On Dec. 16, a group of approximately 130 University of Indianapolis students will walk across the stage in the Ransburg Auditorium and receive their diplomas. This is the first year in decades that the mid-year graduates will have an official commencement in full regalia, according to Vice President and Secretary to the University Lara Mann. The commencement is the result of a collaboration between the Indianapolis Student Government and the administration.
Senior political science major and Indianapolis Student Government President Jason Marshall brought the idea to Vice President for Student and Campus Affairs and Dean of Students Kory Vitangeli and UIndy President Robert Manuel in the fall of 2016. They put together a celebration for the 2016 December graduates that included a meal and a speech from United States Senator Joe Donnelly.
The team received positive feedback from students and decided to put together a ceremony for the 2017 mid-year graduation that was similar to the traditional May commencement. Manuel said that the administration was happy to support the initiative.
“Kory [Vitangeli] and ISG have worked over the past two years to empower the voice of the students through the elected officials,” Manuel said. “…We wanted to find a way to make that [December graduation] happen and be able to celebrate everybody’s accomplishments. If you spend three and a half years or four and a half years earning a Bachelor’s degree you deserve a moment to walk across the stage and receive your honor.”
Since UIndy has not held a December commencement in several decades, Mann said that the planning team could structure it however they wanted. However, they wanted the December ceremony to have the same personalization as the May commencement. Students will be reading certain parts of the ceremony and Marshall will be the student speaker.
“Mainly, I think our mission and our goal is to make it a moving moment for the student,” Mann said. “…It’s a symbolic walk where you’re stepping into the next phase of your life.”
Mann said that the feedback she has received from students so far has been positive. Marshall attributed the success of planning and implementing the commencement to students’ desire to have a formal ceremony and their participation in the 2016 celebration.
After working on creating a December graduation ceremony for over a year, Marshall said he is looking forward to graduating in the first one in decades and speaking on behalf of the graduating students.
“This has kind of been my baby project that I took on. To leave UIndy knowing that…at least one thing that I’ve done successfully to serve is that when I leave, more Greyhounds and more future students are going to be able to participate in something and be recognized for what they do,” Marshall said. “To leave knowing that I have a tradition here is pretty awesome, and kudos to my team and everyone who has participated in that. To be graduating in the first one [in several decades], it’s hard to explain. It’s the first time I’m graduating college, and to be at the first one, to have helped create it, to be the student speaker, I don’t know if words can really explain the specialness to this event.”