Commencement 2021: Navigating a Previously Unthinkable Path to Graduation


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One thousand nine hundred ninety-three Illinois Institute of Technology students will celebrate one of life’s great milestone achievements on May 15, when, during the university’s second virtual Commencement ceremony, they’ll be recognized as part of Illinois Tech’s graduating class of 2021. While virtual, this year’s ceremony will feature Commencement speaker Ankur Jain (CS ’03), founder and chief executive officer of B9 Beverages/Bira 91; student speaker Priscilla Akpabio (ME ’21); honorary degree recipients Fay Clayton (LAW ’79), Arlene Harris, and John Anderson, president emeritus of Illinois Tech; a celebration of the university’s essential staff and of the tenure of retiring Illinois Tech President Alan W. Cramb; and the conferral of degrees. Most of all, though, the ceremony will celebrate a group of Illinois Tech students who have persevered through previously unthinkable challenges over the course of the last 14 months, consistently showing a level of resiliency and understanding needed to push through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic while rising to adapt and shine in new learning and social environments. Seven students—one from each of the university’s colleges—share their experiences: the biggest lessons they’ve learned, where they’re headed next, and what Illinois Tech means to them.


Sydney Kaplan

Armour College of Engineering

Robots All the Way Down

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Yara Taha

College of Architecture

Creating an Inclusive Future for Architecture

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Prince Hodonou

College of Computing

Illinois Tech Coursework Directly Leads to First Step of Career

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Natasha Crespo

Chicago-Kent College of Law

Driven to Support Those with Disabilities

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Tommie Collins

Institute of Design

Bringing Change Through Co-Design

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Sana Basheer

Lewis College of Science and Letters

Called to Medicine

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Edward Paros

Stuart School of Business

Fascination with Finance Leads to Career Path

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