Last month, IUPUI awarded degrees to 6,531 students. IU degrees went to 5,279 students, and Purdue degrees to 1,252 students.
There were five sets of twins in the graduating class. About 30% were over 30 years of age, with the oldest graduate being 70. Some 36% were under the age of 24, with the youngest graduating at age 20. More than 28% were first generation college students and nearly 11% were underrepresented minorities.
But the numbers and percentages only tell part of the story, and there are many remarkable stories to tell about the Class of 2012.
Five undergraduate students became the first ever to receive IUPUI’s new Bachelor of Arts degree in philanthropic studies. The graduates all commented that they were looking to turn their passion for helping others into a meaningful career path. Nonprofits represent 10 percent of the U.S. workforce, and there is a growing need for well-prepared, thoughtful leaders. As a fundamental part of their education, the students learned by doing with service learning projects and internships, including developing a summer enrichment program for homeless children, writing grant proposals, creating a new program evaluation method for a social services agency, and assisting in fundraising.
We selected two graduating seniors to speak at commencement.
Carmanny Gonzalez received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, but first came to IUPUI for the American Chemical Society Project SEED summer research program for economically disadvantaged high school students. Rosie Bonjouklian endowed this scholarship and regularly meets with the students it supports. It is among our oldest outreach programs, established in 1972 by Edwin “Ed” Harper, now retired from the School of Medicine’s biochemistry faculty. As an undergraduate, Carmanny continued to do research with funding as a McNair and Diversity Research Scholar. Her goal is nursing research in children’s health.
The other student commencement speaker was David Wohlreich, one of the more than 500 seniors graduating with a Bachelor of Science in business this year. David had worked in the hospitality industry before deciding to go to college and was among our older “nontraditional age” students. With baccalaureate in hand, he has accepted a position with the public accounting and consulting firm Crowe Horwath and plans to pursue an M.B.A.
The Evening M.B.A. program in our Kelley School of Business was perfect for Manoj Rana. An engineering student from India, Manoj was studying at Purdue Calumet in 2005 when an apartment building fire broke out, killing three people. He escaped but spent four months in a medically induced coma because of severe burns. Years of surgeries and rehabilitation ensued, including long stretches of time in nursing homes, his family in India being unable to stay with him because of visa requirements. Our program allowed him to study part time as he recovered his health, and he excelled in it, earning the highest GPA in the Evening M.B.A. graduating class. His family traveled from India to celebrate his graduation.
Women were 57.7% of the graduating class, but some benefitted from a special support network to persist. Four years ago, five freshmen, away from home for the first time and full of uncertainty, joined the Women in Science House (WISH), a living and learning community that is part of on-campus housing. Last month, Kylie Bontrager, Jessica Hashu, Jessica Jackson, Jessica Rodenbeck, and Ashley Winfield graduated among the top students on campus. The women worked together to help each other succeed as science majors and took part in organized study sessions as well as social, academic, and volunteer events throughout the year, which are part of the WISH experience.
Justin Penix graduated from the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI with a dual degree in motorsports engineering and mechanical engineering. After the busy Indy 500 racing season, he has already been hired by Sarah Fisher’s racing team, where he had been an intern for two years while pursuing his studies.
Cornelius Audu was one of eight graduates from the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation program, funded by the National Science Foundation to support underrepresented minorities interested in science, engineering, technology, and math. IUPUI is partnering with Chicago State University and Argonne National Laboratory in a new $2.5 million NSF award to establish the pilot Louis Stokes Midwest Center of Excellence and expand summer research opportunities in STEM fields. Cornelius is going on to pursue a Ph.D. at Northwestern.
As is apparent from these stories, engagement in campus life and scholarship funding have been major factors in helping our students graduate. Won’t you consider contributing to these high-touch teaching/learning practices by making a donation to the IUPUI IMPACT Campaign. You could be making a real difference in a young person’s future.