KOKOMO, Ind. —Indiana University Kokomo recognized the hard work and dedication of its graduate students, honoring them at the annual master’s hooding ceremony Monday (May 9).

Forty-six students in the Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling (MAMHC), Master of Public Management (MPM) and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs received the hoods that recognize them as having earned advanced degrees. Each one chose a significant faculty or staff member who had impacted him or her, to drape the hood before exchanging a handshake or hug.

For Sky Kolan, there was only one person she could choose to present her hood — Lori Collins, her academic advisor.

“I did poorly at the beginning of my undergraduate program,” said Kolan, who previously earned a Bachelor of General Studies. “I never thought graduate school was an option, but Lori really encouraged me to consider the MPM program. With her support I came back, and I was able to complete it.”

Kolan, from Kokomo, is excited to start thinking about her next steps with graduate school complete.

“This means a lot to me,” she said. “My family sacrificed a lot so I could do this, and now I have more opportunities.”

Deray Boyd is also ready for new beginnings, with a job lined up now that he’s completed his MAMHC.  He’s accepted a job with Integrity Family Counseling. 

“I was ready to do something new and use the gifts I feel like God has given me, and put them to work,” the Marion resident said. “That’s what made me come back for my master’s degree. I was ready to take the next step.”

For Simona Wildman, who was recognized as the outstanding student in the MSN program, completing her family nurse practitioner program is the culmination of a long-held dream.

“I always wanted to be a nurse practitioner, but an important thing for me was that my kids speak my language, so I waited until my son was in kindergarten” said Wildman, whose first language is Czech.  She first completed the RN to BSN program, and then started her graduate degree.

She said it’s a relief to have earned her graduate degree and to start planning for her future.

“I always wanted to do urgent care or ER, but I’ve learned to love primary care,” said Wildman, from Carmel. “That’s the plan for now. I’ll have to see what’s going to come up.”

Outstanding student award winners in addition to Wildman are:

MBA : Dinah Wray, Peru

MAMHC: Taylor Ludlow, Kokomo

MPM: Christine Rassel, Russiaville

Graduate students earning master’s degrees include:

Master of Business Administration

Akron: Carissa Ziemek

Kokomo: Quirin Gilbert, Rachele McQuern, Kritiak Saha, Lizzie Vautaw, Megan Wilcox

Peru: Dinah Wray, Brent Yard

Wabash: Paola Cubides

Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling

Flora: Brooke Ennis

Kokomo: Susan Conner, Abigail Elkins, Candi Fellows, Kellin Hardin, Taylor Ludlow, Jim Montgomery, Megan Perry, Madison Reed, Destiny Rush, Brandon Stansberry, Cynthia Williams, Dawn Wilson

Marion: Deray Boyd

Noblesville: Jessica McHugh

Peru: Morgan Simpson

Selma: Brittany Kiger

West Lafayette: Savannah Moore

Master of Public Management   

Gary: Keira Gilmore

Indianapolis: James Gilson, Oluwatimilehin Soyoola

Kokomo: Sky Kolan

Lafayette: Brook Switzer, Jasmine Walker

Russiaville: Christine Rassel

Master of Science in Nursing

Anderson: Brittany Stewart

Carmel: Simona Wildman

Indianapolis: Nathan Amayun, Michele Lawson

Fishers: Kelly Jones

Galveston: Andrea Freeman

Kokomo: Jacob Barnes, Heather Bye, Alexis Hodupp, Judy Yard

Lafayette: Morgan Yerk

Marion: Stephanie McKinley

Peru: Jenny Ross

Russiaville: Jean Snyder

Wabash: Miranda Mitchell

Westfield: Julie Avellana

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.