GARY | “Life is full of days that seem like they’ll never come. This is one many of us never thought would come."
Kelly Becker, of DeMotte, presented the student address Thursday at the 47th annual Indiana University Northwest commencement at the Genesis Convention Center in Gary.
After working to earn degrees, receiving them “is a mere formality,” Becker told the 854 members of her graduating class.
“My hope is that this spectacle is a reminder that this is a fleeting moment, a memory. ... Enjoy the road ahead," said Becker, who received her bachelor of arts in communications.
IUN Chancellor William Lowe said the conferral of the degrees, from associate to master’s, represents a commitment of time and perseverance.
“The overwhelming majority of our graduates have completed their degrees while also successfully balancing the competing demands of college, work and family responsibilities,” Lowe said.
Among those honored at the ceremony were military personnel on active duty and Reservists, veterans and the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, who were commissioned immediately following graduation. Those graduates wore the armed services cords of red, white and blue as part of their cap-and-gown attire.
Robert Lalonde, 30, of Wheatfield, was among the veterans receiving his degree Thursday. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2001 before Sept. 11 and served in Iraq from 2007 to 2009 as an E-4 specialist/military police.
When he was discharged in 2009, the father of a 6-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter decided to pursue his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at IUN.
“My familiarity with the field made me proud to become a police officer,” Lalonde said. “I’ve applied to departments all over the area. I would like to stay here.”
The challenges of life didn’t stop 61-year-old Kae Griffith, of Griffith, from pursuing her master's of social work degree. She has a daughter with special needs, a mother who suffered a stroke and a niece fighting a terminal illness.
All of these challenges prepared her for her degree work and her career at Hospice of the Calumet Area, she said.
“I am still amazed that I am here and that I’m going to graduate and I did it,” Griffith said.
A plane malfunction in Bloomington prevented Indiana University President Michael McRobbie from attending the IUN commencement. His address was delivered by Patrick Shoulders, vice chairman of the trustees of Indiana University, who also conferred the degrees.