Simpson College held its 12th December Commencement Ceremony on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021, celebrating the accomplishments of 74 students who completed their degree requirements at the conclusion of the 2021 fall semester.
An overflow crowd of masked friends and family filled Smith Chapel, which was decked out in holiday decor. Celebrated in the evening for the first time, the graduates continued the commencement tradition of passing through the illuminated gates in front of College Hall before proceeding to the Chapel.
Friday marked the first December Commencement ceremony since 2019. The 2020 ceremony was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those graduates were honored during the 2021 spring ceremony.
The various degrees conferred by the College included Master of Arts in Criminal Justice, Master of Arts in Teaching and Bachelor of Arts.
Following an introduction by President Marsha Kelliher and an invocation from Chaplain Mara Bailey, two graduates addressed the crowd. One represented the traditional undergraduate program and one represented the continuing, graduate and online program.
Georgia Porter (pictured above) delivered the traditional undergraduate address. The Melbourne, Iowa native triple-majored in mathematics, computer science and computer information systems. She was a member of the softball team, president of the math club, a member of the computer science club, a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and an ambassador in the office of admissions.
Porter recalled a friend – an environmental science major – who collected fallen maple leafs from campus. She compared her classmates to those maple leafs, coming from the same tree but unique in their own way.
“We grow each year with every milestone, every season and every gust of wind that tries to knock us down,” Porter said. “Through the years, we embodied the red and gold and came to cherish the trees from which we stemmed. We jumped on the golden opportunities placed before us.”
Makenzie Patterson (pictured above) delivered the continuing and graduate address. The Nevada, Iowa native received her second degree from Simpson on Friday, earning a master’s degree in criminal justice. She earned her bachelor's degree in criminal justice in 2017. Patterson served for 20 years in the Iowa Army National Guard, retiring as a staff sergeant. She currently serves as a senior crime scene investigator for the City of Des Moines Police Department.
Patterson recounted her non-traditional path to higher education. She joined the military at age 17, completed her associate’s degree at 32 and enrolled in Simpson’s criminal justice program at 34 – all while raising a family. She feared failure but found a welcoming, diverse community of learners at Simpson. She focused on her desire to learn.
“It doesn’t matter how you obtain your education, whether it be days or nights, online or in-person,” Patterson said. “What matters is that you are learning. An education should never be rushed and completed in a prescribed amount of time. Take as long as you need and enjoy it along the way.”
About Simpson College
Simpson College is a private, liberal arts college located in Iowa with campuses in Indianola, West Des Moines and online. Founded in 1860, the college has 1,078 undergraduate and graduate students. Simpson offers 75 majors, minors and programs in addition to three graduate programs. Outside of the classroom, Simpson is a member of the NCAA Division III American Rivers Conference, hosts eight Greek houses on campus and sponsors many extracurricular options for student involvement.
Bryan Geelan, marketing communication director