would have something insightful to share with his peers at that point.

Arwood shared the mantra that guided him through is time at IUK: “While I breathe, I hope, I love, I laugh, I learn.”

“I hoped for something better in my life,” Arwood said, adding that his hopes were exceeded in the experience he had at IUK and how he’s seen his family grow in recent years.

He encouraged his fellow graduates to do what they love, to remember to laugh and not take themselves too seriously, and to continue learning.

“None of us would be here today if we didn’t share that instinct, that desire and drive to learn,” said Arwood, of Peru, who earned a nursing degree.

 IU President Michael McRobbie also noted the importance of learning in maintaining a well-informed, civilized society.

“The education you have received has benefits for each of you individually. There are also some apparent benefits of higher education more broadly to our society,” McRobbie said, adding that pursuing a degree instills a sense of ethics and logic in students and prepares them for public service.

This was the first year IUK held its Commencement at the Kokomo Event and Conference Center, and the venue was full of supportive friends and family.

Education reporter Lauren Slagter can be reached at 765-454-8587, by email at lauren.slagter@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @LaurenSlagter.

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