Celebrating our 2018 College of Education graduates

by the College of Education at Illinois  /   May 15, 2018

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Family members and friends of more than 400 College of Education graduates cheered enthusiastically throughout this year’s Convocation Ceremony at Huff Hall as graduates’ names were called.

“Passion, commitment, and a deep belief in the transformative power of education are what drive educators to face the challenges that must be faced in order to fulfill the promise of our democracy,” Dean James D. Anderson said during his convocation remarks.  

“Together, their efforts—large and small—will have the cumulative effect of a sea change,” he said.

Last year’s ceremony was noted for the graduation of the inaugural learning & education studies cohort, and this year’s event recognized the inaugural graduates of the college’s middle grades program.    

Following the hooding of doctoral candidates and the recognition of students who earned master’s degrees, advanced certificates, and bachelor’s degrees, the graduation celebration continued at the Education Building, where graduation “swag bags” were distributed. New graduates went home with numerous “Great Minds Think Illinois”-branded goodies such as coffee mugs, pop sockets for cellphones, coasters, and luggage tags.

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New graduate Claire Robinson

Elementary education graduate Claire Robinson was one of the day’s graduates who joined more than 34,000 College of Education alumni worldwide. With a second-grade teaching job lined up at Indian Grove Elementary School in Mount Prospect, she said during the post-commencement party that the College of Education prepared her well. 

“I’ve had constant support through my peers and through the professors,” said Robinson, whose favorite instructor was Dr. Ali Lewis, the interim director of University Primary School. “It’s been an amazing experience. I’m ready.”

Juseong Lee joined the after-commencement festivities with his wife, Makie Yukawa, who is from Japan, and their son, Haru. Juseong, who is from South Korea, earned a doctorate in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction. 

Like Robinson, he said he received vast support from faculty in the college and felt privileged to graduate from such an esteemed institution.

“This program has shaped me into who I am today as a scholar, and also professionally and personally,” he said.

Outstanding Student Medal recipients recognized

The College of Education also annually recognizes Outstanding Student Medal (OSM) recipients during convocation, which honors an undergraduate, graduate, and a doctoral student. This year’s winners were Sydney Deuter (bachelor’s recipient), Misty Krippel (master’s recipient), and Jasmine Collins (doctoral recipient).

OSM recipients are selected based on their superior level of scholarship within their departments and programs. Along with being excellent students, they offer their time and service to the college, campus, and community, showing promise as leaders in their fields.

During her convocation speech, Krippel said all College of Education graduates are equipped to enhance the lives of others and have the knowledge and tools to do so.

“Dream big and share them with others,” said Krippel, who graduated in the Department of Special Education with a 4.0 grade-point average. “Advocate for what you believe in because every child and family deserves equal opportunities. You can be the reason for change, the opportunity for growth, and the path to new and innovative ways to teach others and grow in the field.”

Deuter studied in Curriculum & Instruction and said prior to the ceremony that the knowledge she gained at Illinois, and the collaborative efforts she engaged in as a student, changed her life.

“I can only hope that someday I will be able to positively affect and shape the lives of my students, just as my instructors and peers have done for me throughout these past four years,” she said.

And Collins, whose nominator and mentor was Dr. Bill Trent, said her family, friends, and the College of Education faculty she worked with “poured time, energy, and wisdom” into her during her doctoral studies in the Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership. She said pursuing a doctorate is a monumental effort, which makes attaining it all the more fulfilling.

“I was inspired to find and hone my voice,” Collins said. “To figure out what my orienting purposes are, and how I might use the knowledge and skills to work in service of those greater purposes. It is one thing to be afforded the time, space, and resources to pursue endeavors of the heart and mind, but it is something entirely different for those endeavors to be recognized and validated. This award, to me, represents that validation, and provides hearty encouragement for the road ahead.”