‘Hail to old IU’
Speakers leave graduates with advice for life, career and family
IU awarded 8,880 degrees to 8,590 students at the graduate and undergraduate ceremonies. Saturday’s two undergraduate ceremonies experienced a record number of attendees, filling both balconies in Assembly Hall twice.
2013 Graduate Commencement Ceremony
Instruments gleamed under the lights of Assembly Hall as the IU Commencement Brass Ensemble played, welcoming parents and friends alike to the spacious hall. Smiling faces, numerous peace signs and thumbs up, as well as triumphant, proud expressions and frantically waving hands greeted the doctoral and masters students at 2:35 p.m Friday as the graduate ceremony began in Assembly Hall. The “grad cam” allowed attendees to see close-ups of their students.
Flag bearers carrying banners with the emblems of the different schools at IU entered last, and as all the graduate students took their seats, Assembly Hall fell silent.
“Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon and welcome,” IU President Michael McRobbie said. “Welcome to the 184th Commencement Ceremony of Indiana University and the fourth Graduate Commencement Ceremony.”
The crowd rose to its feet to sing the national anthem and listen to the invocation. Afterwards, McRobbie shared a personal bit of information with attendees.
“I am here today, not only as President of Indiana University but also as a parent,” McRobbie said.
McRobbie’s daughter, already an IU alumna, graduated for a second time at the Graduate Ceremony. His son graduated in the morning session of the 2013 Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony and his daughter will graduate from USC in two weeks.
“This, after all, is a family business,” McRobbie said.
Following McRobbie’s introduction, David Brooks was introduced as the Graduate Commencement speaker and was named an honorary degree candidate. McRobbie conferred a Doctorate of Human Letters upon Brooks before he spoke to Friday’s graduates.
Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times, is often recognized as one of the nation’s leading public intellectuals. McRobbie said that Brooks has been called a “beacon of intelligence and integrity.” Brooks’ son, Joshua Brooks, was recognized as well, having just completed his junior year at IU.
Brooks’ address consisted of witty and wise remarks to the graduate class of 2013. As Brooks stood at the podium, he laughingly noted that he was especially pleased to receive a degree before his son, who had been “slaving away” for three years for one. He continued his speech with advice regarding what he said the graduates should worry about and what they shouldn’t worry about, interlaced with humorous remarks throughout.
“I’ve been struck by the confidence of students today, but also the amount of insecurities,” Brooks said. “My job is not to eliminate your worries, but to tell you what to worry about.”
Brooks listed things he believed graduates should worry about after college, one of which being “will I get more boring as I age.”
Brooks suggested that graduates spend the next 10 years of their lives in professional experimentation and the next 20 in spiritual experimentation, in order to avoid a rut.
“Don’t think about what you want from life,” Brooks said. “Think about what life wants from you.”
Following Brooks’ commencement address, the class of 2013’s degrees were conferred. McRobbie gave his closing speech and the ceremony ended with the singing of IU’s alma mater, “Hail to Old IU.”
A new planned tradition was started at the graduate event.
The names of all master’s degree students were announced, and President McRobbie and Provost Robel greeted each one.
“There is still much work to be done,” McRobbie said. “There always will be. Take pride in your work, and the world you will make.”
Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony
The rows of white chairs and red carpet remained as before at the Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony and an added sense of excitement and pride filled Assembly Hall as an even larger amount of people walked up the winding ramps and stairs to their seats.
As friends and family members sought seats close enough to be able to spot their graduating seniors, those who arrived with less than an hour until the Ceremonies began were forced to sit in the balcony, where spotting a specific student was made much more difficult by the distance.
Clint Rias, from Middletown, Ohio, left his house at 6 a.m. in order to be at his morning graduation of his niece, Mikole Dominique-Mercedes Mayo.
“This is my first major commencement ever coming to,” Rias said. He laughed as attendees grumbled about the seats.
“When I got here, this balcony was empty,” Rias said. “Now look at it.”
By the time graduates began filing into Assembly Hall, nearly every seat in the audience sections was full.
Cheers erupted from the crowd as the “grad cam” zoomed in on senior basketball players Victor Oladipo and Christian Watford. The two greeted the camera with smiling, triumphant expressions.
In his welcome address, McRobbie mentioned the name of a student who should have been in attendance at the 2013 Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony.
Lauren Spierer, who has been missing since June 2011, would have been a senior during this school year.
“Keep Lauren Spierer and the members of her family in our thoughts,” McRobbie said.
Alecia DeCoudreaux, president of Mills College in Oakland, Cal., and Vi Simpson, the first female legislator in Indiana history, were awarded Doctorates of Humane Letters at the undergraduate ceremonies. DeCoudreaux gave the commencement address at both ceremonies.
“On this day, when your heads and your hearts are so full of glee, hope, apprehension and plans, maybe the story of a life is not so simple after all,” DeCoudreaux said. “Maybe it cannot and should not be told as a journey from point A to point B, with a straight line between those points being the goal.”
DeCoudreaux talked of her first time coming to IU and how she took a wrong turn that took her on a detour route through a small, country town called Gnaw Bone, Ind.
She said that she was filled with anger and impatience while driving down the winding country road, but looking back she points to that moment as being the key to helping her slow down and appreciate the detours in life, the small things.
“If you don’t enjoy your life, it won’t matter what you achieve,” DeCoudreaux said.
Student Commencement speakers Deanna Allbrittin and Sonia Phadke left graduates with life lessons learned and encouraged the graduates to be aware of who they were, for they will be representing IU everywhere they go.
“We will be Hoosiers for the rest of our lives,” Phadke said.
McRobbie concluded the ceremony with a final address. He offered words of wisdom, guidance and hope to the graduating class of 2013.
“As you leave this commencement ceremony, and stride boldly towards your future, you too will be marching towards better days and gazing towards the promise of the sun,” McRobbie said.
Caps flew sporadically into the air after the morning session and beach balls bounced around the sections of graduates following the afternoon session. Celebratory chants could be heard throughout Assembly Hall.
Alex Totheroh, a graduate of the afternoon session on Saturday, stood waiting outside Assembly Hall with his friend Mitchell Bailey. He expressed his post-graduation emotions in a flood of words.
“It’s complicated, bittersweet, exciting, terrifying and additional clichés regarding graduation,” he laughed. “It’s also a relief, in a way.”
At Saturday’s end, freshly graduated students posed for pictures at the Sample Gates and at numerous, iconic places on campus.
They made their way to restaurants and bars around town, spending precious time with their families and friends before embarking down set or unknown paths.
Paths, DeCoudreaux said, that may turn into detours, taking them “somewhere you hardly dared to dream of
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