Walking across IU commencement stage marks next chapter for master's, doctoral students

  • May 12, 2014

Editor's note: This story from The Bloomington Herald-Times is being published here as a courtesy for readers of IU in the News.

By MJ Slaby

Despite the rain after Indiana University’s graduate commencement, families and friends gathered around the graduates, taking photos and sharing hugs.

Some went into the rain and took photos anyway, while others posed amid the crowd beneath the covered entrance to Assembly Hall.

Moments earlier, they’d come from the ceremony where students from across campus -- except those in the Maurer School of Law -- earned their master’s and doctoral degrees. The degrees included the first Ph.D. in African American and African diaspora studies and the first master’s and doctoral degrees from the new School of Global and International Studies.

Each graduate walked across the stage as his or her name was read, followed by applause and cheers from family and friends. And when it was over, IU had more than 2,300 new alumni.

Here are the highlights:

From Michael McRobbie, IU president

“The ceremony today is brief compared to the years these candidates have put into earning an academic or professional degree,” McRobbie told the graduates and their families as he took the stage. “You have been preparing for years to discover, to understand and to apply all that you have learned.”

What these newest graduates take with them is a reflection of their time on campus.

“The reputation of IU will depend on the values, knowledge and skills you have learned here,” McRobbie said.

From Paul O’Neill, commencement speaker

A businessman and former U.S. secretary of the treasury, O’Neill was straightforward as he took to the podium.

“I’m going to give you my most important advice first: Whatever else you do in your life, make time to have fun,” he said.

The IU alumnus and former chairman and CEO of Alcoa also gave this advice to the soon-to-be graduates starting their careers: “My life has been a series of lucky serendipity; it just kind of happened, including coming to IU,” he said. “Put yourself in the way of opportunity; let it happen to you.”

Before his speech, O’Neill received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from IU. He said he has fond memories of his time as an IU student. He started his career after hearing John F. Kennedy’s inauguration speech in January 1961.

“What I took away was: If you want to make a difference, come here and help,” O’Neill said.

From the students

A lifelong love of the past and playing in the dirt led Meghan Buchanan on a path to earning her Ph.D. in anthropology, and when she walked across the stage, she met her goal.

“It was a little emotional,” she said. “It was six very long years, and this was the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Buchanan said she fell in love with Bloomington, a college town with a small community feel, and said she’s excited to continue working at the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology. Having her Ph.D. means her interests are helping her have a career and move into her future.

Marjan Khosravi came to Bloomington in August 2012 from Iran to pursue her master’s in medical physics. She said walking across the stage was a big step in her career.

“It was tough,” she said.  

On the one hand, she said, “It was, oh my God, I have achieved this.” But on the other hand, it was sad because of all the amazing connections she’s made and people she’s met. 

She said it’s been difficult being far from her family, but she has many memories of Bloomington that will make it hard to leave, although she knows that’s what comes next.

“The only way to grow and progress is to keep moving on,” she said.