Indiana University Northwest celebrates 626 graduates at 58th annual Commencement Ceremony

Indiana University Northwest celebrates 626 graduates at 58th annual Commencement Ceremony

Wednesday, May 8 marked a very special day for 626 Indiana University (IU) Northwest students as they proudly turned the tassels on their graduation caps at the school’s 58th annual Commencement Ceremony. Joined by friends, family, and the IU Northwest community alike, the Class of 2024 gathered one last time to celebrate this educational milestone before saying heartfelt goodbyes and venturing off to begin the next chapter of their lives.

Indiana University Northwest Commencement 2024

Indiana University Northwest Commencement 2024 161 Photos
Indiana University Northwest Commencement 2024Indiana University Northwest Commencement 2024Indiana University Northwest Commencement 2024Indiana University Northwest Commencement 2024

The ceremony began with opening remarks both from IU Northwest President Pamela Whitten and Chancellor Ken Iwama, each with congratulatory speeches to the Class of 2024.

“The special thing about you, our graduates, is that your journeys are as unique as you are, and, yes, sometimes they are marked with life’s difficult trials and tribulations, but build upon your remarkable accomplishments and this milestone of graduation to dream anew and achieve more, guided by the noble purpose to help all of us do better, and be better,” Iwama said in his speech. “So bring on tomorrow, backed by the strength of these two great declarations: ‘We are IU Northwest’ and ‘You are RedHawks for life.’”

Following their presentations, an Alumni Induction was presented by Jennifer Celeste Dejanovich, a member of the Class of 2024 from the School of Business and Economics. Faith LaShawn Smith, another member of the graduating class from the College of Arts and Sciences, then presented the student address.

“To the 2024 graduates who are present with us today, I would like to take a moment to express how proud we all should feel this morning,” Smith said in her speech. “It took a lot for us to get here, but we’re here. We made it through the trials and tribulations that come with being a college student. We’ve defied the odds and have accomplished yet another goal with many more to look forward to. Bask in this moment as long as you want to, because you did this.”

Finally, it was time for the graduates to have their moment in the sun as each walked across the stage as their name was called to receive their degree.

IU Northwest’s Class of 2024 has plenty to celebrate this year, as the group has made some impressive accomplishments and reached major milestones throughout their time at the university. Of the graduates at Wednesday’s ceremony, 33 received their associate’s degree, 501 received their bachelor’s degree, and 92 received their master’s degree.

One such student was Jade Johnson, a third generation IU Northwest graduate. Originally from East Point, Georgia, Johnson chose to attend IU Northwest for a degree in criminal justice and minors in forensics and criminal investigation to follow in the footsteps of her grandmother and father, who also graduated from the Gary campus.

Johnson credits the numerous professors, staff, and opportunities she’s encountered while at IU Northwest that helped her develop leadership skills and persevere when challenging times arose. This included becoming the President of the Black Student Union, the Vice President of the Nu Lambda chapter for Alpha Kappa Sorority, Inc., President of My Sister’s Keeper, a student life representative for SGA, and a member of the Criminal Justice Association. Additionally, after taking up a position as a substitute teacher for the Merrillville Community School Corporation, she found a passion for teaching and will now be pursuing a masters degree in education to become a licensed teacher.

“IU Northwest gives a lot of opportunities,” she said in a press release. “It doesn’t matter if it’s just a work-study or internship, you have professors who will actively push you. They want you to do better. Staff will push you because they want you to do better for yourself, putting you in situations that spotlight you. That’s why I’m here now.”

This year’s graduating class is quite a diverse bunch, with representation from many different races, ethnicities, and walks of life. Out of the 626 students, underrepresented persons of color make up 43.8%, first-generation students make up 42.5%, Hispanic and Latino students make up 26.7%, and African Americans make up 13.5% of the group.

The graduating class also has quite the age range, with 25% of graduating students being 30 years or older, and 45.1% of the students being 25 years or older. The oldest in the class is 65 years old.

Additionally, the youngest student in the class, Khaya Njumbe, is graduating with his bachelor's degree in general studies at just 15 years old. The Gary native is now preparing for graduate school as the next step in his educational journey, with the ultimate goal to attend medical school and eventually become a biomedical engineer. Njumbe has always had a strong passion for education, with three associate’s degrees under his belt prior to Wednesday’s ceremony.

“I guess a lot of people would think that I’m surprised or didn’t think I was going to be able to do this. It’s pretty normal for me now because, as far back as I can remember, that’s all I’ve known,” Njumbe said in a press release. “Right now I’m looking for graduate schools because I can’t enroll in medical school due to labor laws and all that since I’m still under 18.”

Many other inspirational students make up the class of 2024 alongside Johnson and Njumbe, proving that whether someone is a teen looking to jumpstart their career or an adult looking for a way to give them an additional boost in the working world, there is always a place for them to succeed and prosper at IU Northwest.

“IU Northwest gave me hope,” Class of 2024 Member Karla Arreguin said in a press release. “I found a community, I found my own space and I found my identity here, as well. I found a place where I belong and can say, ‘I’m an IU student,’ and be proud of it.”

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