Prospective Simpson College students often are told that the campus atmosphere reflects the support, nurturing and encouragement of a family.
The 2017 Spring Commencement – the 150th such ceremony in Simpson’s long history – offered proof.
A total of 363 candidates for degree were honored on Saturday, April 29 inside a packed Cowles Fieldhouse. Outside, gray skies threatened, and then delivered, rain. But the future looked plenty bright inside.
The Class of 2017 graduates included Colton and Cody Good, brothers from Ogden, Iowa. Although Colton is three years older, he had a good excuse for graduating the same year as his brother.
He joined the Iowa National Guard in 2012, and then served in Kuwait and Iraq from 2014-15. His Simpson degree is in management.
“I was just welcomed with open arms here,” Colton said.
Cody said he wasn’t searching too hard for a college when he visited Simpson.
“I came here and it’s been awesome,” he said.
A younger brother, Cayce, is a sophomore studying political science and history.
Cody said he’s proud of Colton earning his degree, “but I’m not shocked, knowing him. Because he can do anything he puts his mind to.”
The sense of a campus family also was reflected in the words of the first keynote speaker, senior Ishaya David, who arrived at Simpson in 2013 from Gombe State in northeastern Nigeria.
When David’s brother was killed in his home country, Simpson students, faculty and staff quickly donated enough money so he could return home to be with his family.
David said he often was asked: Why Simpson?
“I used to have a default response, which was, ‘Who can turn down a full-ride scholarship from an American college?’”
At Simpson, he said, “I found my voice, and I became more engaged and outspoken….
“The Simpson experience changed my default response. So now when people ask me, ‘David, why Simpson?’ I ask them, ‘Where else?’”
The second speaker, Danny White, is a Des Moines Police detective who has served in the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Army and is retired from the Iowa Army National Guard. He earned a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice from Simpson’s Continuing & Graduate Programs.
“The 18-year-old Danny White would never have believed that the word ‘school’ and ‘fun’ belonged in the same sentence, but this is a success story,” he said. “We’ve all worked hard, or we wouldn’t be here right now. We’ve all been pushed out of our own personal comfort zones and didn’t die. And we have made some great friends that have helped us along the way.”
The graduating class included Reahnna and Cort Singleton.
Reahnna majored in accounting, while Cort studied psychology and mathematics.
Reahnna is Cort’s mother.
“My mom will probably say that she is prouder of me, but I think I am much more proud of her,” Cort said. “She began working toward her degree before I was even born. Having to put her classes aside for family reasons really shows how unselfish and dedicated she is. My mom always told me that hard work will always pay off, and I am excited to see the hard work and sacrifices she has made finally pay off for her. She is so deserving, and I couldn’t be prouder. “
As if graduating wasn’t enough, Cort made certain that Saturday would be long remembered. After Commencement, he proposed to fellow senior Morgan Moline.
They sealed their engagement with a kiss on the Simpson seal in the Kent Campus Center.
And the Simpson family keeps growing.
Three awards were announced during Commencement exercises:
*Area coordinator Tayler Keitzer received the Staff Student Impact Award.
*Heidi Berger, associate professor of mathematics, received the Distinguished Teaching Award.
*Allison Frideres, a senior from Algona, received the Trustees’ Academic Award. She has twin sisters who are sophomores at Simpson.
The forecast of rain forced Simpson officials to cancel one of a Commencement tradition – having the seniors walk through the gates in front of College Hall. Instead, that was accomplished the night before, after Baccalaureate services.