The Simpson College community enjoyed a picturesque morning on the Indianola campus as 265 undergraduate and graduate students received diplomas at the annual Spring commencement ceremony held Saturday, May 4, 2019.
The class included three Master of Arts in Criminal Justice graduates, 10 Bachelor of Music graduates and 252 Bachelor of Arts graduates.
The graduates processed from Smith Chapel, through the red brick gates in front of College Hall and into Cowles Fieldhouse for the ceremony. Following the ceremony, a reception took place at the Pedestrian Plaza in front of the Kent Campus Center.
Every year, Simpson hosts a December commencement ceremony for mid-year graduates and a Spring commencement for students completing their studies at the end of the academic year.
Alex Hoffman gave the undergraduate student address. The actuarial science and economics: finance double-major from Clive, Iowa moved the crowd with his story of overcoming cerebral palsy to graduate with honors. Needing assistance performing daily tasks, he found a community willing to help.
“I questioned how I would even be able to manage to live away from home, let alone make an impact on the community,” he said. “However, I quickly began to see hope and the endless possibilities resulting from generosity of so many of you sitting right here and others who are part of the Simpson family. Everyone welcomed and embraced me.”
The crowd responded with a standing ovation as he left them with a message of love.
“As we accomplish the incredible things we’ve been gifted and trained to do, always remember that love exponentiates the impact of these achievements in ways you may never know and provides abundantly more satisfaction than material items and awards.”
Cole Hippen delivered the graduate student address. A native of Fort Dodge and Webster City, Iowa, Hippen—a criminal and fire investigator with the Ames Police Department—received his master’s in criminal justice. He shared five pieces of advice with his fellow graduates: respect others, challenge your world view, be genuine, seek your next short-term goal and read something new every day.
Three individuals received special recognition and awards during the ceremony.
Kaitlyn Mulder ’19, a biology major and native of Boyden, Iowa, earned the Trustees’ Academic Award for outstanding accomplishment by an exceptional graduate. The award goes to a graduating senior who has been a resident at Simpson during at least their entire junior and senior years, possess the highest cumulative grade point average and accumulated the greatest number of quality points of any member of the graduating class.
Judy Walden, associate professor of history, earned the Distinguished Teaching Award honoring a faculty member who is recognized by both students and faculty colleagues for outstanding teaching ability.
Elyse Morris ’11, area coordinator for the Buxton and Picken Residence Halls, theme houses and apartments and adjunct professor in the music department, earned the Staff Student Impact Award. The award goes to a staff member whose efforts to mentor and challenge students to graduate exceed the scope of their normal duties.
Honorary Grand Marshals
Linda ’69 and Charles ’69 Brice of Indianola, Iowa, led the procession into Cowles Fieldhouse as the 2019 Honorary Grand Marshals. Linda Kildal of Humboldt, Iowa and Chuck Brice of Skaneateles, N.Y. met early in their Simpson careers and were married in December of 1968 during their senior year.
The couple has been involved with the Simpson College Alumni Board, Simpson Guild and the Emerge Task Force, along with their fraternity and sorority organizations.