SoIC Celebrates the Class of 2017


It's a joyous ending, and an exciting beginning.

The School of Informatics and Computing celebrated the achievements of nearly 1,100 graduates during its Student Recognition Celebration May 4-5, bestowing a record number of degrees in Informatics, Computer Science, Data Science, and Information and Library Science. The May 4 event celebrated students graduating with Ph.D.’s and Master’s degrees, while the May 5 event honored those graduating with Bachelor's degrees.

“You are the champions of the Data and Information Revolution, the innovators who will fight for a new world in which you will create and influence with your knowledge,” Raj Acharya, dean of SoIC, told the crowd gathered in Alumni Hall at the Indiana Memorial Union. “You are following the path previously taken by NASA scientists during the space revolution as they prepared to send a man to the moon, or engineers during the industrial revolution. You will be the creators of information, the preservers of culture, and the influencers of future technology.”

Although SoIC’s graduates come from all over the world, there was one uniting emotion: pride.

“I’m so proud of myself,” said Keerthi Teja Nuthi, who earned her Master’s in Computer Science and is headed to a job in Seattle with Amazon. “I’m emotional about it. I feel strong as a woman. I’m an IT professional! I’ve learned a lot in these two years. I’ve been through a lot, and it was hard, but after everything is done, I’m so proud of myself.”

Rishabh Singh, who earned his Master’s in Human Computer Interaction, left his home in India to pursue his dream, and he felt the impact of his hard work.

“This was the first time I had ever left my home,” Singh said. “I left my country and entered a different culture. I’m the first one in my family to get a Master’s degree, and to do it in front of my family, which flew here from India, has made it a very special day.”

For Emily Baumgartner, who also earned a Master’s in HCI, graduation was a time to reflect on an investment in herself.

“It’s a huge accomplishment,” Baumgartner said. “I quit my job and moved to a different state for this. I put all my eggs in one basket, and to walk across the stage and look out on friends and family who helped me get here is pretty incredible.”

Arpit Khandelwal, who earned his Master’s in Computer Science, is headed to San Francisco to start his career, and he’s thankful SoIC has given him the tools to be successful.

“I’m really glad that the School of Informatics and Computing provided me with an experience where I could learn so much from its great faculty,” Khandelwal said. “Everyone, whether it be teachers or staff, were so valuable to me, and I’m so thankful for them.”

Michelle Porter, who earned her Master’s in Library Science, was left nearly speechless by the event.

“I just finished my last assignment this morning, and it hasn’t sunk in yet,” Porter said. “I’m just excited to have a job that I’ll enjoy and can do good work.”

The undergrads took their turn in the spotlight May 5. Students earning their bachelor’s in informatics or computer science took part in either a morning or afternoon celebration, and they beamed with their accomplishment.

Evyania Tsarnas, who earned an Informatics degree and will move on to a job at Microsoft, felt relief.

“It proves my hard work was all worth it,” Tsarnas said. “Career services does a great job, and I’m really looking forward to closing this chapter of my life and opening the next. It’s really exciting.”

Paul Kusisto is headed to a career as a software developer for Amazon, and he knows his computer science degree will open a lot of doors. Graduation was a chance to take a breath and look back at all he has accomplished.

“It’s really cool to see the culmination of four years of work and finally be at the point where you’re getting the certification of your effort,” Kusisto said.

Paul’s father, Rick, couldn’t have been more proud.

“He has gotten a really well-rounded education in computer science, business and math,” Rick said. “We couldn’t be more pleased with IU. It has been a great investment of his time and our money.”

Jack DeLuca, who earned his Bachelor’s in Informatics with a business cognate, took five years to graduate, but he doesn’t regret the time spent.

“It has been a longer road for me since I spent my first year at another program, but it means the world to me right now,” DeLuca said. “My family is here, and my grandparents came in from Texas. It’s a special moment that celebrates all the hard work. You can’t be afraid to adjust your path if the first one you take isn’t for you, and Informatics worked for me.”

Unlike some of his classmates, Zhenkai Liu isn’t headed to the job market. He’s taking his Informatics degree to graduate school, but he already feels a sense of accomplishment.

“This is a huge achievement,” Liu said. “I’m an international student, and I came here alone facing cultural differences. It was a lot of hard work, but to see my family be so emotional and proud of me makes it all worth it.”

Biao Zhang was fairly beaming with happiness following the event.

“This is really one of the best moments of my whole life,” said Zhang, who earned his Bachelor’s in Computer Science and will become an IT business analyst in Illinois. “I came here from Beijing, China, and I’ve studied for four years to get to this point. It’s going to be a new page for me, and I’m so happy I chose to come to college at IU.”

Acharya said he hoped SoIC raised the aspirations for all of the graduates and helped them dream of what is possible.

“It’s very heartening to see them graduate and accomplish what they set out to achieve,” Acharya said. “But it’s not just an ending. It’s a beginning, a commencement of their future. Our grads are lucky to be in a field that is very relevant and has a luxurious future. We’re sure they’ll make everyone proud.”

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