GARY │ More than two-thirds were women. Forty percent were students of color. Close to half are first-generation college graduates. The great majority are age 30 and older. And nearly 90 percent worked while earning their degrees.
They made up the more than 700 students receiving degrees at Indiana University Northwest’s 48th commencement ceremony Thursday at the Genesis Convention Center.
Those degrees are symbols of the knowledge and skills the students sought when they began at IU Northwest, said graduate Adam Minskey, who gave the student address.
“The proof of our achievements lies not within this piece of paper nor can our knowledge be measured by it,” he said. “Rather it lies in the abilities we have developed and potential for success we have gained. While this diploma may be physical evidence of this achievement the development of knowledge and capabilities are the real tools which will help define who we are and what we set out to achieve.”
Of the 729 IU Northwest degrees conferred, 108 were associate degrees, 511 bachelor’s degrees and 110 master’s degrees.
“The IU Northwest class of 2014 is distinctive, even among IU regional campuses and reflects the region we serve,” Chancellor William Lowe said.
The class includes Anna Spark, of Gary, a mother to four and grandmother to 11. She earned her associate degree in general studies. Spark plans to continue her education and walk across the stage to receive another degree in two years.
DeJuan DeVoe earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and did so in three years by taking a heavy course load during the summer and having the good fortune of not having to hold a job at the same time.
“That was possible due to my Montgomery GI Bill benefits as a result of my service in the United States Navy,” he said.
DeVoe was recognized as an outstanding senior in economics. He plans to pursue his master’s.
“My knowledge of economics and what goes on with the Federal Reserve has gone up exponentially,” he said. “I don’t think that would have happened at a larger university. The care level wouldn’t be as high as it is here.”
Another graduate, Marla Gee, 61, has been accepted to law school at Valparaiso University.
Graduate Meredith Sperling received a master’s in education.
“It’s awesome,” she said. “I didn’t think it was ever going to happen.”
Indiana University President Michael McRobbie told the graduates they have received an education that has not only prepared them to succeed in the globally interconnected world of the 21st century but one that has also prepared them to influence democratic decision-making and to practice and reap the results of the hard work of citizenship.
“Your Indiana University education has enhanced your critical thinking and problem-solving skills,” he said. “It has instilled in you the desire to ask — and the capacity to seek answers to some of the most important questions of our day: questions about prosperity and poverty, about energy, technology and fundamental questions about right and wrong. Your answers — and perhaps more importantly, the debates in which you will engage as you seek these answers — will serve to renew our democracy and to help it continue to thrive.”