IUPUI Commencement 2021

The Next Chapters in the Jaguar Story: Presenting the IUPUI Class of 2020 and 2021

May 15, 2021
Michael A. Carroll Track and Soccer Stadium
Indianapolis, Indiana


As we celebrate our graduates today, we are witnessing another milestone in the life of our campus and the university as a whole with these, the final commencement exercises over which President McRobbie will preside as leader of Indiana University. 

For the past fourteen years, President McRobbie has led this university in remarkable fashion. Among his many accomplishments, he has focused with great intensity on strengthening education and creating incredible opportunities for students. He has overseen record-breaking fundraising campaigns that have supported student scholarships, global education, and much more.

He launched the Grand Challenges research initiative, which includes projects focused on precision health, environmental change, and the addictions crisis, areas in which some of you—our graduates—are likely to work.

He has also spearheaded a period of tremendous growth in facilities on IU campuses across the entire state, including new buildings and major renovations right here at IUPUI. In fact, we will be dedicating the newest—Innovation Hall—later this month. He has done this all while working with a dedicated team to ensure that IU schools and programs meet your needs as graduates.

With all of this and so much more in mind, let's give President McRobbie a huge round of applause.


President McRobbie, university trustees, colleagues, and the parents, partners, and friends who are joining us virtually:

I am pleased to present the IUPUI Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021.

Extraordinary Jaguars

You are truly an extraordinary group of students graduating at an extraordinary time for our campus and for our country.

Jaguars, I want to hear how excited you are about graduating today. Let me hear you! I like the sound of that!

Let's make a deal. During this ceremony, every time I say the word extraordinary, I want all of you to yell as loudly as possible.

Let's practice: Jaguars, you are extraordinary.

That was excellent. No wait ... that was extraordinary. 

Every Graduate Has a Story

Every graduate here today has a story. Considering this milestone of commencement at the end of this very difficult year, these are tales of triumph.

Among our graduate and professional students, for example, a young woman travelled from Indiana to Dakar, Senegal—more than 4,000 miles away—to volunteer in a non-profit health clinic, learning French and Wolof, to talk with her patients. Crossing physical and cultural borders brought her a vision for the future and a passion for service. She took a risk, travelled around the world, and stretched herself well beyond the ordinary thanks to her courage and determination.

Congratulations, Kaitlin. 

Among our undergraduates, one graduate followed her calling to be a nurse. Even as she has completed her degree with the intense work that required, she has been providing hands-on support for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Trial here in Indianapolis. She has balanced all this with her successful college career as an NCAA Division 1 student athlete playing soccer at IUPUI on this VERY field. I'd also mention that she's one of the team captains.

Congratulations, Morgan.

These two are among 14,000 stories of 2020 and 2021 graduates I could share with you today.

Like Kaitlin and Morgan, over these past few years, each one of you—our graduates—has written an important new chapter in the story of your life.

Today, we gather to celebrate all that you have accomplished and all that your futures hold. I look forward to seeing the decisions you make in the years to come by which you will continue to reveal that you are extraordinary.

Hinting at Your Potential

Even before you started at IUPUI, you have hinted at your potential, succeeding in the face of great obstacles.

Some of you—like me—are first generation college students and the first in your families to pursue a graduate degree, and you are here. Some of you are Dreamers and have faced the real possibility of deportation during your time here, and you continued your hard work. Some of you fought for your health and the health of your loved ones—especially over the last year—and yet you persevered. And, some of you have suffered the daily trauma of racism, and you have arrived here today as proud college graduates.

Building on this strong foundation, you have shown how hard you are willing to work to change the world. Your struggle and persistence show that your potential can only be described as extraordinary.

IUPUI Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar addresses the Class of 2020 and 2021 at the IUPUI 2021 Commencement.

Seeing all of you—our graduates—here in person today has made every Zoom meeting, every call, and every minute worth it.

IUPUI Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar

Jaguar Excellence in the Classroom and Out

Here on campus, you have continued to excel.

You have applied yourselves with the energy and creativity so necessary to learning and discovery. With years in laboratories, at your keyboards, and in the field, you have collected and analyzed data, developed hypotheses and theories, and have spelled out new worlds of ideas, policies, and practices in your capstones, theses, and dissertations.

Some of you are among our Top 100 most outstanding undergraduates, seasoned in the classroom, the studio, the laboratory, and the field.

Even with your serious academic work, you've also taken time to quicken the pulse of our campus. You have made the Graduate Commons in the Library come to life, hung out in the Campus Center, and added your powerful voices to GPSG and even to the Indiana University Board of Trustees.

You have rowed in Regatta, celebrated Jagapalooza, and raised millions for pediatric research dancing for the kids in Jagathon. And some of you—like Morgan—are also Horizon League champions.

Of course, this year brought special new experiences to many of us. Can you count the number of times you've said, "You are on mute"? Or how about turning yourself into a cat using your computer filters? And we've all become experts at picking just the right virtual background.

Well, let me tell you, this is the best background I've seen all year long.

And seeing all of you—our graduates—here in person today has made every Zoom meeting, every call, and every minute worth it.

Writing the Next Chapters and Building the Future

As important as today is, graduation is not the end.

Here you stand on the threshold of your future, so much of your sparkling stories yet to unfold.

What decisions await you in those next chapters?

Whatever they are, they will take courage and conviction, creativity and insight, determination and grit.

As your decisions build one upon another, we can—together—create a brighter future where knowledge eliminates ignorance, where respect outweighs bigotry, and where our children—no matter who they are—can grow up in a world where they feel safe, confident, and valued for the content of their characters. (Endnote)

I dream of this world that glitters with promise. Let’s make this dream come true.

Once again, congratulations, graduates.  


Reference to Martin Luther King’s "I have a dream" speech:  "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today."

Relive moments from IUPUI's 2021 commencement ceremonies