Indiana University Northwest conferred 827 degrees to its Class of 2009 on Thursday, May 14, at the Gary Genesis Convention Center. Friends and families of the graduates joined faculty members and administrators in celebrating the accomplishments of a diverse and highly successful group of students.
In his commencement address, IU President Michael McRobbie encouraged the graduates to embrace their role as leaders in the global community.
“Your decisions will have worldwide impact,” the President said. “Whether you have earned your degree in dental hygiene or history, education or public affairs, everywhere you will see signs of global connections. And everywhere you will see signs of change.”
McRobbie asked the Class of 2009 to embrace that change with “invention, innovation, imagination, and decision,” and to bring courage and leadership to their future endeavors.
“This is a time for you to rise to the challenges of the present as you help create the global future,” he said.
In his remarks, IU Northwest Chancellor Bruce Bergland commended this year’s graduates for overcoming any obstacles they had encountered during their academic careers. He cited several students in particular – including social work graduate Theresa Woods, who lost both of her parents within months of each other in 2008, yet completed the program on time and with honors, and elementary education graduate Emanuel Medellin, who took 17 years to earn his degree – as examples of those whose determination to succeed never wavered.
“Our graduates have followed a variety of challenging and rewarding paths to reach this important occasion in their lives,” Bergland said. “All have persevered through adversity and pursued their dreams with hard work, sacrifice and optimism for the future.”
In praising their academic success, the Chancellor also cautioned members of the Class of 2009 to expect greater trials outside of the classroom than they had found within it.
“As each life is different, so, too, are the challenges that shape and strengthen it. But those challenges do not end with Commencement, or with a final exam,” Bergland said.
“Indeed, your greatest tests lie yet ahead, outside of the classroom, amongst your fellow citizens, in a world that demands your best effort but also requires your compassionate spirit,” he continued. “We at IU Northwest are confident that each of you is prepared to answer that call.”
McRobbie also mentioned by name one of this year’s exceptional graduates – Dawn Swanson, who graduated with her elementary education degree and a 4.0 grade-point average. McRobbie noted that Swanson’s husband, Joe, had earned his M.P.A. from IU Northwest last year, and that he and the Swansons’ three daughters – Allie, Annie and Angie – were in the audience to support Dawn on her fine achievement.
“The Swanson family offers everyone a lesson in determination and success. For them, an IU education is truly a family endeavor,” the President said.
Sixty-nine percent of this year’s IU Northwest graduates were women and 31 percent were men. More than 17 percent of graduates in the Class of 2009 earned a 3.5 grade point average or higher and graduated with distinction, high distinction or highest distinction.
More than 425 of this year’s graduates walked in what was the 43rd annual commencement exercise for the Northwest campus of Indiana University. The two-hour ceremony capped a challenging academic year for the university as a whole, as McRobbie also noted in his address.
“For some, the most difficult challenges and greatest achievements came last fall, as flood waters escaped the banks of the Little Calumet River and crept across campus,” the President said, recalling the September 2008 flood that left more than a foot of water in some areas of campus and forced a two-week suspension of classes.
“That the campus emerged as soon as it did is testimony to the dedication of the faculty and staff, to Chancellor Bergland’s energy and commitment, and to the strength and spirit of IU Northwest students,” McRobbie said.