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Three NIU graduations set students on next steps in their careers

December 17, 2018

The tropical sound of the Northern Illinois University steel drum band during a warm December weekend greeted family and friends when they arrived at the NIU Convocation Center for three separate graduation ceremonies.

The graduate school commencement took place Saturday.

Undergraduates of the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Visual and Performing Arts received their degrees Sunday morning. Undergraduates of the College of Business, the College of Education and the College of Health and Human Sciences were awarded their degrees Sunday afternoon.

“We are proud of your accomplishments,” NIU President Lisa Freeman told graduating students. “No one walks upon this stage alone. The NIU faculty and staff, along with your family, have challenged you and supported you. The best way to repay them is to do the same for others. It’s inspiring to contemplate your future.”

In addition to the colorful honor cords, sashes and stoles students wore in recognition of their achievements, many graduates chose to decorate the tops of their mortarboards.

“Amidst the sea of black robes are splashes of color,” Freeman said. “These are wonderful metaphors for the diversity at Northern Illinois University.”

Freeman talked about NIU students who have overcome adversity, such as I Younan An, a 2018 student laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

“[An] came to NIU at the age of 17 from Cambodia,” Freeman said. “He epitomizes what it means to be a Huskie. He will pursue a master’s degree in political science. His career aspiration is to become a diplomat, working to promote peace between Cambodia and other countries.”

“Today is a special day for the graduates and their loved ones,” NIU Board Chairman Wheeler Coleman said. “Cherish this day for the rest of your lives. As American architect Daniel Burnham said, ‘Make no little plans.’ Play big and think big. Pursue your passion. Don’t let anyone put limits on your possibilities.

Go and show the world your Huskie pride.”

Dave Ballantine, NIU associate dean of liberal arts and sciences, said “attending a graduation is always very rewarding and always exciting. I like to watch students I had in class walk across the stage.”

Ballantine said that his daughter, Pooja Ballantine, will be graduating from NIU in 2019 with a major in nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations.

Emily Eckles of Dixon, who graduated from NIU in May, attended the Sunday morning graduation to watch her boyfriend, Shobhit Srivastava, graduate with a degree in computer science.

“We met two years ago,” Eckles said. “We lived on the same floor in Stevenson South residence hall. I graduated while majoring in history.

I am now working toward my master’s degree in history at NIU. I am also a teacher’s assistant in the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality. I am the first person in my family to graduate from college.”

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