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Iowa Wesleyan graduates class of 2019 after year of ups and downs

IW President Steve Titus: 'Life is going to get better and better'

GTNS photo by Gretchen Teske

The Iowa Wesleyan Class of 2019 stands together after their commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 4.
GTNS photo by Gretchen Teske The Iowa Wesleyan Class of 2019 stands together after their commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 4.
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When Jessica Andries transferred to Iowa Wesleyan University two years ago, she was nervous but excited to begin her future. On Saturday, May 4, Andries was able to turn her tassel to the other side of her cap and call herself a graduate of the university.

During the ceremony held at the IW Chapel, fellow graduate Allegra Collette accepted the President’s Award, given to her by IW President Steve Titus. She spoke tearfully of how much she treasured her time at Wesleyan and encouraged each of her classmates to be present as they began the next chapter of their lives.

“Wherever you are, be all there,” she said.

Aleesa Kittrell, Associate Professor of Nursing, was recognized and awarded as the 2019 Chadwick Teacher of the year. During the commencement address, Titus explained to the graduates he wrote a speech the night before but threw it away and wrote a new one after being inspired by a speech he heard during the nurse pinning ceremony the night before.

“Real life has been going on since you’ve been here and you’ve had your ups and downs,” he said. The University had its own ups and downs this year as it was faced with financial trouble and it was unsure if this class would have the opportunity to graduate.

“Here’s what I want to share with you, this is a promise I can make you: When you leave here, life is going to get better and better. And life’s going to get harder and harder. I promise you both.”

Titus went on to explain this is the “task of being a human” and left the students with three things to remember.

“Never forget that everyone is worthy and deserving of love. Never forget that everyone is worthy and deserving of friendship, and never, ever forget that everyone is worthy and deserving of dignity,” he said. “So when you have your down days, and you will, just remember that when your confidence might be a little low at a point and you might have a little self-doubt, that you are worthy and deserving of love. When you have those moments when you are alone or are feeling lonely, never forget that you are worthy and deserving of friendship and when you have those moments when you might be feeling like a failure or like you failed, or you might be having some regret that you’ve done something that’s embarrassing, remember that you are worthy and deserving of dignity.”

Also receiving a diploma at graduation was Donald C. Wiley who received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Wiley graduated from IW in 1970 and has been a supporter, community leader and active alumnus of Iowa Wesleyan. Upon receiving his degree, Wiley thanked the board and gave the students words of advice from Thomas Jefferson.

“When I think about your future, I have to think about a quote by Thomas Jefferson. He says I like future a lot better than the history of the past. He also said that he was a great believer in good luck. That he found the harder he worked, the more luck he had. So good luck to you as you go out to your future,” he said.

After all the graduates had walked across the stage and were once again sitting in their seats, President of the Alumni Association Betty Barney Mullen, IW class of 1975, led the students in turning their tassels from the left side to the right.

“Now, you are the newest alumni on the block,” she said.