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Students selected to address 2013 IUPUI commencement


INDIANAPOLIS – Two graduating Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis seniors have been selected to address about 7,000 graduates, faculty, alumni, friends and family at each of the campus’s two commencement ceremonies Sunday, May 12.

Theresa Benz will address the 11 a.m. ceremony, and Elizabeth Bourgeois will speak at the 3:30 p.m. ceremony. Both take place in Halls A-B-C of the Indianapolis Convention Center.

There will be 6,386 degrees awarded to 6,304 students, with 5,100 degrees awarded from IU and 1,286 degrees awarded from Purdue. The overall total also includes 213 degrees awarded to IUPU Columbus graduates.

A nontraditional student, Benz will be awarded a Bachelor of Science in public affairs from the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. She also earned a minor in forensic and investigative sciences. Benz, who earned a 3.9 grade-point average, said returning to college was a challenge.

“I must admit it has been difficult juggling classes, managing family issues, feeding babies, changing diapers, participating in my community, helping my husband run his business and making sure I was still the full-time mom my children had grown accustomed to having around the house,” she said. “I’d be lying if I said there haven’t been times that I’ve been overwhelmed beyond words, but I’m proud to say I have persevered.

“Somewhere in the process, I have gone from being a follower to a leader and from someone who did just enough to get by into being an overachiever. … While I feel I have learned a lot through my academic experiences thus far, I think the greatest thing I have learned is that I can do anything I put my mind to.”

Among the awards Benz received at IUPUI are:

  • IUPUI Chancellor’s Scholar-SPEA, 2013
  • William M. Plater Civic Engagement Medallion Recipient, 2013
  • IUPUI Top 100 Outstanding Students, 2012, 2013
  • School of Public and Environmental Affairs Dean’s List, 2011 and 2012
  • School of Science Scholar’s List, 2009, 2010 and 2011
  • Bepko Academic Mentor Scholarship, 2011
  • Academic Excellence Award in Biology, 2009 and 2010 

Bourgeois will be awarded a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering with a minor in mathematics from the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology. Bourgeois is the female outstanding student at IUPUI for 2013.

Bourgeois, a varsity swimmer at IUPUI, will participate in a two-year leadership and development program with Whirlpool Corp. and then return to the classroom to earn a master’s in an engineering-related discipline. She isn’t sure what will come after that, but she knows this: “I definitely want to be an engineer who transforms ideas and concepts into tangible products that enhance the lives of those using them.”

Among the awards Bourgeois received at IUPUI are:

  • Jaguar Athletic Club’s 2012-13 Michael Carroll Award Recipient
  • IUPUI Top 100 Outstanding Students, 2011-12
  • ChiaYee Ang and Mark E. Hemphill Outstanding Leader and Scholar
  • Alpha Lambda Delta and Phi Etta Sigma Honor Society Member
  • Golden Key International Honor Society Member
  • Summit League’s All-Academic Team, 2011 and 2012
  • Summit League’s Commissioner’s List of Excellence, 2011 and 2012