Today, Indiana University Northwest will confer 643 degrees to the Class of 2017.
This achievement, years in the making for many, signifies a significant accomplishment in each student’s life. It characterizes our graduates’ vision, dedication and determination. It represents the countless hours devoted to studying, writing, and researching. And, most important, it symbolizes that they, the Class of 2017, have fulfilled their promises to their individual futures, futures in which they will be forever linked with nearly 700,000 other IU alumni, who, just like them, have also realized their dreams.
Commencement is a day when I reflect on the transformational role that education, particularly higher education, plays in one’s life.
As our graduates can attest, true education is not about memorization or performance on examinations. It is about engaging and empowering students to become independent learners and leaders who think critically, reason knowledgeably and lead fulfilling adult lives.
All of these, and more, are the reasons why Elizabeth Morales found herself at IU Northwest four years ago.
Throughout her life, Elizabeth has tackled many “firsts”: First in her family to be born in the United States; first in her family to be literate in English; first in her family to attend college. And, today, she is first in her family to graduate with a college degree.
When Elizabeth first enrolled in IU Northwest, she did it as much for herself as for her family.
She recognized at a young age how hard her parents worked and sacrificed, just to support the family. At the same time, she, too, realized that, through education and her own determination, a college degree was her opportunity to lead a fulfilled, enriched and truly transformed life.
Elizabeth became invested in the life of the campus, taking on leadership roles, seeking out campus employment, and finding every possible avenue to help her succeed.
Like so many IU Northwest students, Elizabeth encountered her share of challenges and obstacles, but she could not give up. She pushed forward, with courage and confidence, surrounding herself with those who also believed in her vision.
To Elizabeth, earning her degree was a personal yet also familial goal that she had to see to the end.
Her courage and commitment has paid off. Today, Indiana University will confer her Bachelor of Science in Business degree, with a concentration in Accounting/Financial Information Systems.
I congratulate Elizabeth for believing in herself, her hard work and for taking the long view of the value of an Indiana University degree.
Like Elizabeth, our graduates’ achievements stand for more than simply the diploma that they receive. It also symbolizes the promise of a lifetime of success; the promise of preparation for whatever comes next; and, the promise of becoming part of something larger than any individual, by joining all of those who hold Indiana University degrees.
I am very proud of the Class of 2017. Their academic achievements, their engagement in their communities and their commitment to lifelong learning will serve them well and continue to distinguish them in the life and future of Northwest Indiana.
I am very confident that, in the future, we will have every reason to be proud of them, as graduates of Indiana University and IU Northwest.
William J. Lowe is Chancellor of Indiana University Northwest in Gary, Ind. As one of seven Indiana University campuses, IU Northwest leads the Northwest Indiana region as the premier, urban campus dedicated to serving students from the state’s most diverse and industrialized region.
Chancellor Lowe holds the degrees of B.A. in History from Michigan State University and Ph.D. in Modern History from Trinity College Dublin. Dr. Lowe’s research and writing are in the field of modern Irish history and he was a Fulbright Scholar. He became Chancellor and Professor of History at IU Northwest in July 2010.
Gary, IN 46408
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