Celebrating UIC grads

Photos: Jenny Fontaine, Fan Wang and UIC Creative and Digital Services

It was a send-off adorned with decorated caps, applause and glowing smiles — a milestone for UIC and its growing class of alumni, which welcomed new members by the thousands.

On May 8 through 13, UIC celebrated the years of hard work carried out by bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree recipients during 14 commencement ceremonies at the Credit Union 1 Arena. Nearly 6,000 graduates crossed the stage, ready to embark on new, life-changing journeys.

“It feels surreal to be here after four long years of work, but it flew by,” Surbhi Jain said at the College of Medicine commencement ceremony. Jain will complete a residency training program at the University of Iowa. “I feel that UIC really has prepared me for my future in medicine, and I’m very confident.”

Before students like Jain turned their tassels and set off for the future, family, friends and the UIC community cheered them on.

For the UIC Wind Ensemble, that meant building a winning mood with music, like the “Game of Thrones” theme song, played before the ceremony and other traditional songs after.

“I want students to understand that we now have a responsibility to the world to make it better with the education and resources UIC provided you,” said José Riojas, conductor of the ensemble. UIC’s Wind Ensemble has performed at commencement ceremonies for the last 70 years.

Keynote speaker for the College of Education, Erika L. Sánchez, took a different approach. Sánchez, an alumna herself, imparted wisdom on the Class of 2019.

“I can’t believe that I graduated from UIC 13 years ago,” Sanchez said during the May 10 ceremony. “I remember I was so hopeful that day …everything seemed possible. So much has happened since then.”

Sánchez shared how she persevered, despite some rejections, and became a 2017 finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and a New York Times best-selling author.

Marvin Lindsey, chief executive officer of the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois and executive director of ProviderCo., offered inspiring words for his alma mater.

“You are needed and wanted to change and improve policies and systems, whether it’s a state or federal law or an agency’s regulation or helping a family or individual navigate a difficult period in their lives,” Lindsey said at the ceremony for the Jane Addams College of Social Work. “There has never been more of a time when your skills, creativity, strengths-based approach, system thinking, compassion and sensible solutions to complex problems are needed.”

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