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57th Annual Commencement Celebrated May 10

    by Emilie Jenson, Public Information Office
    Posted on 5/14/2024

The newest class of Iowa Central alumni crossed the stage and stepped out into the world to begin their journeys to a better life Friday May 10.

A total of 570 students participated in the two ceremonies, held in Hodges Fieldhouse on the Fort Dodge campus.

“Today your path to a better life begins,” said Iowa Central President Dr. Jesse Ulrich as he addressed the graduates. “Nothing can take away from what you have accomplished here.”

Ulrich acknowledged first generation college graduates and challenged them to continue pursuing excellence that can be passed down for generations to come.

“We know for many of you this will be the first college degree that has been achieved in your family,” he said. “As a first-generation student it is now your job to make sure it is not the last.”

While commencement marked the end of their time at Iowa Central for many of the graduates, Ulrich reminded them that graduation day is just the beginning of great things to come.

“We also know that for many of you, this is the first step in your journey as you prepare to transfer to a university for additional coursework toward your bachelor’s degree. You have experienced a little of what it takes to persevere and strive toward that advanced degree,” said Ulrich.

Mark Crimmins, president of the Iowa Central Board of Trustees, noted that both the endings and new beginnings that come with graduation make it a bittersweet moment.

“Today we join our voices to cheer on these students who have earned the right to walk across this stage,” said Crimmins. “This ending starts a new beginning for you, which is why graduation is a bittersweet moment. Alongside the excitement and celebration is the lingering sadness of the farewells from the instructors, advisors and coaches who have cherished their time with you.”

Student Ambassador Mackinzie Fahey presented the student nominated Golden Triton Award to one faculty and one staff member. Nicole Fusco, advanced instructor in the Science Department was the 2024 faculty recipient. Sydney Suntken, an academic advisor was named 2024 staff recipient.

Abby Jensen, student senate president addressed her fellow graduates and encouraged them to remember the impact their Iowa Central experience will forever have on their lives.

“We leave today making a mark and with so much more than we ever expected,” Jensen said. “When we look back on our time at Iowa Central there will be certain memories that will stand out. What makes Iowa Central so special is the people we’ve met and the memories we’ve created. Iowa Central has given us connections we will hold onto for the rest of our lives. It’s about something bigger than ourselves. We have grown so much since we first arrived here. Our time here has helped us become better versions of ourselves and as our time here comes to a close, I know Iowa Central will always hold a special place in our hearts and we will look back at the impact our experiences here have had on our lives. Thank you Iowa Central, for making a difference and providing us a path for an incredible future.”

Nico Booyens, All-Iowa Academic Team and All-USA Academic Team nominee spoke to the graduates about success and how it can have many different meanings and perceptions.

“I did some reflecting on my time here at Iowa Central and came to realize that I had some misconceptions about what success really is,” said Booyens. “Success is all relative to what you make of it. No matter what you end up doing in life you don’t have to be the best to be successful. I feel like that is one of the biggest misconceptions about success; that you have to be the best.”

Booyens said being present and not worrying about the uncontrollables in life is a big contributor to how one sees success.

“Accepting the fact that there are many variables in life we cannot control should give you peace of mind,” he said. “Challenges are bound to occur. We are going to be challenged in some way or another every single day from the moment we wake up. Each of you can be successful in your own way so give your best, have fun doing so and keep on going with what you can, with what you have where you are.”

Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Finance Authority, delivered the commencement address.

Durham also focused on new beginnings and finding your passion to be successful.

“We tend to see our education as a means to an end, but the word ‘commencement’ means ‘beginning,’” said Durham. “When you look at it that way you begin to see your life as a series of beginnings. When people work together to turn dreams into reality, they begin to believe in themselves and think ‘if I can do this, I can do anything.’ I see it all the time in my work and today I see it for all of you. You have made it to the beginning.”

Durham encouraged the class of 2024 to focus on three things: Finding their passion, never second guessing their way out of opportunity and that it is OK to not have all the answers.

“The best part of finding your passion is working to discover it and everything you learn along the way,” she said. “Never second guess your way out of opportunity. Fear has a way of holding people back because taking on new opportunities means taking risks and that feels uncertain. When you step out of your comfort zone you will grow through the discomfort. You have to work and be prepared but you don’t have to do it alone; lean on the people you surround yourself with. It is OK to say when something hasn’t worked out, there is humility in that.”

“We know that your journey in life and the positive differences you are going to make are just beginning,” said Ulrich. “You are the difference makers and the world changers that our community and society need. We are proud of you and can’t wait to see where your better life takes you.”


Iowa Central Graduation by the numbers

  • 1,063 total credentials awarded
  • 570 participated in commencement ceremonies
  • 63 certificates, diplomas, AAS, AAA and APS degrees issued for fall 2023
  • 91 AA, AS and Associate of General Studies degrees issued for fall 2023
  • 386 declarations for AA, AAS, and Associate of General Studies degrees for spring/summer 2024
  • 523 declarations for certificates, diplomas, AAS, APS, and Associate of Applied Arts degrees for spring/summer 2024
  • 447 Transfer, AA, AS, AGS degrees
  • 586 Non-Transfer, certificates, diplomas, AAS, AAA and APS degrees
  • 109 High School Equivalency Diplomas awarded




57th Annual Commencement Celebrated May 10

I got recommended for the robotics program from someone I know that took the same program. So I took a campus visit and I was very impressed.

Ethan Boileau
Industrial Robotics and Automation
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