Summer 2021 graduates discuss future plans after Ball State commencement ceremony

The summer 2021 commencement ceremonies were livestreamed and saved on Ball State's commencement website.

The 10 a.m. ceremony hosted the R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning, College of Fine Arts, College of Sciences and Humanities and Teachers College.

The 1 p.m. ceremony hosted the Miller College of Business, College of Communication, Information and Media and College of Health.

At the top of her graduation cap, Mona Goggins attached pictures of her nephews and younger brother Josh. In shining letters, the words “worked hard to advocate for you” filled the remaining space. 

“I didn’t think I was going to finish college [and] thank God I did, but I know that the reason why I did is because of what I want to do — and that’s because of my family and different kids I’ve worked with in the past — I just want to be a better advocate for them,” Goggins said. 

Now that she holds a bachelor’s degree in psychological science, Goggins is one step closer to achieving her dream career of a school psychologist.

“I’m going to have to go back to school, but I want to do school psychology — that’s working with kids in schools and providing early intervention for different psychological needs,” Goggins said. “I’m really interested in autism, my brother [Josh] — he has autism — was diagnosed when I was three. So, I just grew up with it and just seeing how this system works with kids with autism definitely motivated me.”

Barbra Goggins, Mona Goggins’ mother, said she is impressed with the initiative Ball State graduates are taking. 

“It’s so neat to see everyone and all these young people stepping up and taking their voices for the future. It’s amazing,” Barbra Goggins said. 

Ball State hosted summer 2021 graduates and guests in Worthen Arena July 24. This was the university’s first indoor ceremony of the year, as the spring 2021 ceremonies were hosted at Scheumann Stadium to socially distance and abide by COVID-19 health protocols.

At the summer commencement, fully vaccinated people were not required to wear face masks. Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns commended graduates for their dedication to their schooling in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know that your academic accomplishments are all the more impressive when you consider that your final year at our university was in a historic year, a year unlike any other,” he said.

Mearns asked graduates to thank their family members and guests in the stands, and encouraged them to set professional goals that would make their families and friends proud.

“It will make them proud because your contributions have improved the lives of other people,” Mearns said. “Because of that impact, the impact is enduring. I also encourage you to pursue a life of meaning. Life is a gift. Life is a precious gift, and it is a gift to lead a meaningful life, it is a gift that you should share with other people, with other people who need you.”

Graduate Jocelyn Karsa pursued a master’s degree after studying biology during her undergraduate years. In graduate school, she studied bats. 

“I guess doing nature gave me a sense of peace, and then I started studying that in my undergrad and really enjoyed it. I thought I would be a park ranger and I realized that you could just study an animal, so I became a bat biologist,” Karsa said. 

Karsa’s master’s in biology has allowed her to pursue a career as a biologist at the Natural History Survey. 

“She found her passion and she found the job in her passion,” said her father, Bruce Karsa.

Rahmed Paige, master’s graduate of educational psychology and army national guard member, said he was happy he went to the commencement ceremony.

“This summer, I just had one class to go, so it was pretty good,” Paige said. “It’s something I wanted to do and I’m glad I’ve gained those skills.”

Commencement speaker Jackie McKinney told graduates they should continue to apply what they learned from Ball State to learning new things the rest of their lives.

“I hope you understand we are proud of you not because you finally ticked off that box that says college degree,” McKinney said. “You have done much more than check that box, you have changed your life and your trajectory.”

Contact Ayah Eid with comments at azeid@bsu.edu or on Twitter @AyahEid2. Contact Grace McCormick with comments at grmccormick@bsu.edu or on Twitter @graceMc564.

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