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IWU graduates more than 1,000

BY Carolyn Muyskens - cmuyskens@chronicle-tribune.com

Over 1,015 students received undergraduate and graduate degrees Saturday from Indiana Wesleyan University.

During a commencement ceremony Saturday morning, one more degree was conferred – on speaker Darryn Scheske, who was given an honorary doctorate by the university.

Scheske, who grew up the child of missionaries in the Caribbean, now heads Heartland Church, which has four locations in the Indianapolis area and thousands of members.

Scheske focused his speech Saturday on changing the world through compassion.

“Being a world-changer is simple because it’s starts with one person, and that person is you,” Scheske said.

Scheske told a story from his childhood, describing a time when he and his dad helped his father’s enemy, a man who had attacked his father in the media, recover after a hurricane ripped through the Caribbean island where he grew up.

“The man showed up with tears in his eyes saying, ‘Why would you do this, especially after what I did to you?’ … That day changed the atmosphere of that relationship ... and it rippled across the city and ultimately opened the doors of that little island nation,” Scheske said.

“The atmosphere you create can change the climate of every place that you go,” Scheske told the graduates.

IWU held two separate commencement ceremonies Saturday, one at 10 a.m. for students receiving associate’s degrees and most bachelor’s degrees, and one at 2 p.m. for students receiving the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, the Bachelor of Social Work, all master’s degrees and all doctorates.

With its large cohort of online students, for some, graduation is the first time an IWU student might set foot on campus.

“If you’ve been studying online, we’re real,” IWU President David Wright joked at the start of the ceremony.

One such student is Shelley Stonecipher, a graduate of the masters in school counseling program.

Stonecipher continued to teach the first grade at North Judson-San Pierre Elementary School while pursuing her degree at IWU, taking over as school counselor at the school last March.

“When I prayed for the right university that would allow me to continue to teach while pursuing my counseling degree, he brought me to Indiana Wesleyan,” Stonecipher said.

Stonecipher thanked her professors, singling out one professor, Candice Norris-Brown.

“Dr. Norris-Brown ended every class session by saying, ‘If you need anything this week, call me.’ Dr. Norris-Brown, I hope you know how much that meant to me, and also, I’m keeping your number on speed dial, so you’ve been warned,” Stonecipher said.

The 2 p.m. ceremony also featured Wesley Seminary’s first graduates of the Master of Divinity with a major in Ministry and a specialization in Worship Arts. Wesley Seminary Colleen Derr and Dr. Matt Lucas announced graduates’ names as they walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.

Graduates walking in Saturday’s ceremony also included some of the 460 students who were awarded degrees in October.