The sun shone brightly over the Indiana Memorial Union, paling only in comparison to the brilliance of the potential of the graduating students inside.
The School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering held its annual Student Recognition Celebrations at Alumni Hall May 4-5, honoring more than 1,200 students who earned their degrees as part of the Class of 2018. Master’s and Ph.D. degree recipients enjoyed the spotlight May 4, while those receiving Bachelor’s degrees took their turn on stage May 5.
“I couldn’t be more proud of you,” said SICE Dean Raj Acharya during his address to the crowd. “You are the data and information revolution. You hold the key to tomorrow. Use it wisely.”
SICE handed out a record-breaking number of degrees, and Acharya credited the graduates with helping set the tone for the future of the school at the new Luddy Hall, which opened in January.
“Although you’ve only been able to enjoy it for a short time,” Acharya said. “You’ve made it a very special place. I’m so thrilled you got the opportunity to get a glimpse of tomorrow at SICE, and your role as pioneers in the building has been critical in creating the kind of collaborative and innovative environment that is essential to our school’s success.”
A sense of pride and accomplishment hung thick in the air during both days of ceremonies as students reflected on what they had overcome during their time at SICE.
Pavithra Ramamurthy, who earned an M.S. in Human-Computer Interaction and is headed to a job with Salesforce in San Francisco, came to SICE following a five-year stint in the workforce, and she couldn’t be more thrilled with where her degree will take her.
“I never thought that I would go for a career shift,” Ramamurthy said. “It felt like the right time to come and expand my skills, and SICE gave me that opportunity. It’s where I found that I can expand my skills in different ways. I’m leveraging my education here to do bigger things than I ever imagined.”
Anna Baglione, who earned her Master’s in Informatics and will continue her education, saw herself grow out of her previous comfort zone over the past few years.
“I had a background in computer science, and I had to mesh it with more qualitative work while opening myself up to working with people,” Baglione said. “I was used to working with hard numbers, and you get that here, too, but you also get a nice mix of theory and doing things beyond just programming. It has been an amazing experience to work with so many great people.”
Javon Goard, who also earned a Master’s in Informatics and is moving into the Ph.D. program, learned to overcome some hurdles by turning to others for help.
“I was 50-50 on dropping out of the entire graduate student process,” Goard said with a smile. “It was a hard year for me with the coursework and some other things in my life. But I had a conversation with one of my mentors who told me, ‘You can do this. You just need to take a breather and go forth.’ So I took a night and thought about my future, and I decided to stick with it.
“I didn’t get a degree on my own, and when I walk across the stage, I’m walking for the many other people who helped me get to this part. You can walk through this process on your own, and you can accomplish your goal. But you can enjoy so many other opportunities by opening yourself up to other people, and that’s why I love that I get to celebrate this moment with all of my classmates.”
Wenxuan Han came to SICE from his home in China, and he earned his Master’s in Computer Science while learning about the American culture as well as how to develop new technology.
“I’ve really developed my skills,” Han said. “My technical background has become much stronger, and I know I have so many opportunities ahead of me. I can go to a company and make an immediate impact, and that’s meaningful to me.”
Nicole Anicetti earned a Master’s in Human-Computer Interaction, and she’s headed to StubHub in San Francisco. She’s proud of the faith she placed in herself.
“It takes a lot of dedication, but it’s definitely worth it,” Anicetti said. “If you’re willing to make the commitment to yourself and realize your future is worth the investment, it can pay off huge.”
Kaitlyn Gubert is headed to Colorado to work at Cognizant Technology Solutions as a consultant, and she’s excited to make her presence felt.
“I know I can utilize the skills learned at SICE to really help people and businesses,” Gubert said. “It’s important to find what you’re passionate about, and I really love technology. It’s exciting to know I’m going to be able to make a difference for someone.”
One new graduate, Raja Reddy, earned his Bachelor’s in Computer Science and plans to use those skills in the healthcare field. He juggled his computer science courses with pre-med studies, and he’s headed to medical school with an eye on using technology to improve the care of his patients.
“Getting through it all was like leaping over two hurdles at the same time,” Reddy said. “I got a lot of support from my classmates, and now that we’re at the end, it’s great to see so many people from the faculty and administration join the parents of the students to celebrate. It feels like more of a community than ever, and that sense of community helped me over and over again in my studies.”
Jessica Young, who earned her Bachelor’s in Informatics, was proud of how far she had come since arriving on campus.
“It was a culture shock for me,” Young said. “This is the biggest achievement of my life. It’s a really proud moment for me and my family.”
William Miller, who also earned his Bachelor’s in Informatics, joined a family tradition by earning his degree.
“A whole bunch of my family went here, and we can all share that now,” Miller said. “But this celebration is great because I get to share it with so many people I’ve had classes with. I know so many people who are here, and you don’t get that at some other schools. It’s cool being able to see everybody and enjoy the moment all together.”
Miller has a simple piece of advice for students who are headed to SICE in the future.
“Enjoy it,” Miller said. “It’s cliché, but it’s that easy. It’s irresponsible to say that you need to put other things before school, and you shouldn’t. But finding a balance in your life between your schoolwork and your personal life is incredibly important, and it’s easier when you feel like you have a family in the students around you.”