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Class of 2019 introduced at December Commencement Ceremony

90 degrees awarded at 11th annual December Commencement Ceremony


Simpson College held the 11th annual December Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 14, celebrating the accomplishments of 90 students who completed their degree requirements at the conclusion of the fall 2019 semester.

A standing-room-only crowd filled historic Smith Chapel, which proudly displayed its holiday decorations. 

The class included:

  • 6 Master of Arts in Criminal Justice graduates
  • 6 Master of Arts in Teaching graduates
  • 78 Bachelor of Arts graduates

Following a welcome from President Jay K. Simmons and invocation by Melody Webb, pastor at Polk City United Methodist Church, two graduates addressed the crowd. 

Mackenzie Clayton represented the traditional undergraduate program. The management major from Bondurant, Iowa shared her experience of faculty and staff members truly caring about her as an individual. When her grandfather passed away suddenly, the faculty worked with her to make sure she was taking care of herself before worrying about coursework.

“That one small gesture is something I will never forget,” she said. “I hope that I can make that kind of impact on somebody someday, no matter how big or small it seems in the moment.”

Liz Hollinger represented the continuing and graduate program. A sociology major with minors in criminal justice and social work, Hollinger — a native of Quebec, Canada — recalled that college wasn’t part of her original plan. 

“Women in my family did not go to college, we were raised to be helpers to our husbands,” she said. “However, kids were not part of my plan, I can’t cook with a darn and I’m a lousy housekeeper.” 

Hollinger was helping her husband register for classes when the late Andrea Biklen, an advisor in the program, brought up the idea of continuing her own education. She followed through, and despite a rocky start, completed her undergraduate journey. Next, she plans to obtain her master’s in criminal justice from Simpson.

Following the ceremony, graduates, family and friends took part in a reception in the Kent Campus Center. The Spring Commencement Ceremony is scheduled for May 2, 2020.