Students and families congregated at the timeless Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday for the spring 2022 graduation ceremony for the university’s largest college.
The spring 2022 graduating class of the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, along with their families, assembled at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for their graduation ceremony on Saturday.
The event was the first spring graduation in Carver since 2019 because of COVID-19. An array of waving pamphlets filled the arena as students and families fanned themselves, trying to neutralize the effects of the thick and balmy air.
UI President Barbara Wilson stepped up to the podium to thunderous applause and thanked the parents and families of the graduating class, saying college is a team effort. Then she addressed the students.
“Thank you for working so diligently on your studies and most importantly for choosing the University of Iowa for your education,” she said.
Wilson said the graduation ceremony is a major celebration for the university.
“At commencement, we fulfill our mission to educate and to send out into the world, new graduates with fresh ideas and perspectives who will literally change the world,” Wilson said.
She went on to let students know they will always be a part of the Hawkeye family and assured them their future work will reflect positively on their alma mater.
“The last thing I have to ask you, is everywhere you go, everywhere you vacation, everywhere you live, wear your gold and black gear proudly because people will recognize you wherever you go…” she said.
Bailey Deppe, a UI graduate who majored in biochemistry, said he will likely work for a year before going to graduate school, either for biochemistry or molecular biology.
“I’m excited to get out and get a job,” he said.
Deppe looks back the most fondly on his time spent participating in the Secular Students Club and the Debate Club along with his friends, he said.
Rebecka Williams, a graduate who received a Bachelor of Fine Arts, said now that she’s graduated, she’ll be moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota for a graphic design job.
“It feels amazing,” she said. “I thought we wouldn’t get here, which is I’m sure what everyone says. But it really, really didn’t feel like these past four years would go by as fast as they did.”
She expressed gratitude for professors who believed in her and pushed her, saying they are the ones who made her feel prepared for what is ahead.
Williams said there are certain moments from her time at the university that she’ll look back on in the future.
“I think the moments that you don’t think are going to be the most special are always the ones that are special,” she said.
While some students reflected fondly on their experiences, others did not share the same feelings.
Noni Gilkey, a graduate who received a degree in philosophy, said while it’s nice to graduate, her experience at the UI wasn’t very joyful.
“It’s the most racist place in the world,” she said. “I am grateful for the friends I’ve made. [The] Black Student Union is also a very good place that’s helped me a lot, but that’s about it.”
Lucas Russell, a sports and recreation management major, said it feels weird to graduate, but he’ll continue to study sports and recreation management and athletic administration in graduate school at the UI.
“It’s not as emotional as it could be for somebody else, but it feels good,” he said.
Russell is grateful for the experience his program provided in his field, he said.
“You get out and work internships, you work part-time jobs, you go on field trips, you do all the classwork and then apply it,” he said.